Siberia, Russia (20.12.2014 – 03.01.2015)
#cold #yakutia #siberia #russia
Northeast siberia is one of the mostisolated regions on this planet. Cold winter but amazing countrysides. I travelled to Yakutsk which is known as the coldest city on earth. Temperatures below -50°C can occur. Yakutsk is quite a big city (300,000 inhabitants) and has a university. It's the capital of the republic of Sakha and located in Yakutia.
I spent a couple of days in the city to see how people can survive and manage daily life in extreme cold weather.
When it is below -40°C there is always ice fog which is actually really annoying because the visibility is extremely low and you see nothing
My actual purpose was visiting Oymyakon, the coldest inhabited place on Mother Earth (-71,2°C / -96,2°F in
My couchsurfing host Sima and me took a plane to a little settlement called Ust-Nera. From there we continued the trip
around 500 km by taxi. Well it was not really a taxi. Maybe tank is a better word. The ride was quite awful, bumpy and very uncomfortable and took us 10 hours. If you compare the
situation to European road conditions, Siberian roads are horrible but in winter it is nearly perfect because everything is frozen. In summer when the first layers of permafrost will thaw
the roads get muddy and almost impossible to pass. At some point I felt really sick because of the shaking car (tank) and I thought about asking the driver if he could stop because I had
the feeling I might vomit. But then we finally reached Tomtor and I had survived the nightmare ride through the endless taiga by night. Thank god.
Impressions of my host family. They have everything to survive. Happy friendly people.
Olga sees Euro (€) notes and coins I brought from Germany for the first time in her life. Unbelievable moment.
A local saleswoman calculates the price with an very very old calculator made by wood.
This shows how easy those people live.
The next day we took the same taxi (car, tank, whatever) to Oymyakon. It took 90 minutes for 40 km and then we reached the coldest place on earth: OYMYAKON here I am!
We arrived quite late after 8pm and it was already dark outside. Sima and me stayed for 2 nights at Tamaras place. Tamara is an 67-year-old lady who has been living in Oymyakon all her life. She knows a lot about the cold and measurements. For me as a meteorologist it was super exciting to talk about cold and weather with her. In Oymyakon there are no hotels or other accommodations. You stay with host families like we did in Tomtor before.
OYMYAKON - OJMJAKON - OIMJAKON :
Tamara in traditional clothes.
How people in the worldst coldest villages live
-71,2°C / -96,2°F in 1926 but no one can prove it due
to lack of no offical weather station back in the past. Today there is a weather station and almost every winter the temperatures drop down below -60°C.
After 2 nights we took a shared car 1000 km all the way back to Yakutsk which took 21 hours. We did three breaks only! It was a modern car, a bit more comfortable but still uncomfortable. After a while I asked the driver, how many hours left to Yakutsk. He said ''We are almost there!''. I was so happy but to make sure I asked him: ''How many minutes or hours (!?) left?'' He said: ''We are very close, like 5-6 hours away [...]''.
I don't know how I survived it, but as you might know, everything will come to an end at some point.
Enjoy the wonderful landscape of the verkhoyansk range:
Back in Yakutsk: A very mild and nice day with -25°C and no fog.
New years eve
HOW TO SURVIVE IN BELOW -50°C?
One of the most commen questions I get is how people survive or how the local people organise their daily life during this extreme cold. I do not really have an easy answer. Life is going slowlier there. As I said, no running water, no internet or at least very poor internet connection...people stay together and support each other. It is absolutely necessary. By the way summer time is very hot with temperatures over +30°C.
HOW DOES -56°C FEEL LIKE?
Most important thing: warm clothes and a lot of layers! One thick winter jacket is bad and you will freeze immediately. The lowest temperature I got was -56°C (-69°F) on December 26th 2014. Well I do not really have words for it. You know when the temperature drops down to -20°C your nose will freezes lightly. If you breathe air at -50°C you will feel that your face gets numb quite fast. That is why I have worn a mask to cover the face. If you have warm clothes the cold is not really a problem. I stayed outside at -56°C longer than one hour but maybe I am an extreme example...
All in all I would say that my trip was not really a vacation like other people do. It was an adventure with no guarantee if I would ever reach Oymyakon. The so-called 'road of bones' which is the only possibility to reach Oymyakon is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Precarious road conditions like broken bridges made of wood, extreme isolation, no villages, no gas stations. If you get stuck you can freeze to death easily and every year this happens to some people.
If you have questions, feel free to ask me and do not hesitate to fill out my online contact form.