Amos Chapple Captures The Coldest Town Inhabited On Earth In His Gorgeous Photographs
If you are one of those rare people who absolutely love winters and do not mind spending their whole lives in a snow-covered area then you should probably think of shifting to the village of Oymyakon, Russia which has been named as the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth. The village experiences low temperatures of around -58° F in the winter months and have even seen days when temperature went as low as -96.16° F in 1924.
Adventure photographer, Amos Chapple visited Oymyakon and its nearby town, Yakutsk to document the life of people there and his pictures have actually turned out to exotically beautiful.
Even after proper preparation for the cold weather, Chapple was surprised by the intensity of cold in the town. “I remember feeling like the cold was physically gripping my legs. The other surprise was that occasionally my saliva would freeze into needles that would prick my lips,” Chapple told the Weather Channel. Chapple says a full day in this environment was “exhausting.”
People in Oymyakon cannot rely on vegetables or fruits since the ground is too cold for vegetation. Hence they turn towards animal husbandry or municipal work, such as at the heating plants in town shown in the picture below, for income.
“Russki chai, literally Russian tea, helps the locals get by in the extreme weather. Russkii Chai is basically their word for vodka,” Chapple tells weather.com
The communist-era monument says “Oymyakon, the Pole of Cold” as a remembrance of the coldest day experienced by the locals in the village in 1924 when the temperature dropped to -96.16 °F.
The locals benefit with a thriving economy in Yakutsk due to the strong diamond trade.
Stating the ethnicity of this village, Chapple says that Yakuts do not really feel proud about the Cold War,”far more outward looking than Russians, and don’t carry the sense of wounded pride in the collapse of empire,” Chapple says.
Only 300,000 inhabit the city and the mean temperatures during the winters at this place goes around −30 °F.
Outhouses are used in the village since the extremely cold weather eliminates the possibility of fitting pipes to run down water into the village’s houses.
Yakutians identify completely with the climate of their surrounding . Chapple says that “life rolls on much like anywhere else, but with an eye constantly on the thermometer. Below -58 F° and things start to shut down.”
The biggest irony is that Oymyakon means “unfrozen water,” in the language spoken in Siberia. It is believed that the name is a reference towards the thermal springs in town that reindeer herders used to visit.
Yakutsk is the gateway to Oymyakon, widely regarded as the coldest inhabited town on the planet. It takes two days to reach Oymyakon from Yakutsk through the barren and completely remote road.
The coldest place inhabited on earth becomes actually a bearable town in summers with moderate temperature and a record high temperature of 96° F. The summers however last for a very short span of time.
“Workers in the isolated petrol stations of the region work two-weeks on, two weeks off,” Chapple says, since the cars need to be kept running through out the day in such low temperatures hence the gas stations function throughout the day, too.
Chapple describes how difficult it was to operate a camera in the village. “Breath-mist was as thick as cigar smoke and so I had to hold my breath when taking a picture,” Chapple says. Focusing the camera lens became laborious as well, as the cold began to take grip on its mechanics.
Chapple got stranded for two days in a remote cafe, “Cafe Cuba”, located in the frozen wasteland along the road. He depended on reindeer soup until the car came to rescue him and helped him to finish his journey.
The locals depend on frozen raw fish, such as salmon, whitefish, and horse liver or turn towards meat soup for their diet.
Chapple describes how he barely saw people getting out of their homes to merely socialize with the new people in town. “The only people outside were either dashing between houses with their mitts clasped to their faces, or were drunk and looking for trouble,” he stated.
“I tried to cook meals for them as thanks but it’s pretty hard to put together a plate of nachos in deep Siberia,” Chapple says.
Large fires are lit in order to warm the soil in case of any burial in Oymyakon as the ground is otherwise too frozen.
Images: © Amos Chapple
h/t: Business Insider