The City of Yakutsk, 1




harsh territory extremely
stone spring (2) occupy (2)
total area (3) northernmost
satisfy minority experiment
place survive temperature
bathe activity remote (2)
planet deal (2) cold/colder/coldest
decide level (2) take it to a new level
ethnic heatwave take/took/taken
crystal struggle feel/felt/felt
earth minus (2) big/bigger/biggest
warm ordinary immediately
ice turn (2) capital (2)
air one-third throw/threw/thrown
nail hammer freeze/froze/frozen
T-shirt keep (2) adventure
wash shelter snowboard
local extreme come/came/come
half introduce climate (2)
Celsius have to swim/swam/swum
inside so-called build/built/built
invite outside ride/rode/ridden
hole curiosity dive/dove/dived






Welcome to the Far North of Russia. It’s a territory with an extremely harsh climate, which occupies about one-third of Russia’s total area.

During the whole winter, I traveled to the northernmost and remotest part of the country to satisfy my curiosity.

How do people survive in these places?

Why do they go ice-bathing in winter?

Do they struggle in this climate?

Or are they happy to be here?

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Let’s meet an ethnic minority, the Yakuts, who live in the coldest city on the planet, Yakutsk, Russia.

Russian people know how to deal with the cold, but Yakuts take it to a whole new level.

It’s mid-February in Yakutsk — and everyone here keeps talking about the heatwave and that it feels like spring.

Eli: “What’s the temperature now?”
Smartphone App: “It’s currently snowing, and . . .”
Eli: “My phone died. It’s minus thirty-two (-32) today — and it’s the “heatwave” in Yakutsk!

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Yakutsk is the capital of the biggest republic of Russia, Yakutia. It’s the coldest city on the earth with an average winter temperature of minus forty (-40) degrees Celsius.

And here, everything ordinary becomes something special.

Warm water here immediately turns into ice-crystals when you throw it in the air.

Any fruit freezes into stone. You can even hammer an nail with a banana or an apple.

If you don’t have a hammer, you have a banana.

And this is the kind of adventure I had when I decided to wash my T-shirt.

One day I even experienced a temperature of minus fifty-five (-55) degrees Celsius in this winter.

But now, as the so-called “heatwave” come the city, the locals invited me for so many activities, as for them it was a very nice warm day.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Let me introduce you to my half-Russian, half-Yakut friend, Arsenty. He loves winter swimming. But first, he has to build an ice shelter.

Eli, Host: “What kind of temperature is warm for you?
Arsenty, Yakutsk Local: “Minus twenty-five to minus thirty degrees Celsius. This is a nice temperature. You can ride a snowboard. There are more activities outside.”
Eli, Host: “What temperature is cold for you?”
Arsenty, Yakutsk Local: “When I began to ice bathe, I forgot what cold is. Last year it went very well. We were often walrusing (swimming in ice water) in extreme temperatures.”
Eli, Host: “Did you even dive in minus fifty (-50) and minus sixty (-60) temperatures?”
Arsenty, Yakutsk Local: “It was minus fifty-seven.”
Eli Host: “And after diving, do yo warm yourself in this ice-house?”
Arsenty, Yakutsk Local: “This is our experiment this year, because we made a hole in the ice late this year. And we got a lot of ice from there. That’s why we decided to build this shelter.”

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Climate. The Far North of Russia is warm, sunny and tropical. True or false?

Weather, Temperature. Is the Yakutia a small region of Russia? Is Yakutia tiny, small, medium-sized, large or very large?

Seasons, Summer, Winter. Is the presenter from Yakutsk? Does she know everything about Yakutsk?

Spring, Autumn. All the people who live in Yakutsk are Slavs. Is this right or wrong?

Arctic, Tundra. On that day, was there a heatwave of 32 degrees Celsius? Was the host using her smartphone all day long?

Taiga, Boreal Forest. People can go on picnics and eat apples, oranges and bananas. Is this correct or incorrect?

Temperate, Four-Seasons. Is Arsenty a Canadian? Did he go into cold water? What do people do in Yakutsk?
Steppe, Prairie, Semi-Arid. During the winter, is you town, city or region freezing cold, cold, cool, warm or hot?

Mediterranean, Subtropical Dry. What do people do during the winter?

Subtropical Humid. Have you visited a very cold place? Have you visited hot places?

Tropical, Equatorial. What might happen in the future?

Alpine, Mountainous. What could or should people do?

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