Amazing Facts of Coldest Habitable Place on Earth

If you are asked about the coldest habitable place on Earth, would you be able to give the correct answer? You would certainly think of an area near the poles. A small little village known as Oymyakon at the height of 750 meters above sea level in eastern Siberia which is quite near the Arctic Circle boasts this title. One of the famous photographers, Amos Chapple, visited this amazing place and spent almost five weeks, capturing its beauty and people’s way of life. The only way to reach this beautiful place is to travel via plane to Yakutsk and then driving further for two days. Let’s increase our knowledge regarding this place and read some amazing facts about Oymyakon.

Oymyakon- the Pole of Cold

The average temperature is around -58F during winters while it fell as low as -96°F (-71°C) in the year 1924 and there is a monument in the town square to commemorate this particular day. The sign reads, “Oymyakon- the Pole of Cold”. Winters seem forever here although summers months are short-lived and come with a bit moderate temperatures. Days are as short as 3 hours a day in December and as long as 21 hours a day in June/July.

The irony of ‘Non-freezing water’

The first settlement started in the 1920s when a group of resilient and hardworking herders stopped at the thermal spring to water their reindeers. The presence of hot spring gave it its name as Oymyakon which means ‘non-freezing water’. The current population of the village is 500.

Oymyakon Coldest Habitable Place on Earth

Road of Bones

The closest city center is Yakutsk which is the capital of the Sakha region of northeastern Russia and two days’ drive from Oymyakon along the barren and isolated R504 Kolyma Highway. The highway is commonly called ‘Road of Bones’ due to the huge death rate during its making. Termed as the coldest city of the world, the Yakutsk population consists of some 250,000 tough people and the temperature reaches around -30°F here.

Limited Food Options

Because of the severe cold, hardly any crop can be grown. So the locals have very limited options when it comes to eating. They rely on meat and fish, like salmon or white fish, which is sometimes eaten raw in its frozen form. Horse liver is also happily eaten. Friendly locals drink a special hot Russian tea named Russki chai (their word for vodka) to deal with the chill weather. Reindeer soup is their all-time favorite.

Harsh Living Conditions

As the engines freeze in dead low temperatures, the cars are kept running all the time and the gas stations along the route are never closed. They stay open 24/7. Workers of the petrol stations work for a full two weeks and the next two weeks, shifts change.

Locals become accustomed to the challenging weather and the schools only shut if the temperature lowers to -52°C. As the water pipes get frozen, people are forced to use outdoor toilets. Burning either wood or coal is the only mean of producing heat. Large fires are lit to warm the soil so that they can bury their loved ones. Simple things like saliva or eyelashes freeze into painful needles while walking down the street.

Recalling the extreme effects of the harsh cold, Chapple had difficulty using his camera as the cold started affecting its mechanics. He said, “Breath-mist was as thick as cigar smoke and so I had to hold my breath when taking a picture”.

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