In the snow-covered shipyards of Yakutia, Russia’s Far East, workers endure subzero temperatures to perform the grueling 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).
Workers like Mikhail Klus and Artyom Kovalec have honed their skills over years of experience in the extreme conditions. According to Mikhail, dressing appropriately and adjusting to the cold weather make the job bearable. He even compares it to being in a sauna after taking off his cold-weather gear and entering a heated building.
Despite the harsh conditions, performing ‘vymorozka’ requires precision and skill. The workers must be careful not to cut through the ice too quickly and risk sinking into the water below. Twenty-two-year-old Artyom acknowledges that at times, extreme cold can lead to negative emotions and a desire to go home, but he emphasizes the importance of pushing through and maintaining composure.
The harbour of Yakutsk on the banks of the Lena River serves as a vital economic lifeline for Siberia during summer months. Despite the locals naming ‘vymorozka’ as one of the hardest jobs in the world, these workers remain dedicated to their work, knowing that their efforts are essential for keeping Siberia’s economy running smoothly.