Friday, Feb 24 2017
All Cities
Choose Your City
'Lake Baikal, where the ice queen cast her spell'
Mike Carter, The Observer, 2009

Highest weather station in Siberia... with a toilet teetering on cliff edge

By Tamara Zubchuk
05 January 2017

Famous for its lonely loo with a view at 2,600 metres - 8,530ft - this meteorological outpost provides essential data for the world.

Kara-Tyurek weather station in the Altai mountains. Picture: Dmitry Chamchiyev

Some 100 kilometres from the nearest large village, and 800 km from the regional capital of Altai republic, Kara-Tyurek meteorological station is vital to the safety of air services across the Siberian land mass including many Western flights linking Europe and the Asian far East.

It's name means Black Heart in the local Altai tongue, and its remote mountain and exposed location is only accessible by rare helicopter visits, or on foot by determined and intrepid summer hikers, or by horseback.

'It is impossible to get to the station by car or cross country vehicles,' said photographer Natalia Nesterenko, a rare guest to this lonely outpost of scientific research.

'You can either walk or ride a horse. In some places the path is very narrow and passes by a steep cliff. 

'The station is elevated, there is a steep cliff on one side of the station, and precipitous descent on the other.'

Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edgeHighest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge
Stunning view over the mountains. Picture: Dmitry Chamchiyev


Only four people work here permanently, two technicians, a senior technician and the head of the station. 

'Life at the station is nearly totally isolated from people,' Natalia explained.

Exact measurement of the weather is the task here, and it goes on day in, day out no matter how extreme the conditions. 

Specificially the hardy meteorologists measure the air and soil temperature, humidity, transparency of the atmosphere, amount of precipitation, presence of solid precipitation, height of snow, air pressure, speed and direction of wind, and the duration of sunlight. 

For sunshine, a heliograph is used. Its glass ball works as a lens that focuses sun rays on a special purple tape that has a mark for each hour. 

If the sun hides behin clouds, the line becomes less evident or totally disappears. 

Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge


Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge


Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge
Famous for its lonely loo with a view at 2,600 metres - 8,530ft - this meteorological outpost provides essential data for the world. Pictures: Dmitry Chamchiyev, Natalia Nesterenko


The coded data is sent out to the regional capital Gorno-Altaisk, then to Novosibirsk, and from here to other large weather stations across Russia. 

Humidity is measured by a hygrograph which uses human hair to detect changes. The more humid the air, the longer the hair. If the air his dry, the hair is shorter. 

This station went into operation in 1939, and its data is invaluable to collecting weather data used, for example, to help pilots crossing the Siberian air space, and to forecast high water in rivers with the spring snow melt.  

Its readings now contribute to analysis of climate change.

'Once a year, in autumn, food supplies are brought in by helicopter,' said Natalia.  

It is the only way to deliver a large amount of cargo to this hard-to-reach outpost with stunning views of the Altai peaks. 

Some ten flights are made at this time of year to stock up, an even firewood is delivered because wood supplies are inaccessible to the scientists due to the steep terrain. 

Video of the station by Dmitry Chamchiyev

Power is obtained from solar panels and a diesel generator. In winter, the station's generator is started in the evening, and that's when life begins - computers and the television can be turned on. 

During the day everyone is busy with household chores, and the meteorologists on top of the Altai world 'have no time to get bored'.

For example, doing the washing here involves collecting snow. Then the wood must be chopped to fire up the banya - or steam sauna - the heat from which is used to melt the snow. 

Water produced from melting snow is poor in acids, making it hard to wash out detergents. So the meteorologists add a drop of lemon acid. 

To collect water for their survival in winter, the meteorologists put snow into big barrels, bringing these indoors for a few days to melt.

In summer, they assiduously collect the the rainwater coming from the roof of their far-flung station. 

Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge


Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge


Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge

Life at the highest meteo station in Siberia. Pictures: Natalia Nesterenko, Dmitry Chamchiyev

But there is one thing this station is famed for: the only toilet here has won awards as the most 'extreme' in the world. 

'The toilet is outdoors and when you enter it, you lose your breath because it is set on the edge of the cliff,' admitted Natalia.

It's said that it takes years for users to sit comfortably on this perilous potty.

Pictures here show the commode in the cold as a helicopter arrives to deliver post and collect the weather data. 

A loo with a view. Pictures: Dmitry ChamchiyevHighest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge


Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge


Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge


Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge


Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge


Highest weather station in Siberia....with a toilet teetering on cliff edge

Comments (6)

wonderful landscape, magnificent, the absolute solitude, greetings from Greece!
timetraveler5000, Greece
26/01/2017 23:01
1
0
Es impresionante la dedicación de las personas que trabajan allí, vivir aislado no es fácil, tienen que sentir pasión por la actividad que hacen en la estación meteorológica. Personas así son las que hacen grande a un país. Los felicito. Mis más profundo respeto y admiración a ustedes!
José Luis González, Caracas, Venezuela.
24/01/2017 18:06
1
0
In 2011 I was there, it is one of the finest toilets I ever used! When you climb behindd the house a little bit higher, you have a beautiful sight on the holy mount Belucha!
Fransje Bik, Netherlands
15/01/2017 01:30
3
0
When you gotta go, you gotta go.
Doc, US
13/01/2017 10:06
4
1
A loo like no other loo...perched on a view like no other view, leaning backwards to heed the call...for the moment it might "Fall"!
Jaker, Dundalk
10/01/2017 00:45
2
1
Interesting - what an amazing place!
William McLean, Copenhagen, Denmark
08/01/2017 19:42
3
1
1

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy

Name

Town/Country

Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory


Features

Business

The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies
EUR60.45USD57.48GBP71.81Other...