Miscellaneous

Dyatlov Pass

Here’s one for you, dear readers… (And, yes, this is all true). Inexplicable behavior. Bizarre facts. Inconclusive evidence. Missing body parts. And not a single clue, almost 50 years later, as to what really happened.

The outline: In 1959, ten Russian cross-country skiers — eight men and two women, led by a man named Igor Dyatlov — headed to the Ural Mountains, to a slope called Kholat Syakhl (Mansi language for “Mountain of the Dead”) for a rugged, wintry trek.

* Igor Dyatlov (Игорь Дятлов), the group’s leader
* Zinaida Kolmogorova (Зинаида Колмогорова)
* Lyudmila Dubinina (Людмила Дубинина)
* Alexander Kolevatov (Александр Колеватов)
* Rustem Slobodin (Рустем Слободин)
* Georgyi Krivonischenko (Георгий Кривонищенко)
* Yuri Doroshenko (Юрий Дорошенко)
* Nicolas Thibeaux-Brignollel (Николай Тибо-Бриньоль)
* Alexander Zolotarev (Александр Золотарев)
* Yuri Yudin (Юрий Юдин)

This is a picture of Igor Dyatlov, 23, for whom the accident and location were named (these photos are from the skiers’ own cameras):

dyatlov pass accident igor dyatlov

The goal of the expedition was to reach Otorten (Отортен), a mountain 10 kilometers north of the site of the accident. This route, at that season, was estimated as “Category III”, the most difficult. However, all members were experienced in long ski tours and mountain expeditions.

The team at the start of their adventure. In good spirits:

dyatlov pass group picture

dyatlov-pass-group

The group arrived by train at Ivdel (Ивдель), a city at the center of the northern province of Sverdlovsk Oblast on January 25. They then took a truck to Vizhai (Вижай) – the last inhabited settlement so far north. They started their march towards Otorten from Vizhai on January 27. The next day, one of the members (Yuri Yudin) was forced to go back because of health problems. The group now consisted of nine people.

This is a picture of Yuri Yudin, the sole survivor, hugging Lyudmila Dubinina as he leaves the group. Igor Dyatlov, the group’s leader, watches:

dyatlov pass yuri yudin

Thanks to diaries and cameras found around their last camp, it is possible to track the group’s route up to the day preceding the accident. On January 31, the group arrived at the edge of a highland area and began to prepare for climbing. In a woody valley they built a storage for surplus food and equipment which would be used for the trip back.

This is a picture of the team at camp:

dyatlov pass camp

The following day (February 1), the group started to move through the pass.

On their way up, they were apparently hit by inclement weather and veered off course and decided to set up camp and wait it out…

All is calm. All is fine and well. They even take pictures of camp, the scenery, each other. The weather is not so bad. They go to sleep.

Then, something happens. In the middle of the night all nine suddenly leap out of their tents as fast as possible, ripping them open from the inside (not even enough time to untie the doors) and race out into the sub-zero temps, without coats or boots or skis, most in their underwear, some even barefoot or with a single sock or boot. It is 30 degrees below zero, Celsius. A few make it as far as a kilometer and a half down the slope. All nine, as you might expect, die.

Below is a picture of the tent as it was found by the search party:

dyatlov pass incident discovered tent

One of the torn open tents:

dyatlov pass incident tents torn

And so the questions begin…

Why did they rush out, unable to even grab a coat or blanket? What came at them? The three-month investigation revealed that five of the trekkers died from simple hypothermia, with no apparent trauma at all, no signs of attack, struggle, no outward injuries of any kind. However, two of the other four apparently suffered massive internal traumas to the chest, like you would if you were hit by a car. One’s skull was crushed. All four of these were found far from the other five. But still, no signs of external injuries.

Not good enough? How about this: One of the women was missing her tongue.

Oh, it gets better. And weirder…

Tests of the few scraps of clothing revealed very high levels of radiation. Evidence found at the campsite indicates the trekkers might have been blinded. Eyewitnesses around the area report seeing “bright flying spheres” in the sky during the same months. And, oh yes, relatives at the funeral swear the skin of their dead loved ones was tanned, tinted dark orange or brown. And their hair had all turned completely gray.

Wait, what?

The final, official explanation as to what caused such bizarre behavior from otherwise well-trained, experienced mountaineers? An “unknown compelling force.” Hmmmm.

Here’s the problem: All the convenient, logical explanations — avalanche, animal attack, secret military nuke test — fail. Russian authorities held a three-month investigation. Rescuers, experts picked through every piece of evidence. There were no signs of natural disaster. If it was an avalanche, why would it stop at the tent, and not carry on past it, covering the footsteps in the process? And why were the bodies buried in the snow not found at the base of a mountain, but deep in the forest? And if it was just an avalanche, why was the area closed off for three years following the event, and all related documents put in a secret Russian archive until 1990? And in case you think the answers were revealed in 1990 – a number of pages were excluded from the files, as was a mysterious “envelope” mentioned in the case materials list. If it was some sort of weird nuclear megablast (which I suppose may tint you orange, but wouldn’t turn your hair gray), what the hell happened to her tongue? Also, the Urals are a very bad and highly unlikely place for a weapons test. The reason is that it would be difficult to predict where the radioactive waste would be carried away by the wind to, and therefore difficult to keep a secret. The northern regions of Russia and the Kazakhstan deserts were the places used for weapons testing at that time…

There were four watches found – all stopped. One on Slobodin, brand “ЗВЕЗДА”(star), showed a time of 8:45; the second on Dyatlov, also a brand”ЗВЕЗДА”(star), showed a time of 5:31; the third and the fourth, brand “ПОБЕДА” (Triumph), both found on Thibeaux-Brignollel, showed times of 8:14 and 8:39, respectively. Interesting how three of the four watches are stopped in a span of thirty minutes between 8:14 and 8:45…

Dyatlov Pass as it appears today (in good weather):

dyatlov pass

Dyatlov Pass Memorial:

dyatlov pass memorial

So, what do you think might have happened?

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30 thoughts on “Dyatlov Pass

  1. that’s incredibly weird – shades of the Mary Celeste – maybe aliens landed – with all the forensic magic they can do these days, you would think that if there was complete access to all the relevant documents, etc. what happened could be figured out – do you have a theory?

  2. Dear “J”

    Facts:

    Veared off course on Feb. 1
    (reason unknown)
    photos show fair weather. camp is set up.

    Something (extreme fear) caused everyone to flee without ANY hesitation. (Fight or Flight responce)

    Signs of Radiation on site.

    Site closed to public for three years.

    Five of the nine were found frozen approx. one Kilometer away in deep woods.

    Four others found near site with injuries; chest impact, crushed scull, missing tongue from one of the female victims.

    Skin on all victims affected.

    Hair on victims turned fully grey.

    signs of flash blindness in victims.

    Victims fleed in all directions to escape.

    Five escaped into the woods, Four did not get away.

    All four wrist watches stopped.
    Three watches between 0815 and 0845. One watch at 0531.

    Investigation results consealed by Russian goverment until 1990. Disclosure of case files in 1990 are edited (incomplete).

    Simple fact is;

    whether the “unknown compelling force” was Aliens, somesort of preditor attact or even human terrorists, the most humorous fact is, even a ” compelling unkown force” had to remove the tongue of the annoying women who would not shut up….. hahahah, hahahah

    We (humans) explore the vast depths of rainforests trapping animals. playing with them in the name of science or hunting them in the name of sport or food source. These species really dont understand the big picture of life and perhaps niether do we…

    DR. Reed

  3. This may not be that interesting, but it was to me. They went to a place named “Mountain of the Dead” Perhaps it wasn’t Aliens.. Maybe it was some sort of dead force that was jealous of the life they held in their fragile human bodies.. maybe it was something else.

    It’s one of those things that will have theory’s until the end of time I think.

    • I have the answer it was a horny/hungry radioactive Yettie! he probably got caught up in one of the tests over in Afghanistan his misses was fried in it while out doing the weekly sheep shop/goat herder chasing session and he was on his way to Russia to give the people in charge a right good seeing to when he came across these unfortunate folks. Popped his head into the tent, said “Hi” he had really bad breath and turned their hair gray. they legged it via the nearest non doorway the Yettie gave chase had his way with a few of them. fancied a bit of tongue for breakfast took that with him. the ones who escaped froze in the woods. simple no?

  4. i heard about this a little while ago from a friend of mine. its really strange, you cant really attriubute this to any sort of natural circumstance like an animal attack or something of that nature.

    i also read somewhere that the trauma to the guys chest’s had much more force than a man good produce with a simple tool from nature like a log or something.

    the most compelling evidence i think is the tounge-ectomy of the girl, the radiation levels and the orbs in the sky. i believe in ufo’s but i apply as much science to sightings and things as possible to explain them.

    in this case i think it is impossible to tie any sort of scientific or rational explanation to it at all. why were they blinded? why in such a hurry? how did they sustain these injuries. to me, this screams some sort of alien intervention

  5. It’s very difficult to give an explanation, or just to give it a sense. Why? When? And, moreover, What??!!

    A very interesting and obscure story.

  6. Couldn’t the blindness of been caused by the snow, I heard somewhere that if you look at the brightness of snow for to long you can suffer from something called snow blindness but im not really sure.

  7. Also 9 people from the mansi tribe had died there before and 9 people in a plane crash also died near where the hikers were found dead.

  8. the only logical answer to me is that some sort of testing went on here (hence the metal debris). other hikers saw strange lights in the area of the pass. maybe this test included something emitting high radiation. the only thing that makes sense to me is that the hikers experience super high radiation and went “a little mad”. perhaps the woman (who was missing her tongue) bit her own tongue off. as for the hikers who suffered cracked skulls….u got me. something strange happened here and the government knew more than than they let on.

    • I know you’re all dying to hear my explanation, so here goes–“something” scared the living crap out of those people in the middle of the night, they panicked for whatever reason, a mad scramble to get out of the crowded tent ensued, the sleeping girl with her tongue hanging out(yes it does happen…I’m told) is violently bumped by said panickers and she bites off her own tongue(ouchie), she starts screaming and bleeding profusely which only adds to the panic, ribs are broken, maybe heads are cracked, the tent is ripped open and the nine of them spill out–including miss tongue-biter-offer–and it’s all “assholes and elbows” down the hill away from…the “unknown compelling force”. So far so good, right? WRONG! This is where it actually gets WEIRD. So they’re all out of, and away from, the tent and the …the “unknown compelling force”, breathing a sigh of relief, starting a fire near some trees, and considering their next move, hopefully one that reunites them with their clothes, shoes and gear, right? WRONG! What do they actually do? Two of them stay put by the trees, while four of them set off IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION from their tent and apparently fall into a 20 foot deep ravine causing severe injuries and eventual death and burial in snow, and three of them apparently decide to start back toward the tent but only make it 400-600 yards before they fall down and die, and get buried in snow.

      Now, everything that happens after the leaving of the tent makes perfect sense–but only if there was something preventing them from returning to the tent to at least get their shoes on, let alone proper fire starting material and warm clothing. The REAL question that needs answering here is: What in God’s name were they so afraid of in the first place, and why did they remain so terrified that they remained at the tree line long enough to make a fire, but never bothered to try to return to the tent until, apparently, it was too late? It wasn’t that they were disoriented–the tent was on a barren slope and must’ve been clearly visible to them even at night, and all they had to do was follow their own footprints back to it. It wasn’t that they were too injured–four of them hiked another half a kilometer or so in the OTHER direction. If they wanted to leave the injured by the trees and retrieve the tent and its contents, why didn’t they hike TOWARD THE TENT? It wasn’t because of “paradoxical undressing” either–the four in the ravine were well-dressed and apparently took clothes from the others to keep themselves warm, not exactly the actions of people suffering from “paradoxical undressing”.

      So what the hell happened?

      • How long did you spend on that joke of a theory? do you enjoy reading up on mysteries and then re-telling the way it happened as if you were there? I got an idea for you, why don’t you go mt.otorten and camp it out, and find out for yourself what actually happened. Maybe just maybe we’ll get some answers.

  9. DR. Reed your such a wankish tool…

    i bet you did a phd just so you could feel important and call yourself DR. and then think your awesome by speculating on human existence.

    your whats wrong with the world today.

    hope you die painfully,

    yours sincerely

    Awesome

  10. The big fact that gets lost in the re-telling of this story is that the bodies weren’t found until weeks later. It’s not like somebody turned their back, then five minutes later all their friends were dead and half naked.

    That makes the missing tongue a lot easier to explain. As disturbing as it may be, the first thing a scavenging animal is going to go for is probably the soft tissue of an open mouth. Laying out in the sun surrounded by white snow for days also accounts for the weird tan.

    The trauma and the destroyed tent points to an avalanche. Their state of undress can be explained by paradoxical undressing, a known behavior of hypothermia victims when their brains start to freeze and malfunction. In other words, it’s the kind of behavior you’d expect from a group of injured avalanche victims wandering around in the middle of the night in the freezing cold.

    What about the radioactivity? Or stranger details that turn up in some accounts, like orange lights in the sky? Well, there’s the fact that none of that stuff turns up in the original documents from the incident, and appears to have been added later by people who just can’t resist making things spookier than they are.

    It’s those later accounts that have stuck in the public memory, because so many of the original reports were destroyed (this was the Cold War-era Soviet Union, which treated casserole recipes as state secrets).

    So none of the details on their own prove anything other than a tragic hiking accident. The conspiracy-loving public widely reject this, too busy lighting their torches and getting their pitchforks to go hunt down an, “unknown compelling force.”

  11. It’s kind of simple. The tent might have been destoryed by wind, or a minor avalanche, which could have startled them. The avalanche could have taken place in many places at once. Maybe it was an animal attack, because of the crushed bones. That would definitely make people run, even just hearing a loud animal would make them rip out of their tents. The blindness was probably caused by the reflection of UV rays off the white snow. This also caused the tanning, many skiers get sunburns from the snow. The gray hair may have been caused by bleaching from the sun, or something else, not sure about that one. The tongue was probably found by some scavenging animal, and eaten. It’s a soft and vulnerable muscle, making it a good food target. The only part which really compels me, are the watches.

  12. According to Cracked.com, this can all be explained:

    First of all, they wern’t found until weeks later so it’s not like all these things happened at once.

    The tongue – thats the first thing a scavanging bird is going to eat.

    The wierd tan – laying out on the snow in direct contact with the sun for days.

    The destroyed tents – An avalanche.

    Their state of undress – paradoxal undressing, which can also explain their injuries.

    Radioactivity burned skin and lights in the sky – was never in the original documents, so must have been added by someone who wanted to make this story more freaky than it already is.

  13. This is really quite close to being a case closed scenario. The aquiziam.com site has done a lot of good work on debunking this event so please link to that if you want good explanations. The case of Ludmilla Dubunina’s tongue and oral cavity being missing can be be put down to the action of oral microflora that had decayed the tissue after death. Since this was ascertained quite early in the post-mortem there is no point in further speculation. The crushing injuries were obviously due to a fall into the 14 ft ravine where 4 of the skiers were eventually found. What is is mysterious is why they ran out the tent in the first place. It couldn’t have been an avalanche since there was no evidence of avalanche reported by the rescue team, also their footprints were visible from 2 weeks after the event. There was no evidence of blast by any kind of weapons, apparently the nearest air force base was 600km away (Sverdlovsk). Also, if they were testing some secret weapon what were they testing it on? Remember that the ski team were lost so they wouldn’t have camped there had things gone according to plan. paradoxical undressing doesn’t make much sense since they tried to keep a fire going in the forest, also the combined body heat of 9 people in a tent would have been quite snug, so my guess is that they were in various states of undress because they were quite comfortable in the tent. On february second 2008, (According to the dbskeptic.com site) an investigation concluded that the “unknown compelling force” that resulted in the deaths was due to military testing. This is quite an admission by the Russians but prompts more questions. What kind of weapons were used since there was no evidence of blast? If it was some kind of psychological weapon such as sound (infrasound) concussion or whatever who were they testing it on? After all, if the military were involved what sort of result were they trying to achieve since there was no test subject, bearing in mind that the ski team were lost and would not have been normally been there? There also seems to have been no follow-up to the testing if any had taken place to ascertain results (what results would there be? it was the victims relatives that prompted the search). If in 2008, 6 rescuers and 30 independent experts concluded that the cause was military testing more needs to come out from that as to how they came to that decision before we can come to any conclusions ourselves.

    • Tom, thank you. That was so well put. Karen, yours also had some very pertinent and interesting points, but my first thought and one that seems to cover most of the more ambiguous “facts” was the same as Jerm’s. Some kind of chemical psychosis whether taken intentionally or by accident could go a long way to finding a theory that fits this mystery. Anything from drugs to fungal infected drinking water could have caused some chemically produced hallucinations. Any thoughts?

  14. What about drugs? I was at a party once where 7 people all took LSD and then everyone scattered and ran off into the woods. They were gone for most of the night, many returned partially or completely naked. If these guys and gals were dropping acid, as any college kid knows is good fun, then one bad trip could have sent them all screaming out in the snow. By the time they got their wits about them most would have frozen and some would be dead from a fall in a ravine.

  15. I don’t get it–you say at the beginning that there is a survivor..and then later you say everyone died? Which was it?

    • There were no survivors. Read the fourth paragraph again:

      “The next day, one of the members (Yuri Yudin) was forced to go back because of health problems.”

      Yuri (or Yury) started out with the group, but turned back before the rest reached Dyatlov Pass. Just below the fourth paragraph is a captioned picture of their separation…

  16. So there’s six things that freak people out about this one:

    1. The no-tongued woman

    2. A mysterious orange tan on the dead bodies

    3. The ripped tents

    4. The hikers’ lack of clothing

    5. The crushing damage done to three of the hikers

    6. The traces of radioactivity

    The big fact that gets lost in the re-telling of this story is that the bodies weren’t found until weeks later. It’s not like somebody turned their back, then five minutes later all their friends were dead and half naked
    That makes the missing tongue a lot easier to explain. As disturbing as it may be, the first thing a scavenging animal is going to go for is probably the soft tissue of an open mouth, especially if it still smelled like the burrito the hiker just ate. Laying out in the sun surrounded by white snow for days also accounts for the weird tan.

    The trauma and the destroyed tent points to an avalanche. Their state of undress can be explained by paradoxical undressing, a known behavior of hypothermia victims when their brains start to freeze and malfunction. In other words, it’s the kind of behavior you’d expect from a group of injured avalanche victims wandering around in the middle of the night in the freezing cold.What about the radioactivity? Or stranger details that turn up in some accounts, like orange lights in the sky? Well, there’s the fact that none of that stuff turns up in the original documents from the incident, and appears to have been added later by people who just can’t resist making things spookier than they are.

    It’s those later accounts that have stuck in the public memory, because so many of the original reports were destroyed (this was the Cold War-era Soviet Union, which treated casserole recipes as state secrets).

    So none of the details on their own prove anything other than a tragic hiking accident. The conspiracy-loving public widely reject this, too busy lighting their torches and getting their pitchforks to go hunt down an, “unknown compelling force.”
    People need to stop looking for UFO’s and Bigfoot and use the gooey stuff between their ears and stop making up fantasy.

    • The crushed bodies were not found below the tents in the direction of a possible avalanche but in a forest. The tents were ripped from the inside out. Two of the non crushed bodies were also found in the edge of the forest, where they are supposed to have managed to light a fire…Footprints were also found at tent level, suggesting the snow level was never higher than the tents. Regardless of the orange lights…They clearly decided to escape asap and not through the front of the tent. The two non crushed survivors thought it better to light a fire in the forest rather than go back to their tent, weird.

  17. @Veritas — The space aliens running the secret world government made you post those lies. Didn’t they……DIDN’T THEY!!!!

  18. What an exciting story! It had the hairs on my neck standing up! I can see how this has all the elements of a great mystery but there’s always a tendency to read more into the details than is there and to make too many speculative connexions. Perhaps if we got busy with Occum’s razor we might comer closer to the truth.
    First, people are too quick to attribute anything that happened in Soviet Russia to the creation of some secret death ray or military experiment. I’m not sure the historical facts can sustain that weight of speculation. From my own experience of expeditions in Scotland I can offer some small input which may have some bearing.
    The radiation levels are one of the most unusual points but bear in mind that some mountains and geological strata are more radioactive than others just as some mountains – such as the Cuillins on Skye – are highly magnetic and will screw up your compass readings. We are constantly subject to tiny doses of background radiation and experience ‘significantly higher’ levels just by taking a long haul flight without feeling any effects, so it may simply be geographical factors that have contributed.
    As to the strange orange tint to the skin, I often return from winter mountain walking with a similar tint to my skin. It’s called a ‘tan’ and is quite unknown to the residents of Glasgow, my home town.
    The watches stopped at a similar time is most likely due to the outside temperature. My father, who is a watchmaker, reckons that in -30 they would simply seize up like any other mechanical equipment.
    Some ‘unknown compelling force’ made the party tear through the tents and scatter in the night. I know from experience that you can look at a situation rationally in the cold light of day but it is a different matter when your lying in a tent in pitch darkness in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t take much to have your imagination working overtime and panic can easily spread. In fact there’s times I’ve lain there calculating how quickly I could slice open the tent wall and make good with my legs.
    So what could cause such panic? A bear perhaps? If it was attracted by food that may be enough to scatter the hikers in a state of undress. Some died of hypothermia – perhaps there was a white out and they couldn’t navigate back to camp. The bear may have chased others and caused the ‘massive chest trauma’. I don’t know what the results of a fatal bear attack look like any more than I know what ‘massive chest trauma’ looks like.
    Finally the missing tongue is an emotive detail but I’d put it down to a post mortem injury from feeding animals. Yummy!
    All in all it’s a great story though and I guess like all the best mysteries – we’ll never know the truth!

    • @ Gordon Richmond – How do you explain the fact that no bear tracks were found, but tracks of the fleeing campers were?

  19. I didn’t read previous comments, but we had on ORT (first national tv channel) program about this story. They told that it was revealed that at the place where they made their camp were some kind internal of radioactive gases that affects mind condition — causes strong desire of sexual intercourse and drives mad at the same time.

  20. UFOs are behind this this incident I know for sure.Its like cattle mutilations with missing tongues, raditation,crushed bones, and UFOs.

  21. Sorry to be a stickler for details, but this detail drastically changes the picture of what happened to these hikers.and I see on far too many (too many!) sites. The problem is with the articles assuming there was more than one tent. There wasn’t. Today, that would be the.case, but not in the 1950’s. Tents in the 1950’s, and camping in general, were not like today. Today, we each have a tent, a personal extension of our sleeping bags. In the 1950’s there were no individual tents. The entire group used only one tent (with male/female sections being divided by using a hung blanket as a partition.) Your label on the tent photo should read “THE tent”, with the tears and cuts made by the expedition members.It isn’t ONE OF the tents, it is THE” ONLY tent. That’s a true fact. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, it really changes the dynamics of the event, and it makes the story even creepier and more mysterious. They were all together in one group, in one tent,when they all panicked.

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