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Creepy stories surface pretty frequently almost everywhere in this world but there are only a few that manage to grab attention and stay fresh through time. The Dyatlov Pass Incident is one such story. What truly sets apart this incident is that the deaths were very real but no one could figure out what really happened. Even today, 56 years later, the mystery remains unsolved. So, what really happened? Let us find out through this list of 36 interesting Dyatlov Pass Incident facts.

Interesting Dyatlov Pass Incident Facts: 1-10

1. The Dyatlov Pass Incident refers to the event in which 9 out of 10 mountain hikers lost their lives on February 2, 1959. The incident happened at night on Kholat Syakhl’s eastern side.

2. Ever since the event, the mountain pass where this tragedy happened has been called as Dyatlov Pass after the name of Igor Dyatlov who was the leader of the group during the hiking expedition.

3. The group wanted to reach the Otorten Mountain which is located 10 kilometers to the north of Dyatlov Pass.

4. The route taken by the hikers was categorized as Class III during February. Class III means ‘MOST DIFFICULT’.

5. The 10 members who embarked on this journey were highly experienced hikers with long ski tour experiences. The group consisted of the following members:

  • Igor Alekseievich Dyatlov
  • Yuri Nikolaievich Doroshenko
  • Lyudmila Alexandrovna Dubinina
  • Yuri Alexeievich Krivonischenko
  • Alexander Sergeievich Kolevatov
  • Zinaida Alekseevna Kolmogorova
  • Rustem Vladimirovich Slobodin
  • Nicolai Vladimirovich Thibeaux-Brignolles
  • Semyon Alexandrovich Zolotariov
  • Yuri Yefimovich Yudin

6. Two out of these 10 members were females and most of them were from Ural Polytechnical Institute.

7. The group started their journey in January and reached Ivdel city by train on January 25. From there they reached Vizhai by a truck on January 27. Vizhai was the last inhabited area to the north of the province Sverdlovsk Oblast.

8. On January 28, Yuri Yefimovich Yudin had to return back because he was feeling sick. The rest of the 9 members continued with their journey.

9. The group arrived at a highland area’s edge on January 31. They prepped up for climbing and in a wooden valley, they stashed some surplus equipment and food with the intention of using the same during their return journey.

10. On February 1st, the group started moving through the pass. They possibly had the intentions of making over to the other side of the pass and camp for the night. However, they ended up losing direction and moved west because terrible weather conditions and near-zero visibility. As they lost direction, they moved up towards Kholat Syakhl (which translates into ‘Dead Mountain’).

Interesting Dyatlov Pass Incident Facts: 11-20

11. The group realized their mistake and halted. Instead of moving back downhill to the forest area, the team decided camp on the slopes of the mountain. Yuri Yefimovich Yudin (the person who returned because of illness) later said that possibly Igor Dyatlov did not want to lose the elevation that the team had achieved.

12. Dyatlov was supposed to telegram the sport club once they returned back from their expedition and reach Vizhai. This was supposed to happen on 12th of February. There was no message from Dyatlov on 12th but no one was much concerned because a few days of delay during such expeditions are pretty normal.

13. On 20th of February, families of the team demanded rescue operation. A rescue team mostly including volunteer teachers and students were sent up by the club head. Soon the militsiya forces and the army go involved in rescue operations with rescue helicopters and planes being sent up.

14. At Kholat Syakhl the rescue team found the badly damaged tents of the team. Investigators told that the tents were torn down from inside. None of the team members were inside the tent but their belongings as well as their shoes were present.

15. The rescue team followed 8 to 9 sets of footprints that were made by people wearing only socks or just a single shoe. The footprints led the investigators directly to the edge of a nearby woods, which was located directly on the opposite side of Dyatlov Pass, nearly 1.5 kilometers from the camp site.

16. In the woods, the footprints led to another 500 meters after which, no footprints were seen. At the edge of the forest however, the rescue team found a large cedar tree, underneath which they saw the remains of a fire along with two dead bodies. The dead bodies were of Yuri Alexeievich Krivonischenko and Yuri Nikolaievich Doroshenko.

17. Both the bodies were found in undergarments and without any shoes. Some of the branches of the cedar tree were also broken at a significant height of 5 meters, suggesting that one of them climbed up.

18. The rescue team looked around and found three more bodies all of them lying between the cedar tree and the camp site. The three bodies found belonged to Igor Alekseievich Dyatlov, Rustem Vladimirovich Slobodin and Zinaida Alekseevna Kolmogorova.

19. These three bodies were found at different distances of 300 meters, 480 meters and 630 meters from the cedar tree. The remaining bodies were not found then. However, the search continued and after more than 2 months of search operation, remaining four bodies were recovered, all buried under 4 meters of snow at a distance of 75 meters from farther inside the woods from the cedar tree. These 4 bodies were recovered on May 4.

20. Before the last 4 bodies were dug out, investigators closed the case stating that it was a simple case of death by hypothermia. A small crack on Slobodin’s skull was noticed but was simply discounted as something not really fatal.

Interesting Dyatlov Pass Incident: 21-30

21. Though the preliminary reports said that the deaths were caused by hypothermia, the recovery of the last 4 corpses brought in new chapters to the case. 3 out of the 4 corpses dug out from underneath the snow showed severe fatal injuries. Corpses of Lyudmila Alexandrovna Dubinina and Semyon Alexandrovich Zolotariov were recovered with severe fractures on chest. Nicolai Vladimirovich Thibeaux-Brignolles had severe fractures on skull.

22. Zolotariov and Thibeaux-Brignolles didn’t have any external injuries at all. This led Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny to conclude that those two skiers were subject to extremely high pressure conditions because the nature of their injuries revealed that such conditions can be created with force equivalent to a high-speed car crash.

23. The most disturbing of all was the body of Dubinina. Not only were the bones of her chest fractured but also her eyes, her tongue, a part of her skull, parts of her facial tissue and some part of her lips were completely missing. Her hands showed extensive skin maceration.

24. It is said that the body of Dubinina was found face down in a small stream running under the snow and the damage seen on her body was possibly cause by natural decaying after she died.

25. Close study of the last 4 corpses led to the proposal of a new theory that the skiers were attacked by indigenous Mansi people who ended up killing the skiers. However, there were no signs of hand-to-hand struggle found anywhere. Only footprints were visible and they did not suggest any kind of combat or struggle.

26. Several theories popped up in attempts to explain what really happened to the skiers. Some suggested that it was an avalanche. According to this theory, the sheer speed of the snow ripped the skiers of their clothes and eventually they died of hypothermia within 15 minutes of exposure to sub-freezing temperatures.

27. The avalanche theory added up that Kolevatov, Zolotariov, Dubinina and Thibeaux-Brignolles were farther away from the camp site during the avalanche but they fell off into the ravine which caused such injuries.

28. The avalanche theory did have some credence but was eventually discarded because the rescue team not only found footprints leading back to the tents but also, there were no signs of avalanche damage to the footprints.

29. Other theory says that the deaths were caused by parachute mines which were tested by Russian military in that area. These mines explode a couple of meters above the ground and cause internal fatal damage to anyone nearby without causing any significant external injuries. There were also reports of glowing orbs seen in sky in nearby areas, which is in accordance with the parachute mines theory.

30. Once the parachute mine theory was in place, people started saying that government tried to cover it up by removing the bodies and placing them around. Some say that the photographs of the campsite reveals that tents were incorrectly erected, which was definitely not a work of the experienced hikers in the group.

Interesting Dyatlov Pass Incident Facts: 31-36

31. Another outrageous theory was that of Kármán vortex street. According to the theory, the blowing wind around Holatchahl Mountain lead to the formation of Kármán vortex street, which released intense infrasounds, which in turn caused such severe internal damage. This theory however did gain enough popularity.

32. Some of the researchers later claimed that several facts were suppressed by the officials. One of such outlandish claims was that some of the clothes recovered during the rescue operation were tested to be highly radioactive.

33. Another fact was that a good amount of scrap metal was also found in the area, which indicated secret military activities in that region.

34. Yet another claim was that a separate hikers’ group was present 50 kilometers to the south of Dyatlov Pass. Those hikers reportedly saw orange spheres in sky at night to the north of the location of the incident. While this may adhere to the parachute mines theory, the weird part was that similar orbs were also seen in Ivdel and surrounding areas for one month straight from February to March. It is said that there were many independent witnesses including the military and the meteorology service. Guess what? This was alien abduction and torture theory!

35. Yuri Kuntsevich (who was at that time 12 years old) who later became head of Yekaterinburg-based Dyatlov Foundation is said to have attended the funerals of all dead hikers and he saw ‘deep brown tan’ on the skins of the victims. No explanation was given for the tan.

36. Finally, the last camp that the group had set up before the incident sat directly between Baikonur Cosmodrome and Chyornaya Guba, Novaya Zemlya archipelago. Baikonur Cosmodrome was the site where several R-7 test launches took place and Chyornaya Guba, Novaya Zemlya archipelago was Soviet Union’s nuclear testing ground.

Some questions that intensify the mystery of Dyatlov Pass Incident:

  • Some bodies were found 4 meters under snow but the footprints were visible. How is that possible?
  • Hypothermia causes hallucinations and disorientation. If so, how come some of the members act rationally and build a fire under the cedar tree?
  • 4 of the hikers fell into a ravine. How deep was it?
  • Some clothes were radioactive. What kind of radiation are we talking about? How deep was the radiation penetration? Did the radiation manage to penetrate the body?
  • One had severe skull injuries. What kind of injury are we talking about? Pressure injury or impact injury?
  • Did aircraft (in accordance with the parachute mines theory) fly on that particular night?

What really happened there on that unfortunate night of February 2, 1959? How did those experienced hikers die? These are the two questions that will probably never be answered. Theories after theories may be put forward but the dead will never come back to life and narrate the truth. So, whatever we read or whatever stories we hear, there will always be some missing link that will lead us back to the same questions again and again.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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