You Probably Couldn’t Survive In Oymyakon, The Coldest City In The World

Published January 26, 2015
Updated December 3, 2018

Blizzards and snowstorms aside, you should probably be grateful that your winters look nothing like Oymyakon's, the world's coldest city.

Oymyakon Russia The Coldest City In The World

akutian 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.

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 to live in the coldest city in the world?

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 in Oymyakon:

Gas Station In World's Coldest City

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.

Oymyakon

Source: Amos Chapple

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

Sleeping Dogs In Oymyakon Russia

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.

Completely 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.

Photos Of Oymyakon Russia

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.

World's Coldest City

Source: Amos Chapple

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

The Coldest City In The World

Source: Amos Chapple

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

Crossing Light

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.

Frozen House

Source: Amos Chapple

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

Fish Market In Oymyakon

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.

Pictures Of Oymyakon, The Coldest City On Earth

Source: Amos Chapple

On the way to Oymyakon, gasoline can freeze solid if the vehicle is not left running. Sometimes during long night drives the driver will stop in the middle of the road and sleep in the car with lights shining and the engine running.

Inside The Coldest City On Earth

Shortly before the photo was taken, a young drunk man in Oymyakon warned Chapple, “In the nighttime these streets belong to me.”

Life In Oymyakon

Source: Amos Chapple

A man uses a torch to thaw the driveshaft of his frozen truck.

Pit Latrines

Source: Amos Chapple

Due to the difficulty of digging plumbing in the region, most bathrooms are pit latrines out on the street. Retired school teacher Alexander Platonov bundles up to make the dash to the toilet.

Cow Stable

Source: Amos Chapple

To keep his cows from freezing, farmer Nicholai Petrovich has a highly insulated stable that they sleep in at night.

Supply Shop In Oymyakon

Source: Amos Chapple

Oymyakon has but one shop to provide supplies to the remote and isolated community.

Frozen Tractor

Early each day this tractor is used to supply new coal to the plant and remove the burnt cinder from the previous day.

Coldest Temperatures On Earth

Source: Amos Chapple

A Communist-era sign which reads “Oymyakon, The Pole of Cold” marks the record breaking low of -96.16 °F in 1924.

Life In Cold Cities

Oymyakon’s heating plant runs round the clock with an ever present plume of smoke rising into the winter sky.


If you were fascinated by this look inside Oymyakon, the world’s coldest city, you’ll enjoy our other posts on the Swedish hotel made out of ice and the seventeen most unbelievable places on Earth.

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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