Here we have an account of the fascinating Dyatlov Pass incident of February 1959, which came to light for many outside of Russia with the advent of the internet. We discovered the mysterious, and rather disturbing, incident back in 2008 and became rather fascinated with it – what happened to nine young skiers on the Kholat Syakhl mountain in Ural, Russia?
Having been on a normal hiking trip, they all died in bizarre circumstances between the 1st and 2nd February. On 26th February, a search and rescue team found the remains of their camp – an abandoned tent that the occupants had slashed their way out of. Their bodies were eventually found nearby, some severely injured, others with traces of radiation, and one with missing body parts. Quite what happened remains a mystery, but in recent years there have been various investigations to solve various aspects of the case.
Don’t Go There: The Mystery of Dyatlov Pass
Russian journalist Svetlana Oss’ account was published in December 2015 and is one of several books available about the incident. She provides a detailed account with keen insights (she’d published a news piece in the Russian press in 2008 that helped bring the story to the attention of the Western press) – it’s a strong piece of investigative journalism. This one is an Amazon printed book, though, so the quality is a bit poor, but it doesn’t detract from the work involved.
Not surprisingly, many people have latched onto the Dyatlov Pass incident and spread wild rumours of alien encounters, or some illegal Russian testing involving nuclear power. We thoroughly researched the case a decade ago, to the point we considered writing a book about it, and some elements (such as the radiation) are easily explained. But other parts of this story are deeply creepy and peculiar.
What’s clear is this – after their normal holiday hiking through the mountainous region of Ural, one freezing early morning the hikers cut their way out of their tent from the inside. After this, footprints in the snow confirmed they walked (rather than sprinted in a panic – key to the investigation) down to a nearby forested area. There, they lit a fire.
Their bodies were eventually discovered around this area. Some were in various states of undress (such as in their underwear, in what would of been freezing conditions – as six of them died of hypothermia, this could have been a case of paradoxical undressing) and frozen solid. However, three others were only found in May 1959 a short distance from fire. They had fatal injuries – major skull damage and a crushed chest. One woman was missing her tongue.
The quest since 1959 has been to discover what fate befell this group of young people who were (bar one) in their early 20s and having a great time. The mystery is such on April 12, 2018 the remains of one of the hikers was exhumed for further tests. With such confusion surrounding the case, can anyone categorically claim to know what happened? No. But plenty of theories abound.
Due to the vagaries involved, conspiracy theories have festered. Some of the online comments we’ve read come from individuals insistent it was definitely aliens. We believe the above video helps to clarify the incident to a greater extent. Full credit to the excellent YouTube channel LEMMiNO for a well reasoned, logical, and hyperbole free piece of work. The narrator’s notions certainly sound reasonable, but what’s remarkable about the Dyatlov Pass incident is the number of theories that can explain it to a sound degree.
To add to the debate, there are theories such as the group ate poisonous mushrooms and began behaving erratically. Others suggest they thought an avalanche was approaching (this doesn’t explain the relatively calm walk they took down the mountain). Some think they may have been attacked by local people known as Mansi.
For the record, Oss subscribes to the latter. She believes what we’re dealing with here is a murder case – the hikers were attacked and held at gunpoint (and she lays forth a convincing argument to support this) and led away from the area. There was a scuffle (which would explain the scars on some of the hiker’s knuckles), the Mansi covered their tracks and the tent to make the incident look like a natural occurrence, and the hikers were left to fend for themselves at the nearby forrested area.
This is completely different to LEMMiNO’s perfectly reasonable assessment and various other possibilities. Consequently, whilst making for fascinating reading, it does mean this tragedy is unlikely to ever be fully explained. All we know for sure is nine young hikers died one freezing cold February morning in 1959, far from home and with no way to communicate their fate to the wider world.