How to live in the "Pole of Cold"

Photographer Maxim Shemetov spent two weeks in the harsh conditions of the valley Oymyakon in Sakha Republic, in north-eastern Russia. Oymyakon is known as one of the "cold pole" of the Earth.

In 1933 there was recorded the lowest temperature in the northern hemisphere since the beginning of the twentieth century - 67, 8 degrees below zero. For this and a number of other parameters Oimyakon Valley is the most inhospitable places on the planet, home to a permanent population.

Maxim Shemetov writes, "loses all orientation when faced with white shroud that enveloped the Siberian city of Yakutsk in the middle of January. Just hanging over the road pipelines and traffic lights help you to determine the path. Covered with frosty mist city seems frozen and sleepy. On the street minus 48 degrees Celsius.

25 photos, reportage photographer Reuters

People drink in UAZ, Ytyk-Kyuyol, Republic of Sakha, January 19, 2013.






Before the walk I put one layer on top of the second thermal underwear, pants, two sweaters, and special boots. I pull together his hood down jacket so that my eyes are barely visible. I am wearing gloves and go out into the lobby. Now only frozen door separates me from the cold. I feel like an astronaut before the spacewalk.

However, I have no time to freeze - on a street corner waiting for me minibus. Our route lies along the Stalinist roads, which is officially called the federal highway "Kolyma". Locals call it "the road on the bones," as thousands of prisoners of the Gulag during the construction of the road in the middle of the XX century went straight from here to the next world. The road passes by places of interest, which even for the majority of the locals only as "Terra Incognita┬╗.

As we are moving in a northeasterly direction, toward the snowy hills, all the way to the less common signs of life. You can travel 200 kilometers without meeting a single dwelling. Once we got to the village Khandyga disappears mobile communications. Fifty kilometers and we find the last gas station on the way, the last outpost on the edge of a huge man mountain taiga. Only the occasional minibus UAZ ("loaf" as they are called) break the monotony of the endless empty road.

After two days of traveling, we finally got to Oimyakon Valley, "cold pole" of the Earth. In 1933 there was recorded the lowest temperature in the northern hemisphere since the beginning of the twentieth century - 67, 8 degrees below zero.

And yet, there is a school, post office, bank, even runway (even though it is only open in the summer) - all the trappings of a civilized life in the heart of the valley in the village of Tomtor. I could not resist and asked the locals how they live in such extreme conditions. What of Sergei Zverev, a local resident, received in response to anecdote: When Sergei was still a schoolboy, the air temperature dropped to minus 65 C. Lessons were canceled. To celebrate this event, he and his classmates got together to play soccer in the street. Could I get a better answer?

In truth, when the temperature dropped to -55S, a few days after my arrival, I stopped noticing the cold. In the absence of cold air and moist air, the temperature is comparable to the temperature of -25 degrees Celsius in Moscow. I even undressed and fleece jackets for half an hour chopping firewood.

Hard to say what is the main attraction of this place: wonderful people who were able to live and survive in harsh conditions or breathtaking nature.

Life in the cities and settlements of Yakutia is different from life in the big cities of Russia. Here, people live side by side in unimaginable conditions, life here is much more real and harder. When you cut frozen meat, it is like oil. If you see a car, it is usually an SUV. If the machine is frozen and will not start, it is a long time. But the local atmosphere is created not by nature, it created a people - thoughtful, strong and always ready to help a stranger. Logger 45-year-old Alexei Yegorov (left) and 53-year-old Semyon Vinokourov lunch in the cabin on the outskirts of the village UAZ Tomtor, Oimyakon Valley, Republic of Sakha, January 29, 2013.




The dog is resting on the wood, the village Tomtor, Oimyakon Valley, Republic of Sakha, 29 January 2013.




UAZ rushes along the road outside the perimeter of Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, January 20, 2013.




43-year-old Alexander Gubin preparing to dive into the lake Labynkyr, 100 kilometers from Oimyakon, Republic of Sakha, February 1, 2013.




Ships moored on the shore in the vicinity of Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, January 18, 2013



35-year-old Ruslan folds of ice blocks on the outskirts of Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, January 17, 2013.



SUV rushing on the highway, the neighborhood east of the meteorological station, 500 km from Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, January 20, 2013.



Logger 45-year-old Alexei Yegorov (left) and 53-year-old Semyon Vinokourov felled forest on the outskirts of the village Tomtor, Oimyakon Valley, Republic of Sakha, January 29, 2013.



Ice sculptures, composed on the banks of the Lena River, before the feast of Epiphany, suburb of Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, January 17, 2013.



7-year-old Nikolai Vinokurov, and his sister Vera Vinokourov lunch at the home of their grandparents in the village Tomtor, Republic of Sakha, January 21, 2013.



The girl from the village of Oymyakon, Republic of Sakha, January 26, 2013.



Neighborhoods East Weather Station, Republic of Sakha, 20 January 2013.



Electronic display on the building in Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, January 17, 2013. Scoreboard shows humidity, air temperature, time and atmospheric pressure.



Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, February 3, 2013.



The village Tomtor, Oimyakon Valley, Republic of Sakha, January 28, 2013.



Maralayy The settlement, Republic of Sakha, January 19, 2013.



Traffic lights in Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, January 17, 2013.



Windows Tomtor houses in the village, Oimyakon Valley, Republic of Sakha, January 29, 2013.



Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, February 4, 2013.



35-year-old Igor Vinokurov removes the ice with linen thread, the village Oymyakon, Republic of Sakha, January 26, 2013.



Snow-covered house in the village Tomtor, Oimyakon Valley, Republic of Sakha, January 24, 2013.



A pointer to the former site of the meteorological station in the village of Oymyakon, Republic of Sakha, January 26, 2013



Tomtor, Republic of Sakha, January 28, 2013.



Man plunges into the icy waters of the Lena, during baptism, suburb of Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha, January 17, 2013.

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That's all I wanted to say.



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