Oymyakon sits at a 63.4608° N, 142.7858° E latitude, just a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle. It’s dark — completely, utterly dark — for up to 21 hours a day during the winter, and the temperature often averages below -58°F. That’s practically balmy compared to one February in 1933, when Oymyakon earned its title as the coldest place on Earth when the temperature peaked at -96°F. Life is different there, coated in a layer permafrost and perpetual twilight.
Oymyakon has only one shop, which this man is visiting while he leaves his van idling to stay warm. Because of the cold, cars are kept in heated garages or, if left outside, left running all the time.
This soviet era sign sites in the center of Oymyakon. It reads “Oymyakon, the Pole of Cold”.
A drunk staying warm in Oymyakon.
A man walks away from Oymyakon’s general store. There are around 500 people that call Oymyakon home.
A digger piles coal ash on a heap near the Oymyakon heating plant.
Oymyakon’s small heating plant is seen at the left of this photo of the town at dusk.
The soviet-era van seen here just outside of the town is called a Uazik. These vans are widely favored in Siberia for their ability to stand up to the cold. They are often equipped with industrial-sized heating fans in the passenger compartment. The locals refer to them as “loaves” for their distinctive shape.
Extremely remote remote petrol stations are open 24 hours and staffed by men who have two-week on two-week off shifts. The station seen here is located midway between Oymyakon and Yakutsk.
A toilet on the tundra, midway between Oymyakon and Yakutsk. Inside are two wooden slats above a pit. These are not emptied often.
Almost everything is perpetually coated in frost, like this bridge in Yakutsk.
At a market in the centre of Yakutsk, a woman holds up an arctic hare for sale along with stacks of frozen fish.
A guard dog in the suburbs of Yakutsk.
Warm droughts of air escaping from buildings freeze into puffs of ice which form, fall, and reform throughout winter in Yakutsk.
Statues in a Yakutsk park commemorating WWII, also covered in frost. During World War II, an airfield was built here for the Alaska-Siberian air route used to ferry American Lend-Lease aircraft to the Eastern Front.
The freezing fog which settles on the city in January coats everything, including this traffic light.
A woman enters Yakutsk’s Preobrazhensky Cathedral on Christmas Day, January 7th in Russia, in an ethereal glow of frozen mist.
Summer shoes waiting for the sun to shine again from a shed in the suburbs of Yakutsk.
The temperatures during the winter are so cold that people in Oymyakon regularly consume frozen meat and must warm the ground with a bonfire for several days before burying their dead. Crops don’t grow in the frozen ground, which creates an interesting diet for the locals. It often includes reindeer meat, raw flesh shaved from frozen fish, and ice cubes of horse blood with macaroni. It’s tough to understand why anyone lives here, but as they say, home is where the heart is.