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Winter Survival Guide to Siberia

Photo by: Maarten Takens

For most of us who live in moderate climates, the moment it dips below zero degrees Celsius we tend to label the weather as “Siberian”. However, when your average winter in Siberia can drop down to temperatures of -40 to 50°C, that’s the equivalent of comparing a Canadian winter with a Spanish summer in terms of a temperature difference. While only the bravest or the most stupid would attempt to travel Siberia in the winter, you’ll need to be prepared if you go to one of the coldest places on Earth so check out Adventure Herald‘s “Winter Survival Guide to Siberia”.

Forget About Wearing Glasses

So you have poor eyesight? You might want to give Siberia a miss. Travelers to Siberia, especially to Yakutsk, the world’s coldest city, are advised to leave the eye wear in the heated hotel room. Once temperatures plummet below -45°C the metal frame will stick to the skin on your cheeks, and any attempt to remove them will result in chunks of flesh being torn off. Not a nice prospect, is it?

Dress Like an Onion

There is no such thing as wearing too many layers in a Siberian winter. Think multiple layers of socks, thermal underwear, leggings under jeans under overalls, wrap yourself in as many layers you can possibly carry. You might feel like you’re in a sauna indoors but your body will thank you for it once you step out the front door, even if you do look like the Michelin Man.

Forget About Ethics – Wear Fur

The fur issue is a tricky one. We’re not telling you to go out and buy a mink coat from a factory farm in China to wear as a fashion statement, but when you’re dealing with inhospitable temperatures in Siberia you might need to pick your survival or simply stay home. Local Siberians even take out mortgages to buy expensive fur coats because nothing else can keep them warm enough to survive the winter. Most of the fur is sourced locally, so if you are dealing with an ethical conundrum, you can always buy from a local hunter and contribute to the local economy rather than fund a fur-for-fashion mill.

Stay in Doors

Even in a million layers and the best fur coat you will still suffer from the cold. Within 5-10 minutes you will feel fatigue, stinging pain on your face and long lasting aches in your fingers and toes. In Yakutsk, locals try to stay in doors during the harshest times of the winter unless they absolutely have to leave the house. In fact, even the most hardcore Siberian will find 20 minutes in the extreme temperatures pushing it.

Seriously, Avoid Walking!

This follows on from the point before – walking around when it’s -50°C is a bad idea. If you’re in a city, get a taxi or go on the heated public transport to avoid the stinging cold as much as possible. If your bus stop is more than 5 minutes away then take a taxi. If you order a taxi, wait for it in doors.

Siberia is a beautiful corner of Russia and merits a visit, but maybe give it a shot when the temperatures are more forgiving. However, if you are determined to experience a true Siberian winter, then wrap up warm and experience it in 5 minute burst to stay safe and healthy!

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