Ice cool: a road trip to Norway’s North Cape
A battle with the icy elements en route to the top of Europe
The North Cape is a place of myth and raw beauty. To get there in winter means fighting against icy squalls along roads lined with thick walls of snow. A landscape that’s not for the faint-hearted… but utterly unforgettable
All set for the wild white yonderIt’s -28 Celsius and we’re being bombarded from all angles by snow, ice and wind. It’s just over 300km from here to the North Cape, but with our Porsche Cayenne shod in winter tyres featuring 1.5mm spikes, confidence is high and grip levels are good. We strike out northwards across the vast white plains, picking up speed as light birch groves glide past. Birch is the only tree that can grow up here, but it’s a fact that we don’t dwell on for long. This drive demands complete concentration. Stay in the convoy. No time for cockiness. Drive quickly, but in a controlled manner. Always keep an eye on the taillights of the car in front. That’s what we’ve been told, and they are guidelines that give us healthy respect for the conditions we’re trying to negotiate.
Blue road sign indicating that there’s 343km to North Cape
The north calls: just over 300km to the North Cape
There is only one road up to the northernmost point of Europe. The journey is the reward. Again and again, the wind blows thick snowdrifts towards us. It blasts at the edges of the road, causing us to take relative refuge in the middle of it. But it is a contested zone – even up here we don't have the road to ourselves. In the winter twilight, and in these conditions, our 80km/h (50mph) seems more like 120 km/h (75mph). It’s impossible to go faster while keeping safe. We’re already at the limit. For a moment, I wish I were back in the grippy world of asphalt. In my ear I can hear the words of rally legend Walter Röhrl: “You know the true art of controlling your vehicle in precarious conditions.”
Large, 12-wheeler articulated lorry speeds into foreground, snowy road behind
Megatrucks thunder past us, unchecked on the country roads
Keep your nerve – and your concentration levels highThere are hardly any houses and we see no people at all – not even reindeer, in fact. There’s never a good moment to gaze out over the vast landscape, to drop your concentration levels. In some ways, it’s pretty monotonous. But then again, there are surprises too. In Alta we come upon our first fjord and take the coastal road. Finally, we head through the North Cape Tunnel, which takes us 212m below sea level. The route continues over the broad Fjell. A snow-white giant thunders towards us, its headlights and spotlights afire. Everything suddenly goes white, robbing us of our vision. Determined, I grip the steering wheel and drive on stoically. Just don’t lose control. My fellow driver expresses what I think about this spectacular manoeuvre in the snow. “Oh my God!”. It’s accompanied by a stunned smile. But then the cloud of snow is gone and the road is peaceful once again.
Snow mountain in the background, sea in the foreground. Cloudy weather.
Fascinating landscapes on our way to the North Cape
Onwards, ever onwards, relentlessly tackling the next few miles. The road continues north, without a single stop. The northernmost point of Europe stands proud, inhospitable and rugged. At a certain point, the world sinks into the monotonous rhythm of diffuse white. The contours of the land are no longer visible. Just like that, the snow lights up the road. I’m in the tunnel amid a mush of white. Finally, I’m in what they call the flow. If we had ever doubted this trip, we’re now long over it.
Dark and snowy North Cape with globe statue in background
The North Cape at last: the snowy, icy top of Europe
To the very end of the worldAnd then, from the rigid uniformity of the Fjell, all of a sudden, the road heads uphill. The spikes give us good grip on the looser snow under us. Which of the countless Sami words for snow describes this phenomenon from above again? The sky is barely distinguishable from the road here. Such a whiteout can be quite oppressive, daunting even. And then we reach the end of the mainland.This is where the Arctic Ocean begins. Only Spitsbergen and great expanses of water lie between us and the North Pole. This is 71° 10′ 21″ – those iconic coordinates. A misty cliff and a view of the Barents Sea. Although it is only midday, we are surrounded by minimal light. It’s just enough for a photo to prove that we made it to the globe sculpture at the North Cape. To say that we have completed this memorable challenge. We’ve made it to the end. We can’t cope with any more experiences today – except, perhaps, of the culinary kind. But that’s another story.This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.
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