Dyatlov Pass Incident

This week, we talk about the unsolved mystery of Dyatlov Pass.

To the east of the Ural mountains, in Yekaterinburg city cemetery, there is a group grave of 9 members from a hiking group who died mysteriously.

Timeline

  • Arrived by train at Ivdel a town at the centre of the northern province of Sverdlovsk Oblast on 25th January 1959.
  • Took a truck ride to Vizhai (last settlement towards the north).
  • Hikers purchased and had loaves of bread when they were in Vizhai to keep energy high.
  • Started trek towards Otorten from Vizhai on 27th January.
  • Yuri Yudin returned on 28th due to health issues.
  • On 31st, the hikers arrived at a highland area and started preparing for their climb. They saved surplus food in a wooded area for their return hike.
  • Snowstorms resulted in hikers being deviated from their intended path and ended up on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl (Dead Mountain).
  • Group decided to camp on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl instead of hiking all the way back into the wooded area about 1.5 km away. It is speculated that the group wanted to practice camping on a mountain slope.
  • Dyatlov had told his sports club that he would send a telegram from Vizhai no later than 12th February and that it might take even longer.
  • It was not until 20th that the relatives of the hikers demanded a search be conducted for the missing hikers.
  • The search party was mobilised and the military also took part in the search. On 26th of February, the search party found the tent that was used by the hikers.
  • The tent was torn from inside and the hikers were missing. All the belongings including warm clothing and shoes were left behind.
  • A set of footprints could be found heading away from the tent towards the woods, but after 500m, the tracks disappeared in the snow.
  • At the edge of the forest, under a Siberian Pine tree, there was a visible sign of a fire that was lit.
  • The first two bodies, Krivonischenko and Doroshenko were found shoeless near the fire site wearing only their underwears.
  • The tree also had visible marks of someone having climbed it, with branches up to 5 metres broken. Someone seems to have climbed the tree to either escape from something or to look at something in distance.
  • Further search in the snow between the camp and the pine tree revealed the bodies of Dyatlov, Kolmogorova and Slobodin. Their poses suggested that they were trying to return to the campsite perhaps for food and warm clothing. They were found at a distance of 300, 480 and 630 metres from the tree respectively.
  • The four remaining hikers were not found until 4th of May under 4 metres of snow around 75 metres away from the pine tree towards the woods. These four happened to be better dressed than others and the ones who died later were wearing the clothes of the ones who had died earlier. A hastily constructed den was found near the bodies.
  • Something happened on the night of 31st - 1st which lead to the death of all the hikers.

Inquiry

  • An inquiry was started into the matter after the first five bodies were found. It was concluded that hypothermia was the reason for the deaths.
  • The finding of the four bodies later presented puzzling details which changed the course of the inquest.
  • Three of the four hikers had serious fatal injuries to the head and chest area.
  • Doctors concluded that the force required to cause a similar injury would be something similar to that of a car hitting a person.
  • Except for Dubinina who was missing her tongue, eyes, parts of lips and a part of the skull, no major external wounds were found on the bodies. It was later claimed that these injuries were a result of her being face down on the water.

Theories

  • The inquest concluded that all the hikers had died of a compelling natural force. The inquiry was stopped in May and all the files sent to secret archives.
  • Mansi: Mansi do not frequently visit this area and the mountain and they were not territorial.
  • Robbery: No valuables were taken from the tent or the hikers
  • Animal attack: No attack marks or animal footprints. This area wasn’t a hunting ground for animals.
  • Avalanche: Most possible explaination but since the
  • Soviet Military Projects: Bomb testing would’ve startled he hikers or caused avalanche. Radioactivity was detected in one of the hikers. Conspiracy theorists state that some of the hikers might have come across a secret military project and would’ve been killed by the military or died when they were pursuide. Interestingly, the bodies were searched for radioactivity which under normal circumstances is not a normal test. This raises further suspicions.
  • Govt. Coverup: Govt wanted the investigation to wrap up quickly. For three years after the incident, the area was closed for genral public.
  • Infrasound Theory: Infrasound causing panic attack.
  • Katabatic Winds: Strong winds blowing down the slope were also claimed to have taken the lives of the hikers.
  • Out of control partying: Excessive partying with alcohol or drugs, causing disorientation amongst the hikers.

Some hikers about 50km south of Dyatlov Pass who were hiking at the same time claim to have seen fireballs in the sky.

More information can be found here: Dyatlovpass.com

Image: unsplash-logoTom Morel