Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Oymyakon, Siberia - the Pole of Cold

350 Kms south of the Arctic Circle, at 63°15′N , 143°9′E, Oymyakon is the permanently inhabitated place on earth where the lowest temperature has been registered (January 26, 1926):

Everest min. - 41ºC
Oymyakon min. - 71,2 ºC

This region of  Yakutia is considered as the coldest place in Siberia and the northern hemisphere. It is situated in an area of Siberia nicknamed "Stalin's Death Ring" (a former destination for political exiles).

The residents of this small settlement in north-eastern Russia consider it a normal winter day when the temperature hovers around -45°C, which is the average winter temperature. Oymyakon's solitary school shuts only when temperatures fall below -52º C ! Residents usually leave their vehicles running all day and warn visitors against wearing glasses outside, as they will freeze to a person's face...
The snow covered track between Tomtor and Oymyakon: about 2 hours are needed to cover the distance of 50km, OR, things can get worse...

Oymyakon is a village of many small wooden houses, still burning coal and wood for heat; about 1200 people live there, in a valley between two mountain ranges (that's why low temperatures happen). The name Oymyakon means "non-freezing water" because of the natural hot spring close to the village.

Most locals resort to reindeer-breeding, hunting and ice-fishing for their livelihoods. Breeding horses is also a traditional activity:

The Yakutian horse or simply the Yakut is a rare native horse breed from the region. It is noted for its adaptation to the extreme cold climate, including the ability to locate and graze on vegetation that is under deep snow cover.

Vostok, Antarctica: -89.2C (scientific base)
Oymyakon, Russia: -71.2C
Verkhoyansk, Russia: -67.7C
Snag, Yukon, Canada: -63C
Prospect Creek, Alaska, US: -62.1C

The monument to the "coldest inhabitated place on earth" :