Yakutsk - the coldest capital in the world

The city of Yakutsk has the greatest temperature variation in the world of 106C, from -70 to +36 Here thermometers go further below zero degrees Celsius than they go above, and January, the most freezing month, has temperatures averaging -40C! I can't even begin to imagine what temperatures of -40C feel like! Apparently, at -20C the moisture in your nostrils freezes. At minus -30C the air is cold enough to numb any skin left exposed At minus -45C wearing glasses gets tricky and the metal sticks to your cheeks and will tear of chunks of flesh when you try to take them off. Approaching -50C, machinery starts to break, iron rods will snap and the moisture in your breath freezes and produces a crackling noise known as the 'whispering of the stars'. At -50C school is cancelled and the children go out to play. If you stay in places like Yakutsk, for a year, statistically, you will probably spend around 2-3 entire days slipping on snow, but despite all this, children still go out to play.

Yakutsk is not quite the coldest inhabited place in the north however. The Northern Pole of Cold (the place recorded as having the coldest inhabited spot on earth) is actually Oymyakon – a remote village 650km north of Yakutsk. Here temperatures have been recorded as low as -71C, and in the valleys surrounding Oymyakon temperatures can drop even further to -82C.

But it is now summer in Yakutsk, as it was when Miss Marsden arrived. Marsden arrived by the river Lena, having travelled 2000 miles down it by barge - the only time that the river is navigable. As previously explained, we were unable to procure a ride on any boat at all down the Lena and so we reached Yakutsk by road.
As explained, the roads in winter in Yakutia are actually better and quite good, the problem is keeping your car going.In places like Yakutsk, garages must be heated for their cars, so drivers can get them started. One out and about in the cold you can't turn the engine off or you won't get it going again.
'You must keep your vehicle running throughout the entire day until you return home.' One local told me. 'Or some people only use the car in the warmer month and walk or take the bus during winter.'
'If your engine goes off then that's it – someone will have to help or you have to wait until spring to get it started again!'
I previously mentioned that the permafrost caused damage to the roads. Permafrost is soil that is frozen all year round. Permafrost covers 15% of earth's land mass and 65% of Siberia's, but, unlike Russia, most countries avoid building on it.
  Apart from being the coldest capital in the work, Yakutsk is also the largest city in the world built on permafrost. 

Much of the soil in Yakutia is a combination of sand and ice. When frozen it is as hard as concrete. On the edges where the ices begins to melt it is just powdery sand. The warmth from a building melts the ice and leaves powdery sand destroying the stability of the foundations, so all buildings in Yakutsk are build on stilts from 6meters to 25 depending on the size of the building. 

 In Yakutsk one of our first visits was to the permafrost museum.......dressed in woolen padded boots and silvery clothing they provided for our warmth we entered a tunnel dug into the side of a hill, which had once been used for storage but was now filled with ice sculptures.

Above ground temperatures change by the hour, but underground they can only be observed over hundreds of thousands of years. Therefore, at a depth of 4 meters below ground, the temperature is around -7 to minus -8C all year round, regardless of whether it is plus or minus 35C on top.. It felt very cold as we entered from plus the 20C it was on top. I was told however that it feels very warm when its -40C above ground in winter.  

Frozen block of milk .....Marsden described handing blocks of frozen soup and milk handing from the sides of her sledge from which they carved off pieces as needed.

 My favourite thing was the ice luge....I must have gone down this at least 15 times! And boy I went fast ......

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