coldest city woman in black

Yakutian woman amidst the fog of city center – created by cars, people, and steam from factories, the fog is thick and heavy through the coldest weeks of winter.
Source: Amos Chapple

As New England braces for what many have called a “historic snowstorm”, one city in particular has it even worse, and just about every single day. People in Oymyakon, Russia face frigid temperatures like no other place on Earth. Located just a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle, Oymyakon is the world’s coldest permanently settled area, nestled deep in the Russian tundra.

New Zealand photographer Amos Chapple recently made an expedition to the region to document the daily life of its inhabitants. Chapple found that the residents of Yakutsk, the nearest city in the region, were surprisingly wealthy and described the city as cosmopolitan. The affluence comes from the plentiful resources around Yakutsk including oil, gas, and diamonds. But is it worth it?

The photos below document the obstacles of life in such bitter conditions (the average January temperature is a bitter -34 °Fahrenheit) as well as the strength and determination of the people who live there.

coldest city gas station

Source: Amos Chapple

Working two weeks on and two weeks off, employees of isolated regional 24-hour gas stations are vital to ensure that the economy can keep running in spite of inclement conditions.

coldest city WWII statues

Source: Amos Chapple

Statues of soldiers stand frozen in a park dedicated to the fallen of World War II.

coldest city sleeping dogs

Source: Amos Chapple

It isn’t only people who have to deal with the dangerous conditions; a dog curls up to sleep and keep warm in the carpark outside of Café Cuba.

coldest city frozen road

Source: Amos Chapple

Constructed by gulagged prison workers and known as the “Road of Bones”, Russia’s Kolyma Highway is the only major land route into or out of Yakutsk.

coldest city bus stop

Source: Amos Chapple

A dog hesitantly makes its way onto the street near an icy bus stop in Yakutsk.

coldest city kraft bust

Source: Amos Chapple

One of the first governors of Yakutia, this bust of Ivan Kraft stands covered in ice for the majority of the year.

coldest city frosted shoes

Source: Amos Chapple

Someone’s summer shoes hanging inside a shed in the Yakutsk suburbs, waiting out the long and frigid winter.

coldest city steamy entrance

Source: Amos Chapple

A swirl of steam and freezing mist surrounds a woman as she enters Preobrazhensky Cathedral, the largest in Yakutsk.

coldest city crossing light

Source: Amos Chapple

On a day of -63 °F, a woman covers her face with her mitten to protect it from the dangerous cold. In the background a statue of former Vladimir Lenin can be seen.

coldest city frozen house

Source: Amos Chapple

Ice-covered houses like the one shown here are common sights in the middle of Yakutsk.

coldest city fish market

Source: Amos Chapple

There is no need for refrigeration at the public market; the frigid air ensures that the fish as well as the rabbit stay frozen and fresh until they can be sold.

Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly is a freelance writer, artist and video editor that splits her time between the humid Midwest and the dusty corners of her mind.
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