No, it's not April Fool's Day. And you're probably wondering why you're reading about a Smart fortwo on a site dedicated to trucks. Although this story is about a sub-compact hatchback that could likely fit into the bed of a pickup, this tiny wheeler travels to the famous road as seen on the History Channel's Ice Road Truckers series.
This is not where I want to die. Climbers or hikers end up frozen to death on mountainsides. Not people driving a smart fortwo city car. And it isn't how I want to die either, blown off the planet by a vicious, frostbiting Arctic storm on a remote stretch of the Dempster Highway in the far north of Canada's Yukon Territory. But a cold, lonely death is a real possibility if we don't break through the blizzard now hammering us.
We're on Wright Pass, between Eagle Plains and Inuvik in far north Canada. Berms of snow are forming across the highway front and back. The smart fortwo has the ground clearance of a dachshund, and although the snow up here is powder dry, charging in what looks like a cross between a speed bump and the Pillsbury Doughboy is probably best avoided. But we have no option.
Walls of white explode across the front of the cars as we hit each snowdrift. It looks like a Laurel and Hardy flour stunt, and though it's a fine mess we've gotten ourselves into, no one's laughing. Not when we're 200 miles from the nearest hospital in conditions where no rescue chopper could dare fly.
One, two, three...eight, nine...the number of snowdrifts adds up, and the smart dismisses each with a shrug. However, a rock or a block of ice lodged in just one snowbank would spell disaster. And in zero visibility, the other risk is huge trucks coming the other way. We might be in the middle of a whiteout, but physically closing the road is the only thing that ever stops the trucks from using this permafrost highway to the Arctic.
The road turns and narrows around a cliff packed with avalanche potential. Looking up through the clear roof of the car, I can see hundreds of tons of snow teetering on the abyss. Enough snow to flatten a truck. We have no option but to go for it.