If you thought that the temperatures in New York City or Alaska are freezing, then you’ve never visited the Russian village of Oymyakon. It’s known as the coldest village on the entire planet, and it’s not surprising given that the temperature has been known to drop as low as –96F (-71C). With temperatures this cold, you can’t help but wonder how the villagers even manage to survive the winter months. But locals have managed to do it, and travelers have even ventured to this remote village to figure out how the coldest place on Earth remains habitable. Just learning about Oymyakon will give you the chills.
Oymyakon is located in a remote area in the country Russia, and you’ll notice its proximity to the arctic.
In this northeastern Russian village, the average temperature reaches –58 degrees Fahrenheit in the month of January, but the temperatures have been known to go much more than that. It’s a wonder how anyone stays warm here.
Villagers risk it all to live here, and so do the travelers who come to this remote town.
From a distance, life in this extremely cold area seems impossible, but it’s the coldest place on the planet that actually has humans living in it. Imagine trying to keep the lens on a camera from frosting over when you’re taking a selfie or checking your makeup in your compact mirror.
The cold winter temperatures make conventional life a lot more difficult for both locals and tourists.
Temperatures cause eyeglasses to literally get stuck to men, women, and children’s faces, because of the cold. It can also make it very difficult for students to write since the temperatures tend to freeze the ink in the pens.
Villagers in Oymyakon don’t get to experience the day in the same way as the rest of us.
During the winter, they’re lucky to get 3 hours of sunshine per day, which is ironic, since in the summer, they get 21 hours of full sunshine. But the grounds are so frozen by the chilly climate that the ice doesn’t melt away.
In order to survive, the locals here have to find whatever means necessary to survive.
In fact, horse meat and reindeer meat are the primary sources of protein for the people of Oymyakon. Of course, seafood, and rabbit are also available at the markets too. But, boy is that diet limited or what?
This path has two names, but you certainly wouldn’t want to know what lies beneath your tires.
It’s officially known as the Kolyma Highway, but it was constructed using the bones of forced laborers, who died. Their remains were used as the foundation for the highway, which is why it became known as the Road of Bones.
At the entrance of Earth’s coldest village is a sign in Russian that reads “Oymyakon, The Pole Of Cold.”
It’s essentially a warning to travelers that they’re about to enter one of the coldest, and most remote regions in the world. It’s almost surprising to believe that in the summer, the temperature can go as high as 94F.
Horses and pets have to get by on the kindness of the human villagers in order to survive.
Unfortunately, the freezing temperatures make it impossible to grow any kind of crops here throughout the year, so that poor horse that’s trying to dig for food in the ground is practically wasting its time. This also explains why the villagers rely heavily on meat.
There is another downside to the freezing temperatures that totally bums kids out here.
If you happen to be a kid in Oymyakon, school doesn’t get canceled unless the temperature drops below 61F. In other words, they have to endure the chilly weather in school, but it’s still better than freezing outside.
You’re probably wondering how the folks in this village manage to avoid freezing to death.
With the temperatures so low, a home or a school can turn into a cold storage locker fast. Fortunately, Oymyakon can thank the coal heating plant for keeping everyone warm during the extremely cold winter.
Oymyakon doesn’t get a lot of warm days, but they also don’t have a lot of people either.
The entire town’s population is limited to 500 people. The village was originally intended as a pit stop so that herders could feed their reindeer and give them water and get them all warmed up for the long journey.
When the warmth in a home escapes, it creates an unusual phenomenon around some homes.
As the warm air leaves the house, the freezing temperatures turn the air into ice, which instantly falls and reforms into ice over the roofs and windows of the homes of Oymyakon. So, it’s safe to say that whatever is warm here, doesn’t stay that way for very long.
You’re probably thinking that it’s so cruel to keep this Yakutian horse outdoors without protection.
Fortunately, they have a natural fur coat that protects them from the cold elements. All horses have to get brushed with a metal brush to get rid of ice clumps that build up over time. This has to be done every 4 weeks or the horse will freeze to death.
While snow might look all nice and pretty in these photos, it’s a different story when you’re living there.
If you think you can manage the temperatures of –61F, then go for it. It really can be very beautiful. It’s just tough to imagine surviving the cold weather inside this home if the coal heating factory were to ever cut out.
Did you ever stop to wonder why the Russians named this village Oymyakon in the first place?
It turns out that Oymyakon means “non-freezing water,” which doesn’t seem to make sense given that everything in here seems to freeze. But the town has a thermal spring, which many reindeer herders used to warm up their animals. Hence why the name Oymyakon became the town’s official name.
Maybe you’d like to be a daredevil and consider taking a dip in the stinging cold waters.
In this photo, a man dubbed “Keeper of Cold” decided to plunge into one of the cold waters of Siberia. Oddly enough, European tourists come from all over to take a dip in the local river that oddly enough, never freezes over. But imagine walking out afterwards. It chills us to the bone.
The Keeper of the Cold,” who’s also known as Chiskhaan, didn’t mind peeling off some layers.
After taking off his clothes, he swam in the river of Kuydusun. Naturally, while he swam, the air temperature continued to drop to its usual -60C. But what some consider impossible, others consider a challenge worth taking.
Oymyakon is a place that has very few of the amenities that we’re used to, but it attracts tourists.
Just don´t be surprised if your car won’t start because the pipes and fuel tank have frozen over. Also, the freezing temperatures tend to kill the battery in your car after about 5 hours, so let’s hope you have two solid legs to walk with.
Unlike most tropical hot spots, Oymyakon does offer tourists some nifty little options.
There’s not a lot to do here, but you can still do some ice fishing, reindeer hunting, if you like that sort of thing, or take a dip in the hot spring. Of course, enjoying a warm cup of cocoa inside your coal-heated home doesn’t sound too bad either.
In the end, it doesn’t even matter how long you’ve stayed in Oymyakon, as long as you experience it.
As the sun starts to set early, as usual, over the horizon, you can enjoy the frozen sea in the distance as you drive through the Road of Bones, with a broader perspective of how people survive the chilly weather here, and a deeper appreciation for warmer weather.