Growing up in -60C


Breaking

Ayal lays down in the snow on the heights of Verkhoyansk while waiting for his mother and some of her friends to come up the hill. The smoke coming out of the coal power stations of the village can be seen in the background.Image copyright Brice Portolano

Fifteen-year-old Ayal is the last of his siblings still living with his mother in the small village of Verkhoyansk, in the east of Russia.

In a few months, he plans to follow his four brothers and sisters to study in the city of Yakutsk, more than 600km (373 miles) away from his hometown.

Although Verkhoyansk has a 3G antenna, meaning the teenagers can share their lives on Instagram and discover the world more easily, it its increasingly common for them to leave for the bigger cities.

Photographer Brice Portolano documented Ayal as he waits to depart, splitting his time between school, his computer, and on solitary walks through the frosty landscape of his village.

Ayal’s mother.Image copyright Brice Portolano
Stroganina is a local delicacy of Northern Siberia which Ayal particularly enjoys. Thin slices of frozen fish are cut with a knife. They are then eaten raw and frozen as an appetizer, served with a bowl of salt and pepper.Image copyright Brice Portolano

Divorced, Ayal’s mother raised her five children on her own.

On the floor of the house sits one of Ayal’s favourite meals – the local delicacy of Stroganina. Thin slices of frozen fish are cut with a knife. They are then eaten raw and frozen as an appetizer, served with a bowl of salt and pepper.

Verkhoyansk fights over the title of the coldest village in the world with Oymyakon, an area to the south-east of the town.

However, it holds the Guinness World Record for the greatest temperature range on Earth, from -67.8C in winter to 37.3C in summer.

A man walks in the village at sunrise. The climatic factor is here omnipresent: in February 1892, the lowest temperature in the world (Antarctica not included) was recorded in Verkhoyansk. And if the village is fighting over the title of the coldest village in the world with Oymyakon, it nevertheless holds the record of the greatest temperature range on Earth: 105°C (189°F) with -67,8°C in winter and 37,3°C in summer.Image copyright Brice Portolano
To ensure the village’s water consumption, men cut blocks of ice into the river and deliver them to the inhabitants. Each house has its own stock of water stored outside in stacks of ice blocks.Image copyright Brice Portolano
Ayal carries a block of ice that will be melted inside his house. Running water, which transits at very high temperatures to prevent the pipes from freezing, is not drinkable.Image copyright Brice Portolano

Blocks of ice are cut from the river and delivered to villagers for water.

Each house has its own stock of water stored outside in stacks of ice blocks.

The blocks are then melted inside the house.

Running water, which moves at very high temperatures to prevent the pipes from freezing, is not drinkable.

Temperatures are so low that some details of daily life take another dimension here:

  • batteries last only a few minutes
  • pen ink freezes before writing
  • it becomes dangerous to wear metal glasses

The locals also let their cars run all day, afraid they might not restart until spring.

Armed with thick fur and a layer of fat grown during the autumn, the horses and the dogs of the village spend the winter outside in these freezing temperatures.

The yakut horse is small and resistant, little domesticated and raised mainly for meat.

It holds a great place in the life, economy and spirituality of the Siberians.

A horse walks alone at the edge of the village. The Yakut horse is a very rustic breed that forms the most northerly of horse breeds. Small and resistant, little domesticated, it supports the great thermal amplitudes of Yakutia by accumulating fat in autumn. This versatile pony is mainly raised for meat and holds a great place in the life, economy and spirituality of the Siberians. The inhabitants of Yakutia have no taboos concerning horse meat: breeding for this purpose is their main activity and represents in some villages up to 40% of the meat consumed.Image copyright Brice Portolano
Ayal throws boiling water that instantly turns into steam. Temperatures are so low that some details of daily life take another dimension here: batteries only last a few minutes, pen ink freezes before one can write and it becomes dangerous to wear metal glasses. The locals also let their cars run all day, afraid it might not restart until spring.Image copyright Brice Portolano
Three horses cross one of the main streets. Armed with thick fur and a layer of fat grown during the autumn, the horses and the dogs of the village spend the winter outside as temperatures often reach -50°C (-58°F).Image copyright Brice Portolano

Lost in his own thoughts, Ayal often takes walks through the streets of the village.

Alone, or accompanied by the dog of the neighbour, with whom he has become friends, he likes to think about how his life will be when he moves to the city.

He wants to become an actor or a writer when he grows up.

He also explores abandoned buildings, such as the one below which used to belong to an insurance company.

Many buildings lie empty.

Today, 1,131 people live in the village of Verkhoyansk – about half the number that lived there 15 years ago.

Ayal’s breathing froze around his face. Lost in his own thoughts, the young man often take walks through the streets of the village before being brought back to reality by the icy temperatures. Alone or accompanied by the dog of the neighbor with whom he has become friends, Ayal likes to think about what his life will be when he’ll move to the city. He wants to become an actor or a writer when he grows up.Image copyright Brice Portolano
A dog keeps the entrance of the stables in a village farm. The dairy industry has become an important economic activity since the closure of the tin mine.Image copyright Brice Portolano
Ayal comes out through the broken window of an abandoned building after exploring it. It used to belong to an insurance company. Today, Verkhoyansk 1,131 inhabitants live in the village against twice that number 15 years ago.Image copyright Brice Portolano

In their spare time, Ayal and his neighbour play video games downloaded by his brothers in town.

They are fans of the game Undertale, in which players control a child who has fallen into the Underground, a large secluded region underneath the surface of the Earth.

His siblings visit him once a year, for the summer solstice, a time at which a big gathering is organised.

Airline tickets are particularly expensive in the region, and it costs hundreds of pounds for a round trip.

Antonov AN-24 planes from the Soviet era are still used to connect the region of Verkhoyansk to Yakutsk.

Difficult climatic conditions sometimes make navigation dangerous, and the airline owning the planes has had six crashes and major incidents since 2003.

Ayal and his neighbour play video games downloaded by his brothers in town. The young man is a fan of the game “Undertale” to which he sometimes identify, a famous video game in which players control a human child who has fallen into the Underground, a large secluded region underneath the surface of the Earth, separated by a magic barrier.Image copyright Brice Portolano
Ayal stands up in the back of a snowmobile. His four brothers and sisters live in Yakutsk and visit him once a year for the summer solstice, a time at which a big gathering is organized and people from all Yakutia travel to Verkhoyansk. Airline tickets are particularly expensive in the region and it costs about 500€ for a round trip ticket. In a few months, Ayal will finally leave his village to study in Yakutsk.Image copyright Brice Portolano
The Verkhoyansk mountain range is 2389 meters high (7800 ft). Three Antonov AN-24 planes from the Soviet era are still used to connect the region of Verkhoyansk to Yakutsk. Difficult climatic conditions sometimes make navigation dangerous and the airline owning the planes has had 6 crashes and major incidents since 2003.Image copyright Brice Portolano
View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-41914876

All images copyright Brice Portolano.

In the same category are

Women advised to sleep on side to help prevent stillbirth Image copyright Science Photo Library Women are being advised to sleep on their side in the last three months of pregnancy to help prevent stillbirt...
New portraits released for Queen’s platinum anniversary Image copyright MATT HOLYOAK/CAMERA PRESS Image caption Winston Churchill decribed the royal couple's wedding in 1947 as 'a flash of colour on the ...
Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe vows to stay on despite army pressure Zimbabwe's embattled leader Robert Mugabe has vowed to stay in power for several weeks, despite intensifying pressure on him to stand down. In a liv...
‘No others involved’ in Gaia Pope’s death Image copyright Gaia Pope Image caption Gaia Pope was last seen in Swanage on 7 November There were no injuries to suggest "any other person was i...
Ofsted inspectors to quiz girls in hijabs Image copyright Getty Images Inspectors will question girls who wear hijabs in primary school to find out why they do so, head of Ofsted Amanda Spie...
Friend’s ‘premonition’ before Daniel Hearty’s fatal race Image caption Daniel Hegarty was flung into barriers during lap six and suffered fatal injuries A friend of a motorcyclist killed in a crash at th...

Dont forget to “Like” us on Facebook


Need something to share, visit our sister site for the

‘News in the last 30 days”

in a clear concise package ….

 

If you are an artist or interested in art, visit our art website and read about todays artscene and browse some of our artist profiles

 

Comment on this story