Welcome to the Planet’s Coldest Village
The Beauty of OYMYAKON
Oymyakon, known as the Coldest Village on Earth.
Winter temperatures in Oymyakon, Russia, average minus 56°C to minus 60°C. In the year 1926, Russian scientist Sergey Obrychev registered the lowest temperature −71.2 °C (−96.2 °F) recorded at Oymyakon’s weather station. Since then, it has become the lowest recorded temperature for any permanently inhabited location on Earth.
The remote village with population 500 people in the corner of SIBERIA. With a permanently frozen ground, Oymyakon is the coldest place with human habitat.
Oymyakon also known as Pole of Cold, In the language of the local people, the Tungus Oymyakon means “unfrozen patch of water; place where fish spend the winter”.
No matter where your head turns, the entire village of Oymyakon is covered in pure white snow. Since nothing can grow here, the only food you can have is deer meat, horse meat and fish.
Another problem posed by frigid temperature is burying of dead bodies. It takes two or three days to dig a grave in frozen ground. To dig a grave, a bonfire is lit for a couple of hours, which allows the ground to thaw a little. The hot coals are then pushed to the side and a hole couple of inches deep is dug. The process is repeated for several days until the hole is deep enough to bury the coffin.
There is no plane during the winter because of the harsh temperature, it takes two days to arrive by car from Yakutsk, the capital of Sakha Republic.
The water in the Oymyakon river does not freeze totally. The ground is permanently frozen to a depth of 5,000 feet; under the pressure from the frozen earth, the ground water escapes to the surface.
The water from the river is very clean and fresh.
On the month of December, daylight only last for 3 hours. It’s utterly dark – for up to 21hours during the winter, and the temperature averages -58 degree celcius, but in summer months the village can receive up to 21 hours of sunshine.
At minus 57 degrees Celsius, hot water thrown into the air, will turns immediately into ice crystals.
The UAZ car made from iron and is an off-road military light utility vehicle, it was used by soviet and other Warsaw Pact armed forced. In the Soviet Union, it also saw widespread service in state organizations that needed a robust and durable off-road vehicle. Standard military versions included seating for seven personnel.
In this Siberian, cars have to be left running ,sometimes overnight, so the mechanics don’t freeze up. If did not keep cars running outside then they had to keep the car in a heated garage to avoid the car breaking down.
The challenges while shooting in this freezing temperature is the battery would begin to drop very fast and the lens would freeze over regularly. The only way is after taking a shot, immidiately keep the camera warm inside the jacket against the body, so the lens wont freeze and battery wont drop fast.
The other very interesting challenges in this freezing weather is people with glasses. Eye glasses are known to freeze to faces and glass get frozen easily as the steam from nose and mouth.
With bitterly cold temperature, pen ink freezes, glasses freeze to people’s faces, and mobile phone service is non-existent.
Oymyakon weather might be in a deep freeze but it’s not too cold to prevent children heading to the classroom. Shcool only get a day off if the temperature dips below -52°C.
Most people spent as little time as possible outdoors in order to avoid the frigid temperatures
To get to Oymyakon, take a flight from Moscow to Yakutsk and follow it with a two-day drive to Oymyakon.
Gulag road, also known as Road of Bones, named after the thousands of gulag prisoners who died building it, their bodies buried just beneath its surface, when people died in the harsh conditions whilst constructing the road they were simply included into the road’s make-up. The ground was too hard to bury people in, so they figured they would make them part of the road itself.
This is the original old Gulag Road. The one and only road to Oymyakon
Inside the house of the coldest village
In regions of permafrost, buildings must be constructed on pilings, machinery must be made of specially tempered steel, and transportation systems must be engineered to perform reliably in extremely low and extremely high temperatures.
Going to the bathroom is a bit of an adventure.
The frozen ground makes it difficult for working indoor plumbing, so most of Oymyakon’s homes have outdoor toilets.
People in Oymyakon don’t often eat many vegetables and fruits because due to the harsh climate not many types of fruits or vegetables can grow there, but there are some types of berries, leaf plants and root vegetables that grow in the nature.
Their diets consist mainly of reindeer meat, horse meat, fish, and milk from their farm animals.
It takes seven truckloads of wood, to heat the house in the winter with temperature -50°C to -60°C. Many people have been forced to leave because with the lose of government subsidies they can no longer afford it.
Most home in Oymyakon still burn coal and wood for heat and cooking.
Everything is expensive because it has to be brought in from outside. Nothing grows locally. The only locally produced meat comes from hunted animals such as reindeer, moose and rabbits. The only source of calcium and many other crucial micronutrients is deer milk. It helps the locals stay fit.
But in such seemingly inhuman conditions, the local population has managed to find a compromise with nature. Local residents enjoy clean air and water, an active lifestyle and healthy food.
People in Oymyakon don’t often eat many vegetables and fruits because due to the harsh climate not many types of fruits or vegetables can grow there, but there are some types of berries, leaf plants and root vegetables that grow in the nature. Their diets consist mainly of reindeer meat, horse meat, fish, and milk from their farm animals. They compensate for the lack of fruit by collecting wild berries.
Crobo (crucian carp) is most widely eaten fish by Yakut people. It is eaten cooked, fried on pan or grilled on fire. Most known delicacy is Stroganina – thin long slices of frozen fresh river fish which is eaten frozen during wintertime, which is usually served accompanied by vodka.
According to the local, they have never once in their lives been sick. They believe that the cause of their health lies in two local dairy products: hayak and kyorchekh. Hayak in its flavor and color is reminiscent of fatty oil. The recipe for kyorchekh is similar to ice cream: fresh cow’s milk is whipped with berries, partially frozen and converted into cakes.
Vodka nickname is Russian tea or an appetizer, when vodka speak then we will understand each other and langguage is not a problem anymore.
A bedroom at local house.
She is Valentina, the home owner.
Horse Breeder of the coldest village
The Yakut Horse is a rare horse breed from the Siberian, Sakha republic region.
The size of the horse is way larger in comparison to a Mongolian Horse. The Yakut horse’s winter hair reaches about 10cm in length & it has a very thick . As the daylight hours shorten, the horse begins to grow a longer coat. This is triggered by the light that enters the horse’s and glands that govern hair growth is activated. The short hairs of the summer coat fall out, and longer hair grows in its place to help the horse stay warm throughout the colder weather.
Yakut horses are well-adapted to the extreme cold and to survive without shelter in temperatures that reach -60°C.
One of their traits is the ability to find vegetation to graze on under the deep snow very thick and long hair, resilient skin and a layer of fat, they are the most frost resistant of all known breeds.
They can produce up to 105 kilos of live weight meat when they are 6 months old, 165 kilos by 30 months, and about 228 when adult.
Raising horses is one of the main sources of income for many residents of the region.
The Yakut horse averages about 150cm in height. Yakut horses are used for their meat and milk.
Steam coming from their nostrils in the sub-freezing temperatures
The horse breeder cleaning the snow from the horse.
The hose breeder need to make sure that the horse is well fed. A very hungry horse will be a cold horse, and the body’s response will be to grow a thicker coat to compensate.
Horse breeder’s camp in a temperature minus 48 degree celcius.
Inside the camp
Their diets consist mainly of reindeer meat, horse meat, fish, and milk from their farm animals.
In winter sunrise only last for 3 hours.
The horse breeder.
Fishing in temperature minus 46°C
Oymyakon in Russia, is the coldest village on earth. known as the ” Pole of Cold”. The Winter temperature will drop between -48°C to – 55°C, and all rivers will be frozen.
On our visit to Oymyakon, the villagers showed us how to catch a fish from a frozen river where the temperature is at minus 46 °C.
First they place a fishing net through the first hole that has been dug two seperate holes between 3 meters and will return to check the fish net on the next day.
The fisherman will put the fishing net through a hole, using a net placed under the ice, through two holes and will return to check the fish net on the next day
The fish from the fresh water tastes very good, as the water is very clean. The most well known delicacy in Oymyakon is Stroganina – thin long slices of frozen fresh river fish which is eaten frozen during the wintertime, and is usually served together with vodka.
The fisherman showed us the fish he caught. For Oymyakon/Yakutia people, fish can be eaten cooked, fried, grilled or frozen also known as Stroganina, a well know delicacy for Yakutia people.
He is showing us the trap for fox.
The fox getting frozen in the trap.
Usually they only take the fur without eating the meat. The fur is consider very higher price in the market.
He is Igor, very nice fisherman from Oymyakon.