Scooter Town

| June 10, 2011 | 4 Comments

As a first time visitor to the town of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, it is hard not to be astounded at the number of “snoscooters” or snowmobiles sitting around.  They are randomly parked by the side of the road, grouped in clusters of 2 or 3, amassed in lots of 50, left up on pallets, slowly sinking into the permafrost, hidden away in hangars by the dozens and seemingly everywhere you look.  Any open field would have at least a token sled, if not an entire farm of them.  Longyearbyen has a population of about 2,000 people and there are easily that many, or far more snowmobiles.

A 30 second video demonstration:

A big part of this is that recreational snowmobiling is prohibited in mainland Norway (and many parts of Europe) so Svalbard is one of the few places you can use them.  They are also used extensively for group tours where you might have up to 30 rental sleds all traveling together.  Unlike in the US and Canada, most of these sleds are heavy duty touring rigs with long tracks, heated everything, dual seats, huge displacements (1000cc and up were commonplace) and were four-stroke.  Most of the terrain within 3 hours of Longyearbyen is part of “Area 10″ which requires no special permits and has ideal scooter touring terrain and conditions – long gentle valleys and generally compact snow.

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Category: Random, Trip Reports

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (4)

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  1. btrand says:

    If snowmobiles were always called scooters, atv’s were called farm bikes (as the kiwis call them) and suv’s were just called gas hogs, there’d probably be a lot less of them.

    “My husband Todd races scooters professionally” (S. Palin)

  2. MM says:

    I’m missing snowmobile season so much, there’s nothing like the smell of 2 stroke in the morning…off the subject, do you know what kind of wax works for this time of the year, say late afternoon?

  3. ron says:

    short skis…no wax :)

  4. Andrew says:

    Mike – have you tried a thick coating of used motor oil? :) Aside from that, I don’t know what, aside from shorties, will make them slide better on all of that dirt.

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