In Yakutia, Russia’s Far East, workers brave subzero temperatures to perform the demanding task of ‘vymorozka,’ or ‘freezing out,’ on ships in the snow-covered shipyard. Despite being named one of the hardest jobs in the world by locals, the workers themselves see it differently. According to 48-year-old worker Mikhail Klus, dressing appropriately and adjusting to extreme conditions make it bearable. He even compares it to being in a sauna when taking off his cold-weather gear and entering a heated building.
Performing ‘vymorozka’ requires precision and skill. The workers must be cautious not to cut through the ice too quickly and risk sinking into the water below. Twenty-two-year-old Artyom Kovalec admits that at times, 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.
The work can take weeks to complete, with temperatures plummeting as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius (-58 F). The vessels are docked in Yakutsk’s harbor on the banks of the Lena River during summer months when Siberia is alive with economic activity.