Can you imagine living in a place so cold that most houses can’t have indoor plumbing? Or somewhere so cold that you have to leave your car running overnight just to make sure it doesn’t freeze by the morning? For many of us, the winter months present a set of unique challenges. For the residents of Oymyakon, Russia, however, the struggles are unimaginable.
Oymyakon, deemed ‘The Coldest Place on Earth’, is situated a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle, nestled in a corner of Siberia. During winter months, the town can spend up to 21 hours a day in total darkness. The average January temperature is a shocking -51°F.
It can be hard to imagine why people would want to live (or even visit!) somewhere that presents such big challenges in terms of climate and weather. But that’s exactly what one brave photographer, Amos Chapple, set out to do, traveling over 10,000 miles to get a taste of Oymyakon daily life. “I shoot travel photos aimed at the news sections of papers and need a headling to hang a story one,” Chapple explained to Wired. “‘The Coldest Place on Earth’ is pretty irresistible.” During his voyage, Chapple spent multiple weeks in Oymyakon and Yakutsk (the nearest city) photographing scenes of daily life and getting to know the residents. He had certain difficulties, however. For example, he says the cold would constantly keep freezing the zoom and focus rings of his camera in place.
He recalls, “I was wearing thin trousers when I first stepped outside into – 47 °C (-52°F). 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.”
Despite the challenges that Chapple faced, his photos are a remarkable testament to the cold, bleak landscape and the inspiring residents who brave its challenges every, single day.
See for yourself below!
The ‘Road of Bones” is the only way to get into Oymyakon.
When you arrive, the sign reads, “Omyakon, The Pole of Cold”.
The entire area is blanketed in thick ice and snow.
Residents have one working store where they can purchase items.
And their market is loaded with frozen meat and fish; it’s too cold for the farmers to grow any crops.
Most toilets are built outside…
Because it’s too cold for houses to sustain indoor plumbing.
Any cars left outside must be left running overnight. Otherwise, they won’t start in the morning.
Farmers keep their animals in indoor barns to make sure they safe warm during the night.
And the entire town is heated with the help of coal.
Do you think you could make it Oymakon?
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