And you thought your winter nights were cold? Take a trip to the tiny Russian village of Oymyakon, home to about 500 people, where ‘a bit chilly’ refers to an average temperature around -50 degrees celsius.
Photographer Amos Chapple visited the small town for two days and was blown away with the freezing temperatures. “I was wearing thin trousers when I first stepped outside into -47 Celcius,” he told weather.com. “I remember feeling like the cold was physically gripping my legs.”
Ironically, Oymyakon means ‘unfrozen water’, due to the thermal spring located nearby. Originally, the location was used by reindeer herders who would water their flock in the warm springs.
Interesting ways of life emerged as Chapple documented the way the locals avoid frostbite and coped with the blistering cold. Residents live primarily off meat, as crops cannot be grown due to the frozen soil.
“Frozen raw Arctic fish, white salmon, whitefish and frozen raw horse liver are considered to be delicacy,” shared local Bolot Bochkarev. “In daily life, we like eating the soup with meat. The meat is a must. It helps our health.”
Cars left outside need to be kept running, otherwise they will not restart and locals keep their vehicles in heated garages. The frozen ground makes it difficult for working indoor plumbing, so most toilets are outhouses.
Digging graves is also another problem the small town faces, as the ground has to be warmed with a bonfire before a funeral. Planes cannot fly into the area in the winter, and according to The Independent, wearing glasses outdoors can cause them to stick to the wearer’s face.
The New Zealander photojournalist travelled to the isolated town in search of uplifting stories, however the extreme cold made it challenging for him to use his camera properly, and focusing the lens would sometimes be as difficult as opening a pickle jar.
Oymyakon is a two-day drive from the coldest major city Yakutsk, and temperatures have been recorded as low as -90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, summers in Oymyakon and Yakutsk are relatively warm, averaging mid-60s and 70s Fahrenheit, and the days can get around 21 hours of sunlight.
How breathtaking is this icy little town?! Check out all of Chapple’s photographs from his visit to Oymakon and Yakutsk here and his website full of his other worldly travels is definitely worth a look.