Braving Subzero Temperatures: The Challenging World of ‘Vymorozka’ in Yakutia, Russia’s Far East

Workers at a Siberian shipyard endure harsh subzero temperatures to continue their work.

In the snow-covered shipyard of Yakutia, Russia’s Far East, workers brave subzero temperatures to perform the backbreaking task of ‘vymorozka,’ or ‘freezing out,’ on ships in need of repair. This tedious and demanding work can take weeks to complete, with temperatures plummeting as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius (-58 F).

Despite the locals in Yakutia naming ‘vymorozka’ as one of the hardest jobs in the world, the workers themselves have a different perspective. According to 48-year-old worker Mikhail Klus, dressing appropriately and adjusting to the extreme conditions makes the job bearable. He even likens the feeling of taking off his cold-weather gear and entering a heated building to being in a sauna.

Performing ‘vymorozka’ also requires precision and skill. The workers must be cautious not to cut through the ice too quickly and risk the carved dugout sinking into the water below. While the colder weather results in smoother ice and better working conditions, it can take a toll on some workers. Twenty-two-year-old Artyom Kovalec admits that at times, the extreme cold can lead to negative emotions and a desire to go home, eat, and relax, but he emphasizes the need to push through and maintain composure.

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