Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
Travel

A Look at Winter in the World's Coldest City

Siberia has a reputation for extreme cold, but for the inhabitants of Yakutsk, the remote capital of Yakutia in Russia's far eastern Sakha Republic, temperatures of -40 Centigrade are a breeze. Cold even by Siberian standards, its rich resources of diamonds and gold bring with it the reward of higher salaries and a standard of living hard to equal outside Moscow. The vast Yakutiya-Sakha republic is about nine times the land area of Germany, with a population of 1 million. The village of Oymyakon recorded the lowest-ever temperature in a permanently inhabited place: a bone-numbing -71.2 Centigrade. Photographs by Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

  1. Look Ma, No Gloves!
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    Look Ma, No Gloves!

    Daily "highs" around -40 centigrade don't worry a fish vendor as he casually smokes and waits for customers at the Krestyansky open air market. No gloves required. The fish, however, look frozen stiff. 

  2. Fur Chic
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    Fur Chic

    Warmth and comfort take priority over fashion chic as local women, dressed head-to-toe in furs, wait to cross a road. The simple act of waiting for the traffic lights to turn can be an act of survival for the underdressed.

  3. Lenin Square
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    Lenin Square

    With no shortage of ice, each year artists put it to good use and create an annual spectacle of lavish sculptures on Lenin Square. Other local places of interest include a mammoth museum. They used to hang out here too.

  4. Outdoor Freezer
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    Outdoor Freezer

    An extreme way of life is a necessity for the city's population of around 300,000.  For perspective, your home freezer is around -15 Centigrade. Here, the outdoor temperature can hit -50. It's cold enough to render boatyards, like this one in Zhatay village, useless for most of the year. 

  5. Going Nowhere
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    Going Nowhere

    Arctic ice renders the shipping port unusable throughout the winter months. Ferry boats and cargo ships become trapped in the thick ice that jams the Lena River. The springtime thaw can cause catastrophic flooding.

  6. Shipyard Worker
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    Shipyard Worker

    A worker fires up a chainsaw for boat maintenance at a frozen boatyard on the Lena River. Ice renders the river impassable for much of the year. Boat tenders are redundant. 

  7. City Bus
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    City Bus

    Diamond-rich Yakutiya-Sakha rests on a layer of permafrost 450 feet thick. The majority of the buildings rest on wooden stilts, driven into the permafrost by steam hammers.

  8. Cold Start
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    Cold Start

    Alexander Dyachkovsky, 49, a hunter, demonstrates the health routine of the Russian mystic Porfiry Ivanov (1898-1983) by dousing himself outdoors with a bucket of ice cold water in temperatures of -41 Centigrade. Followers believe it brings them closer to nature.

  9. Instant Freeze
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    Instant Freeze

    The instant freezing of hot water is demonstrated on the winter ice road across the Lena River. Reliable extremes of temperature mean there has never been a need to build a bridge across the river, the world's 10th longest. 

  10. Frozen River
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    Frozen River

    During Siberia’s long winter, the city's drinking water has to be heated before being pumped through the distribution system to stop pipes from freezing. Hot water also has to be injected into sewer pipes to make waste water treatment possible in Arctic temperatures. Severe climate significantly increases the cost of operating Yakutsk’s water system.

  11. Sorting Center
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    Sorting Center

    Yakutsk is the capital of Russia's diamond-producing Yakutiya region and a major supplier of rough diamonds.  Here, an employee sorts through a large collection of rough diamonds at ZAO Alrosa's Yakutsk Diamond Trading Enterprise.

  12. Rough Diamonds
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    Rough Diamonds

    Alrosa, the world’s largest rough diamond producer, will probably sell $450 million to $500 million in its first sale of the year.  The company produces most of its gemstones in the Yakutia region.

  13. Brown Bear
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    Brown Bear

    A brown bear skin with a price tag of $2,283 sits for sale in one of the city's fur stores.  Workshops use caribou hide shipped in from hunters in the distant north to make the traditional "unty" boots popular with locals. Siberian furs are traded around the world.

  14. Midnight Sun
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    Midnight Sun

    Sundown over Yakutsk. The region is rich in natural resources, and China is in talks to enter a Siberian oil project run by Rosneft OJSC for as much as $730 million.