Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

The Dyatlov Pass Accident

with 72 comments

dyatlov.jpg

Creepiness warning. This is about the Dyatlov Pass Accident, the mysterious deaths of nine young skiers in Russia in 1959. I’d never heard of this until recently, but it was big news in Russia at the time. Then it was covered up, possibly by the KGB, and more or less forgotten about until the collapse of the Soviet Union. That brought out new records and new witnesses, but by no means solved the case. What happened to the nine skiers that long past dark February on the slopes of Kholat-Syakhl mountain?

The basics of the story are simple. Nine experienced cross country skiers went out on a two week cross country ski trek. Actually eight men and two women set out, one of the men got sick and left the trek very early. They set out January 27th 1959. After a few days travel they got delayed or sidetracked by bad weather crossing Dyatlov pass, and set up camp on the slopes of Kholat-Syakhl mountain. This much was reconstructed at the scene and by reading their diaries and developing film found in their cameras (shades of Blair Witch!)

And that was that. They were supposed to return no later than February 12th. When they didn’t return on time, it took awhile to get a search underway. (Being a few days late was normal for a trek like that.) However, as the time went by and there was no sign of them, the search got more and more serious. On February 26th, nearly a month after their departure, their abandoned camp was found. What had happened? They had cut or torn their way out of the tents, and run downhill toward a wooded area some 1.5 kilometres away. They were wearing few if any clothes, and all of them apparently died of hypothermia. What in the name of God would make experienced winter campers flee their tents almost naked and die in the 25-30 C below zero weather?

It gets weirder. While six of them died of hypothermia, three of them had crushing injuries consistent with being struck by a car. One of them was missing her tongue. None of their belongings were gone, and there was no evidence that anyone else had been at the scene. Those are the basic facts. It’s also alleged that Russian military helicopter crews refused to transport the bodies, and that a civilian helicopter was eventually hired by the families for that purpose. Some of the bodies may have been radioactive, and some family members reported the victim’s skin was orange or burned and that all of their hair had turned grey. A group camping to the south of them reported seeing strange orange spheres in the sky over the doomed group the night they died.

And as previously mentioned, the government clamped down on all discussion of the accident. The formal inquest concluded that they had fled their tents because of some “unknown compelling force” and died of hypothermia. All of them fled their tents, the three injured ones were injured after they had fled. The injuries were so severe it was concluded they could not have been inflicted by human beings.

What the hell? I mean, this isn’t some Twilight Zone episode…this really happened. There are a lot of theories, none very convincing. Some have suggested that other humans were involved: local tribesmen, security troops for a secret installation, escaped convicts from a gulag. The local tribesmen are basically pretty mellow, there was no evidence of other people, and all of their possessions were intact. Some sort of secret weapon testing? Normally stuff like that is tested in secure military areas, not out in public. And there’s no evidence of any sort of weapons testing.

An avalanche made them panic and run out in the night? Some sort of weird ultrasound effect drove them into a frenzy? A botched alien abduction? What do you think? I have an idea, but here are more details if the reader wants to come to their own conclusion before reading my brilliant analysis. For a quick overview of the case check out this SF Chronicle article. For a more detailed overview and some pictures, read this article from the MoscowTimes.com. And as always, there’s a wikipedia article.

dyatlov_grave.jpg

I think this can be explained as a case of hypothermia and paradoxical undressing. Basically when people start to die from hypothermia, their brains don’t work right, and they do weird things like get undressed even though it is deadly cold. They had the poor judgement to camp on the windswept side of a mountain in ferocious weather. This was 1959 remember, they may have been well equipped for the time, but basically camping in the open during sub zero weather meant that the wind and cold sucked the heat right out of their bones. And while these were experienced trekkers, they were also college students and may not have had the wisdom of older trekkers. Why did they camp on the mountainside when they could have hiked 1.5 kilometres down into the shelter of the woods? The overconfidence of youth? Possibly the beginning stages of hypothermia were setting in and their judgement was already impaired?

This explains the panicked flight and undressing. Running around in the dark half crazed and running into rocks etc could explain the injuries. A scavenger could explain the missing tongue. Typical Soviet paranoia could explain the secrecy. Details about radioactivity, burned skin, grey hair, and orange spheres aren’t necessarily true. They don’t seem to appear in the original inquest. And remember, the scene wasn’t found until weeks after the deaths, plenty of time for the elements to obscure details and make it look more mysterious than it was. And I can see why the families would want to search for some other explanation, who would want to believe their kids did something really dumb and died naked in the snow as a result? I’m sure more than one group of people has frozen to death in Russia, these things happen.

Still, whatever happened to these lost kids, a sad and curious case. They’d likely be old folks with families and lives today, instead of a few old snapshots posted in the backwaters of the Internet.

For first time readers, welcome to Doug’s Darkworld. This post is one of my most popular posts of all time, if you liked it you might also like The Moorgate Tube Crash Deconstructed , The Sun Became Dark, its Darkness Lasted for Eighteen Months, and Sydney vs. Kormoran. A number of Doug’s Darkworld posts are available in a more organized fashion on the Doug’s Darkworld Annex. I am a professional writer and my commercial site is Doug Stych, Writer-at-Large. Peace.

(The above images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. They are not being used for profit and are central to illustrating the post. They are arguably historically important images. The top is a picture of Yury Yudin, the soul survivor, hugging Lyudmila Dubinina as he leaves the group. Igor Dyatlov, the group’s leader, watches. This picture was recovered from film found at the death site. The second picture is of their grave site. God rest their souls.)

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Written by unitedcats

February 28, 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in History, Paranormal, World

72 Responses

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  1. Never heard of this before. Fascinating! That’s why I love this site. It peaks my interest every day.

    Tim D

    February 28, 2008 at 2:25 pm

  2. Fascinating. Never heard about this before. Thanks for writing about it.

    Your theory of what happened makes sense. But, it doesn’t explain the tongue. I read the Wikipedia article also, BTW.

    Was victim Dubunina’s – the one whose tongue was missing – mouth open? If not, how did the scavenging beasts take it off? Why didn’t they target the bodies of other victims or even, other body parts of Dubunina?

    The rest of your theory makes sense – especially since 2 of the campers tried to make a fire & a few others tried to return to the camp.

    Priya Raju

    February 28, 2008 at 10:17 pm

  3. Ok. Um, sometimes the tongue protrudes after death. It’s not unusual for scavenging animals to grab it, among other protruding parts. I’ll post about the so called “cattle mutilation” cases some days, my research into that showed that nasty things happen to bodies in the wilderness settings. As for why only the tongue of one victim, I dunno, something scared the predator off? I don’t claim that maybe something else may have happened, just that hypothermia and attendant madness is a plausible theory.

    Too bad this was 1959, modern forensic science could have made more of the case. Be interesting to see what a good profiler would say though, I think?

    unitedcats

    February 28, 2008 at 11:10 pm

  4. Interesting bit about the tongue – Makes perfect sense. Yes, we must understand that forensic science must have been primitive then.

    Not to mention the rocks some people found in the vicinity – some people had fractures, maybe because they fell & hit the rocks. Someone used “getting hit by a car” as a metaphor & that stuck. Dubunina may have fallen on a rock & bit her tongue hard. Such things happen.

    People are always seeing “orange spheres” – I saw several once when I was a kid. Only to read the next day about night-time test flights that the Indian Airforce conducted. I couldn’t convince my schoolmates that the spheres were not UFOs, though. People love mysteries & they just hated me for deflating their “belief”.

    Priya Raju

    February 28, 2008 at 11:35 pm

  5. Excuse. I am well familiar with this history. I can tell the following. It is not necessary to put accent on that that there was no only the tongue. It ours in 3 months after death. The snow already thew. Has been found in water. In documents on medical research it is written that there was all person is damaged almost and not just there was no the tongue. This natural condition in such conditions. The attention to the tongue was turned only by journalists and writers of books about this case. They have not told that in documents was exact. Writers very much love sensations

    About “orange spheres” the following is possible to tell. It is the optical phenomenon at start of a space rocket it was far from this place. Started a rocket on distance about 2000 kms.-1500 miles.

    It is very guilty badly I state in English. Itself I live in Russia. All documents read in Russian in the original..

    dr.Vl_Bor

    March 1, 2008 at 4:13 pm

  6. I like your explanation. Has the benefit of parsimony.

    ronz

    March 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

  7. I think an avalanche would be the most reasonable explanation for this.
    1. it would explain the violent injuries to their bodies and organs
    2. an avalanche could easily tear bodies out of nylon tents
    3. the radiation could be “dirty” snow that had fallen prior to the avalanche, or even contaminated them after they died
    4. dirty bolcheviks, haha

    JOsh

    April 9, 2008 at 10:42 am

    • However Josh, that if you look at the pictures of the site, you can tell that it is not an avalanche likely area. The tent itself was not buried under snow.

      Also to disprove the “biting her own tongue” theory, if one was to bite off their own tongue, there would still be some left, that the person can only bite off parts, like the tip or midsection, however the article says that the whole tongue was gone. O.O

      John Jacob

      October 19, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    • An avalanche is kind of hard to believe because all of the campers left the tent on foot before they died. It’s possible that they managed to get out and carry any injured members that couldn’t walk (investigators couldn’t tell if it was eight or nine footprint tracks leading from the tent), but it still doesn’t seem to fit as to what happened after they left the tent, and the fact that an avalanche was unlikely in that area + the tent was not heavily buried.

      Marie

      January 31, 2010 at 9:01 pm

  8. [...] the same spirit as my column on the Dyatlov Pass Accident I thought I’d cover another historical disaster mystery, the 1975 London Moorgate tube crash. [...]

  9. I think that maybe theywere doing something with a radio and something wet wrong with some stuff they were messinging around with and a blast of some sort went off and it burned them(The orange skin and grey hair and it also says that they could of been blind) So they ran out of the tent not knowing where they were going. Thats what I think.

    Ashley

    June 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm

  10. Some of these theories just don’t make sense. First of all, paradoxical undressing just doesn’t fit, because I read that several people had actually ripped/cut clothing off of the already dead victims (what little there was) and tried to cover themselves up just that little bit more. If paradoxical undressing was indeed a factor, why would they have the prescience of mind to then try and utilize this clothing? Also, some of the victims built a fire. If they had paradoxical undressing, they also would not have had the prescience of mind to build a fire to keep warm.

    Along those lines, it is mentioned several times above that they must have been inexperienced to camp in the windswept side of a hill. It has been stated many times, however, on other sites that all of the victims were experienced trekkers. I have read in several places that the group was lost in some sort of snow storm, and decided to camp where they were. There was limited visibility, and they didn’t want to exacerbate the situation and get more lost, so they camped where they were. And they were lost, which means they could have been trying for hours to get to a safer area, only becoming exhausted and giving up. They may not have even known that they were in an area that was any worse than another, and I doubt they could have hiked another 1.5 KM to a better area, seeing as how they were already turned around.

    The other perplexing issue is that the rib cages of several of the victims were crushed, not just a few broken ribs. Crushed. They relate it to being hit by a car at a high velocity to demonstrate to us that there is no way another human could have done this to them, without super strength, heavy weight, or machinery. If the victims had fallen, they would have died instantly, and would have been found in the place they fell, from a high point. This was not the case.

    The avalanche theory makes almost no sense. If an avalanche had in fact ripped the victims from their tent(s) in their sleep, the avalanche would then have covered the campsite, as well as probably all of the victims. This was not the case. The only part of this theory that may make sense would be if they heard an avalanche in the distance, overreacted, and fled, thinking it was closer than it actually was. But why not use the tent flaps? Why rip the tent(s) open from the inside?

    Just two more things, I promise… It may not have been documented that the skin seemed burned and orange, or that their hair was gray, but that doesn’t mean ANYTHING, because their families said that was what they noticed, and why would they lie? It wasn’t a sunburn, or windburn, their skin was said to have been ORANGE and their hair GREY. There is no mistaking that.

    And last: I can’t think of a reason as to why they built a fire from live branches, when, as experienced hikers and skiers, they knew full well to use dried wood, which was lying yards away from them… It has been suggested that they were blinded, and used what they could for a fire. Is there any logical explanation for the possibility of blindness?

    Jenn G.

    August 23, 2008 at 6:30 pm

  11. I found this article, it has a lot of detailed info, more than I have found anywhere else!

    http://www.sptimes.ru/index.php?action_id=2&story_id=25093

    Jenn G.

    August 23, 2008 at 9:21 pm

  12. Well, I will certainly agree that this is still a mystery, and there may very well be an exotic explanation. However, after reading everything I could find on this incident, it still seems like some of the “weird” details didn’t show up in the record until years later, this is always suspicious. And I still think the most likely explanation is hypothermia, panic, and their attendant mental disorientation. I could be wrong though, and I appreciate the link and comments. :)

    unitedcats

    August 23, 2008 at 9:40 pm

  13. Very very good story… makes u wonder… The fact is we’ll never know… but it’s feel so good trying to find out and speculate…

    CAsToReL

    September 9, 2008 at 1:15 am

  14. Very interesting. I’m wondering about the “orange” faces. In one of the accounts, the faces of the dead were tan, not orange, and they were only seen to be discolored at the funerals. Could this have been the result of the undertaker using too much makeup on the bodies? I imagine he/she would have had to use some type of makeup on the bodies, especially if they were very pale from being out in the cold open air for so long.

    Mike

    October 14, 2008 at 3:49 pm

  15. I’ve camped in a tent before near train tracks. I remember the terror I felt when it woke me up in the middle of the night. I didn’t know what it was for a few seconds and I remember thinking that a car or tornado was coming at my tent. I didn’t dash out though. I also knew where my clothes were and I wouldn’t have dashed out without them, even though it was hot. I think these people camped in an area prone to avalanches; yhey didn’t have their clothes organized near them; and I think they panicked. If they had more experience, were better organized, and worked together better, this wouldn’t have happened. I don’t believe the military or ufo scenarios, but even if I did, I would still have expected them to have their clothes on – the exposure killed them. No ufo or rocket forced them to run out into freezing temps. I’ll come back to my own experience, I didn’t dash out of my tent when I heard that terrifying noise (that was a train that was 100 yards from me). I don’t think I’d dash out either if it was a rocket, ufo, or military plane. That’s me, maybe I’m foolish, but I wouldn’t try to make it. I’d stand my ground and get dressed and only leave (fully clothed) if I was 100% certain that something was coming right at me -which it wasn’t in their case. There was zero evidence of military. There is also no evidence of any weapons being tested and that would have been a huge production that everyone who lived 100 of miles away would have known about due to the number of people and support it would have taken to conduct. The coroner and some of those involved in the investigation (and the one surviving member) have mentioned stuff that is only their opinion that has clouded this. The coroner mentioned the amount of force it took to cause the injuries and mentioned a compelling force. That is nonsense. People in positions like that have occasionally made statements that are inaccurate and not true and that’s what I think he did. Think about the misjudgements you see people make everyday and you’ll see how some were made in this case by the coroner and investigators. This was done in the 50s and some of the people investigating may not have been trained well or the way we train people today and they may not have had the experience necessary. Spreading the rumors about ufos and the soviet government being involved only takes the focus off of being safe, organized, and prepared when you are outdoors.

    jim

    December 24, 2008 at 8:17 am

  16. I don’t think that the Paradoxical Undressing explanation works; this would not occur until stage 2/3 of Hypothermia it seems unlikely that you would be able to trek 1.5K in deep snow and then gather wood and make a fire in such an advanced stage of Hypothermia.

    Anyway supposing they were then why would they make a fire? Why would they take the clothing of others? These actions describe someone desperately cold trying to warm-up!

    It seems odd in the investigation that no-one draws the conclusion that the 3 who died of massive head and chest injuries caused by extreme pressure were killed by an avalanche…

    All very curious…

    Cathy

    December 30, 2008 at 8:14 am

  17. Running into rocks?

    Great theory. Obvious a lot of effort and study put into that one.

    Phil

    February 22, 2009 at 2:34 pm

  18. I think I have figured it out, and by accident, as I was warming water in a tea kettle over a gas stove to make tea this evening.

    Lets look at the facts:
    1) They were experienced. This leads me to believe they wouldn’t have taken all of their clothes off due to “paradoxical undressing”. I believe they would have know what that hypothermic warning sign was, so would not have taken their clothes off – for that reason. BUT they did take their cloths off. Why? I believe their clothes were on fire, thus they tore them off. Lets come back to this later.

    2) I was severely cold. -30C. The fire they built in this cold, cold weather would not be too effective, for those SITTING AROUND the fire. Instead, to be exposed to the most heat from the fire, they would have to position themselves ABOVE the fire. I believe they were in a survival mode – and optimized their position above the fire (standing above it, and/or climbing a bit up the tree to get above it. THEN I believe something went wrong where one or more of them got a bit too close and then their clothes caught on fire (or at least their outer clothing – jacket, etc). This explains why these “experienced” hikers took off thier clothes. It may also explain their “deep tanned” skin. It likely explains the greyness of their hair – try burning a few strands of your hair. It curls up and looks greyish.

    4) As for the REASON they left the tent in the first place – I believe they were at the top of a start of an avalanche. Otherwise their tent would have been consumed in the falling snow if they were at the midpoint or bottom of the avalanhe. I believe they felt their tent sliding downward, so paniced and cut themselves out of it in haste.

    Now this is the important part: I watched a couple of avalanche videos on youtube. As the avalanche is starting, then falling in each video, it creates a big mist of snow, like a “fog”, all around. This may explain why some evidence shows they may have been “blinded”. They were, buy this cloud of snow (like a cloud of dust).

    As for the orange sphere that was observed from another group several kilometers away – I believe this “sphere” was from the fire Dyatlov’s group created. Possibly from the many embers that would have sparked into the air from the damp wood. On such a dark night as this, it would still be easily visable from so far away. Also in extremely cold and windy weather, your eyes tear up. This exaggerates any point of light in the distance. Thats what I think of “orange sphere” is just the embers from the fire in the distance (or possibly the clothing of one of the members of the Dyatlov group that caught on fire).

    The missing tounge – probably a scavenger.

    Ashley

    March 9, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    • thats an cool story

      lord nud

      September 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

  19. 1. Suggestion of blindness – it was the middle of the night, you are unable to see your hand in front of your face in true darkness. Their attempt at getting a fire going in the pitch black, -30 degrees (without adequate clothing) and during what is assumed to have been a state of absolute panic is commendable.
    2. Avalanche – probably the most widely excepted explanation and also the most mundane, however the investigators don’t appear to have considered this… Surely this would have been taken into account and judging by the ‘unknown compelling force’ verdict must have been ruled out.
    3. Evacuation of the tents – i should imagine that had one of the skiers awoken in belief of an impending avalanche, a state of panic would ensue and fight/flight response kicks in. Wait for someone to fiddle with the tent zip…. no, with the notion of an avalanche imminent i’d find my way out of that tent with my fecking teeth.
    4. Orange skin/grey hair – sunburn, windburn, exposure, chemicals used by morticians. I should think that it would be no easy task to prepare a body that has been exposed to such harsh conditions for such a time ready for a open casket funeral. These details appear to come from accounts given by those present at the funerals, i.e. family and friends. My understanding of embalming and corpse preservation are limited so i’ll leave that here.
    5. Absent tongue – not uncommon in cases of suffocation for the tongue to be found protruding from the mouth, could have easily frozen and broken off. Scavenger animals seem highly plausible. Altogether the missing tongue doesn’t appear have much discernible relevance to the events leading to their demise.

    I was going to continue with some of the other details but alas my tummy rumbles.

    Take out the Yetis, UFOs and Military weapons testing and your left with a tragic story of 9 young students who died on the side of a mountain due to either inexperience or an avalanche – or a combination of the two. It happens all the time…

    Thomas M

    March 21, 2009 at 2:54 am

  20. That they were involved with the military and the nuclear industry seems to indicate that they may have been doing something that someone from somewhere did not want to be continued?

    We still are only a ‘spark’ away from the nuclear immolation of the mass of humanity by accident or mistake.

    Missing tongue? Was she told to stop working on nuclear materials? Who may have told her to stop doing what she was doing? Did she tongue lash the wrong party?

    Did she refuse to stop her technical work and decided instead to ‘talk back’ to whomever told her to seek Peace instead of furthering the destructive methods of nuclear war?

    For those interested you can read for free some alternate theories here:

    http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/the-politics-of-extraterrestrials/4049293

    May help give a clue to what could be behind this most interesting

    From another post it was reported that the engineer that brought about the Chernobyl catastrophe was named “Anatoly Dyatlov.” Any connection to Igor Dyatlov?

    Patrick Sullivan

    April 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    • What complete BOLLOCKS!

      John Rowley

      March 16, 2012 at 4:04 am

  21. ok i may have just found out about this like 20 min ago, but theres quite a few people on this sayin that these kids died due to inexperience or an avalanche or hypothermia while running rapidly through probley at least a good foot and a half of snow, and bouncing off rocks apperently fast enough to say that the damage to three of the bodies is as if they were in a car crash while they do so. and don’t forget the traces of radioactive energy found on the clothing, too. first of all,the artical i read clearly said it was a group that has experienced outdoorsmen. an avalanche would have crushed trees, destroyed the camp, and no footprints would have been recovered. they clearly would have not had hypothermia in their sleeping bags next to a fire in what used to be a sealed tent, cause to me with the ripped from inside tent and lack of clothing says to me that they had been in bed. they had to get out of there quick, possibly the lights from the reported spheres would have got there attention, not so much to cut the tent and get out, so there must have been another force to scare them out of there, possible noises or shadows cast on the tents. so now imagine a group of nine people needing to get out of this tent bad enough to cut through and not pack clothing with you. what on earth could scare somebody that bad. i can see being scared in a group of 2 or 3 and freaking out, but there were nine of them.have you ever ran bare foot across snow, i made it around my back yard, when i got in my feet burned, due to the cold. i couln’t have been outside for more than 2 minutes and it was probly only minus 15 c outside. they got from to the edge of the woods cause thats where they found the bodies by the fire, (i wonder how they where able to make a fire, but forget there clothes?) the woods were a kilometer and a half away, their feet would have been torturing them by now. then the cold got to them and they died. so what of the fracured sculls and broken bones? and radiation? what i think happend was they were exposed to unknown amounts radioactive meterial from testing in the area when they built there fire, fire melts and evaporats snow and the particals are carryed into the air getting in their lungs, and on their skin and clothes. now i dont understand all the effects of radiation on humans but the stuff they may have inhailed could have effected their brain, and the orange skin and grey hair, mabey they felt like they were burning and with disorentation from the radiation they could have thought it was a good idea to run of in the snow. after there deaths the weight of the snow may have crushed there bones. but this still leaves a lot of unanwserd questions. what about the missing tounge? so basicly either they got freaked right out and ran off to the woods, or the radiation caused a few short curcuts in their brains, and burnt their skin. either that or sombody seen something they shouldn’t have and 1 or 2 go on a murdurus rampage takin the tounge, scaring them to run off and die in either the chase or pursute. but then that dosn’t make add up with the orange skin again. personaly tho, im gonna have to say it was aliens working with the russian yeti to uncover a KGB cover-up that would ultimitly and litteraly blow your freakin mind. ya, i just said that.

    Trent

    April 30, 2009 at 3:55 am

  22. So many interesting and thoughtful comments have been posted about this that I am going to write a follow-up post. I still think the most likely explanation is a combination of youth, panic, and hypothermia … but could be persuaded otherwise.

    unitedcats

    April 30, 2009 at 9:03 am

  23. [...] up this week, Ten Allied Military Blunders, the Dyatlov Pass incident revisited, and a commentary on some of the jingoistic comments people have left on Doug’s [...]

  24. aliens abductions.-

    orlando bosca

    June 15, 2009 at 11:33 am

  25. Some of the reports claimed the chest and head injuries had no evidence of soft-tissue damage, that means the bones were just plain fractured, and the ‘blows’ were of such force, that they believe no human could have administered them. Also, tearing their tents inside from out, trying to escape, this also could be attributed to their mental state, but did they all experience such severe effects of hypothermia at the same time? I think it’s interesting the Russian government is so willing to label it an ‘unknown compelling force’ how come they didn’t blame it on Venus? Cover up seems more likely to me.

    David

    September 22, 2009 at 10:48 am

    • 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?

      skepticon

      October 17, 2009 at 1:13 am

  26. The Aquiziam site talks a lot of sense about this one though it doesn’t mention paradoxical undressing. First of all the debunks the ‘missing tongue’ mystery which was explained fairly early in the 1959 investigation as the action of microflora and fauna which is basically the bacteria in your mouth. Please also bear in mind that it was the oral cavity as well that had been decayed. The Paradoxical undressing part is fascinating but the group still had the sense to build a fire in the forest and someone had climbed a tree to possibly break off more kindling. I think that the team were fairly comfortable in their tent, you have to bear in mind that the the combined body heat of 9 people should not be underestimated. I don’t think that there is anything that can’t be explained by knowing what has happened to a body after it has been in the snow for weeks on end (2 months in the case of the more severely injured skiiers ) The bodies in the ravine showed no indication of superficial damage but they had multiple broken bones. This was obviously caused by falling 14 feet into the ravine then the impaction of the bodies being under 14 feet of snow that had later drifted into it. Another site I browsed about this subject indicates that an investigation in 2008 concludes that the accident had been caused by military testing. This doesn’t give much away but if the team had heard noises that they had mistaken for an avalanche, then that is enough to panic them. Just remember that once they got out the tent it would have possibly been into driving snow and wind with limited visibility so they wouldn’t have been able to ascertain whether it was an avalanche or not. The fact that they were initially lost would come into the equation as well. So, I think it’s case closed on this one. This is a case of ‘death by misadventure’ more than anything else. And need to be laid to rest.

    tom

    January 8, 2010 at 11:10 am

  27. Jenn G. wrote:

    “And last: I can’t think of a reason as to why they built a fire from live branches, when, as experienced hikers and skiers, they knew full well to use dried wood, which was lying yards away from them… It has been suggested that they were blinded, and used what they could for a fire. Is there any logical explanation for the possibility of blindness?”

    They simply could be unable to see the dried wood, as it was dark (night) by then. One more reason could be that live branches are longer, more firm and burns not so fast. If they really were running from some animal/predator (wolf, bear, etc.), they could expect that it will follow them, when it will see the fire. Already burning long branch may be drawn from the fire with better chance to use it against the creature than the short dry branch.

    ts

    June 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm

  28. There are 2 another interesting facts.
    Soviet goverment prohibited tourists to visit this area for 3 years after accident. The second is the fact that a huge amount of pages of investigation are kept in the envelope with sign “top secret”. My friend, historian, tried to get access to full document set but was refused even in year 2010.

    Ivan

    November 21, 2010 at 9:10 am

  29. [...] to address them all properly. Hell, I could write a book on my responses to the comments to the Dyatlov Pass Incident alone, and if someone offers me a pile of money,  maybe I will. Anyhow, I [...]

  30. [...] 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 [...]

  31. For all nine people to suffer the same hypothermia symptoms at the same time and run from their tent in the night is just not plausible. It was also proved at the time that an avalanche was not the cause, as the tent was not knocked over and the skis were still standing in the snow

    kc

    July 17, 2011 at 6:54 am

    • They were all camped on the same hillside in the same freezing wind using the same equipment, why wouldn’t they all develop hypothermia about the same time? Groups have people have frozen to death many times in history, until someone comes up with another answer it’s the most plausible theory I’ve heard. —Doug

      unitedcats

      July 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm

      • Capt Scott and his mates never took their clothes off and have never heard of anyone else doing it.
        Why would they all undress to go to bed when its so cold?. Maybe take their boots off but nothing else.
        If the injured ones had fallen into a ravine, then surely the coroner would have jumped on the explanation.
        I can see no evidence of an Avolanche in the Photos.
        The only other explanation I can see is a Bear attack from an angry bear who was not hungry enough to eat them, maybe they threw their food at it.

        geoff

        May 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

  32. An avalanche did not occur, but it is possible that the group wrongly thought that they heard or felt one. This could be why they ran half naked from their tent and into the storm that night, but it would be very arrogant to think that the investigators back in 1959 did not investigate this possibility also. There was no mention that it could of happening this way in their report. As someone that worked on mountains myself when i was a younger man, i feel that the original investigation team in 1959 were very capable and good at their job and if they don’t know what happened, nobody every will.

    kc

    July 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm

  33. Everyone reacts differently to the cold even under the same conditions. A lot depends on a persons physical condition. A big man will lose more heat over his skin surface than a smaller man or woman. A person that has more fat on their body has more thermal resistance to the cold than a thin person or a person of of a more muscular physique. It would be impossible for all nine people to suffer paradoxical undressing at the exact same time

    kc

    July 18, 2011 at 6:50 am

    • Well, agreed it is a mystery. No witnesses, the scene wasn’t discovered for a month, and forensic science was in its’ infancy. Until there is new information or some amazing advance in forensic science, this event will remain with no definitive solution. That being said, we don’t know they all got hypothermia simultaneously, we know very little or noting about the events of the night they died. However, the idea that they were killed by some combination of panic, hypothermia, and paradoxical undressing can’t be definitely ruled out. When one starts to freeze, one loses the ability to think clearly. They were young, camped on a cold mountainside in the wind, possibly far colder than anything they had experienced before, and I still argue it is possible they were simply killed by the cold. (Um, they might all have consumed alcohol as well, contributing to lack of judgment and hypothermia.) It’s still the best explanation I can come up with, however unlikely it sounds. —Doug

      unitedcats

      July 18, 2011 at 8:19 am

  34. The real mystery is not how they died, but why they left their tent in a storm in the first place. An avalanche was ruled out. Hypothermia paradoxical undressing would explain one person running from the tent but not all nine. Alcohol does not seem to be a factor, as no alcohol containers were found at the site. Mistakenly thinking there was an avalanche is a strong candidate, but why did they not return to the tent straight away instead of making a fire. Even in a storm they should have been able to retrace their steps back up the hill to their tent in only minutes, after all they must have known that they ran down hill to begin with. I did survival training myself many years ago and i understand how easy it is to get lost in the wilderness on a nice fine day not to mention at night in a storm at sub zero conditions, but these people had experience and they had an experienced guide. They must have know that returning to their tent for warm clothes and cover was their only option.They did not do this first and that does not add up.

    kc

    July 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm

  35. doug, I was wondering if you have ever heard of the frederick valentich mystery of 1978. it would be interesting to here your theory on the matter .

    kc

    July 20, 2011 at 8:20 am

    • Interesting case, have heard of it. It ill make a good topic, thanks. —Doug

      unitedcats

      July 20, 2011 at 9:17 am

  36. This incident was caused by UFO. I am 100% sure. A ufo explains the raditation, the high pressure wounds, and the missing tongue .A UFO was seen it the area on Feb 2. This incident is just like cattle mutilations in the States. There are missing tongues, high radatation, and UFO spotted in the area . If the russian military was doing seceret testing then that area would have been off limit to all hikers. And to do testing in the middle of winter on top of a remote mountain ; the chances are next to zero. Also if other people in area then why no other footprints?.The lead investigator said he was sure “the orange spheres seen in the area” were behind the deaths. I agree with him.

    Dan Olson

    December 13, 2011 at 11:13 am

  37. 1. Missing Tongue; all scavenging animals tend to go for the eyes first, rich in protein, easy to get at (through a thin piece of skin) and easy to eat (as opposed to a muscle which would succumb to rigour mortis and therefore would not extend from the mouth). A comment was made that tongues often protrude from the mouth after death – this happens in cases of swelling which would not happen at such temperatures.
    2. Experienced Trekkers/ cross-country skiers would understand the perils of setting up camp beneath snow-laden trees or at the bottom of small gullies. An open-ish area, not on strong incline but close to woodlands would be ideal. This is where their camp was found. These were people who frequented such areas and grew up in such conditions – they had the presence of mind to set up a camp, and it would be a rare occurrence that all would suffer symptoms of hypoxia at the same time on the same night of an extended trip.
    3. Avalanche-escape theory. If someone knew an avalanche was coming, They would not run deeper into a gully to escape it. Furthermore, there is no reason -ever- that anyone camping in -30c temps would be down to their underwear. Clothing stays on in that weather, especially after dark if you’re in a canvas tent.
    4. Hair/skin colour. Hair does not change colour because of cold OR radioactivity. Skin may change colour as it is living tissue with active melanin, and this can happen at an accelerated rate if the person has recently been exposed to radioactivity. HOWEVER this presents as tanning, not orange-ing as several articles suggest.
    Lastly;
    5. Crushing/tissue damage. One would assume that the comparison to a car accident would both refer to the inability of a human to inflict such injuries, and also a basic physics, pounds-per-square-inch comparison. Therefore one can only assume that running into a rock, or even falling on to a rock from an inconsequential height, albeit chest-first, could not deliver such injuries.

    Elizabeth

    December 22, 2011 at 6:02 am

    • 1. This argument assumes a God-like understanding of scavenging animals and their behaviour. We don’t have such, especially in this part of the world. Scavenging animals frequently eat tongues, it’s a reasonable possibility.
      2. Groups of people have suffered hypoxia and engaged in paradoxical undressing. Again, I don’t claim it’s the only explanation, but it is a reasonable possibility.
      3. I agree, I don’t find this a particularly satisfying explanation.
      4. As I am pretty sure I mentioned in the article, the veracity of these details is suspect. And since we don’t know what happened, their probitive value is very limited.
      5. Again, 1950s Russian forensic pathology was at best primitive compared to modern understanding. Unless there is modern analysis that confirms these conclusions, they aren’t definitive.

      I don’t know what happened that night. Maybe some day our forensic science will have advanced to the point where we can re-examine the remaining evidence (the skeletons and the scene,) and come to a provable conclusion. I do maintain that a conventional explanation is possible, sometimes people roll snake eyes, it happens.

      Thanks for your thoughts!
      Doug

      unitedcats

      December 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm

  38. about the radiation – in 56 there was a huge nuclear accident near the Ural. It hasn’t been published until 30 years later.
    Maybe that can be the source of radiation?!
    Not that I believe in most of the stuff written here. Just my 50cent.

    Hinrich Aue

    January 23, 2012 at 5:23 am

    • IIRC, one or two of the trekkers (maybe Kolevatov and Krivonischenko, who were a qualified engineers already) even WORKED on the plant where the accident took place. Note that Ural Polytechnics at the time taught a lot of engineers for the Soviet nuclear program. Of course, the accident happening three years before, they were still students at the time, but they still could be involved in the cleanup. So some of his clothes might still be contaminated — unclear why these weren’t destroyed, but not impossible.

      Khathi

      April 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm

  39. You might get more information on this site, including autopsies, actual diary of the group found in the torn tent and many pictures.
    http://www.ermaktravel.com/Europe/Russia/Cholat-%20Syachil/Kholat%20Syakhl.htm

  40. 1. You forgot to mention that they had years of hiking and camping experience in similar and worse conditions.
    2. Leaving the tent because you cold is probably the dummest thing you could possibly do. Doing it at the same time is impossible. People don’t think the same.
    3. Not all of them were students. Many already graduated or were seniors. Additionally Semen (Alexander) Zolatorov was in his late 30′s. He served in the war and can’t hardly be considered a “college student”.
    4. Only two people showed any signs of undressing. And it was two people (Doroshenko and Krivonidchenko). And this happened AFTER they died. Their clothes were cut from the body and later found on other members. This proves that these guys were fully aware of what they were doing do the last minutes of their lives. They tried to keep themselves warm even if that meant stripping their dead friends from their clothes.

    Paul

    March 13, 2012 at 10:55 pm

  41. The weirdest thing i find about this is the tent and the reason behind leaving the safety of the tent. Also they left the tent by ripping it from the inside still in socks/barefoot or only in one shoe… Like it was already snowing -30c outside so the best thing to do is be in the tent fully clothed and warming up in eveyones body heat. Why would they be sockless and clothless in the first place, maybe From switching from wet gear into dry gear so the must have been startled by something? The avalanche theory is highly unlikely because the investigation photoes of the area is only on a slight slope over a shallow valley… It doesnt take a genious to piece that together. The toung being gone is cetaintly freaky but explainable to a degree. Scavangers but why only the toung? Did it get spooked? Or was it intentialy only wanting the toung? which scavangers, by nature, are not picky. Another thing that gets me thinking is the crushed ribcages, not broken, CRUSHED. There are no high up elevations or cliffs and there is no soft tissue damage. Lets say a bear mauled these individuals, dont ya think that the claws would at least make some tissue damage?! The whole radiation thing is definatley weird but than again this is russia. This is just one of those stories that leave more questions than answers which why its unsolved. It wasnt anything parnormal or a military cover up. Maybe just some bad decions but what was happening that lead to these weird decisions of ripping out your tent going for a stroll in your undies getting crushed and diyin of hypothermia.

    Sean

    March 15, 2012 at 1:05 am

  42. [...] right along, comments continue to be left on my Dyatlov Pass Incident post. And I’ve noticed a common theme. People who want to discredit my hypothesis, or promote [...]

  43. Avalanche is very doubtful reason for scrambling. If so, these hikers would have returned to the campsite as soon as they realized there was no impending avalanche, but instead they remained huddled in fear. Whatever it was that caused them to knife their way out of the tent they must have feared imminent death. Cutting the tent was like cutting an umbilical cord and they must have been thinking imminent death and to ‘get out now, run quickly.’ What was this fearful event that caused them to flee the safety of their camp?

    Assuming they were all in the tent (which is probably the case since they were tired, fed and had to break camp in the morning so a good nights rest was in order) something prompted immediate alert. And what caused the alert? Was it induced by something visual/auditory? If it were visual then it would have to be witnessed by all at the same time, which is doubtful. Perhaps they all heard some incredibly fearful sound that induced an initial state of fear. If so, those nearest the entrance would have gone out to observe and when they did they must have seen something so incredible that unless they acted immediately death was imminent.

    Whatever they were fleeing from caused them to panic and flee in snow a meter deep to a distance of 1.5 KM. That is a long way to run in those conditions, half naked, especially after they had hiked all day and were probably exhausted. There is no doubt they were in great fear of something- a fear so great a choice had to be made instantaneously to stand and die or run far, run fast. It reminds me of the 9-11 victims who jumped to their deaths who instead of burning chose falling- a grim decision one has to make under extraordinary circumstances. This was a mob-induced panic brought on by something we may never know.

    The crushed rib cage, damaged as if it were caused by a terrific car crash cannot be explained by falling down 7 meters to a ravine. That would be highly unusual to have a shattered rib cage at that height. Plus, to land in such a way to shatter ribs is very difficult for one body let alone two.

    The climbing of the tree was probably to view what was going on at the campsite. Whatever abominable, despicable thing out there must have remained and they had no choice but to make a campfire with wet wood. They were desperate to get back to camp but this opposing force, whatever it was rendered it impossible to return.

    According to the reports there were only the foot prints of the party. So it can be assumed that the thing they feared was airborne, that is unless there were other prints that after a few weeks filled in with snow. Of this we will never know.

    Skeptical Pete

    May 4, 2012 at 4:42 am

  44. Just my 2 $: they have found NUDE FOOTSTEPS, going to/fro the camp. If the bodies of those young people were COVERED with at least half foot of snow, it could be that they were ESCAPING from something or someone trying to enter the tent. They succeeded in running away, but eventually the last four could have met the SASQUATCH ( or big snow man) who crushed them, throwing them into the path of a river…..the footprints could ahve been nude and property of the local sasquatch….

    cookaboorra

    June 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm

  45. [...] event weird detail embellishment provide a satisfactory, if not compelling, prosaic explanation. A number of commenters vociferously defend the position that something weird has to be involved. Well, maybe. I even [...]

  46. Just “surfing” and came across this article. I only have a few things to mention and no possible explanations. One is that the tent was canvas, and probably pretty thick canvas from the photos. Anyone here ever slept in a canvas tent? I have, They are heavy and sturdy if they have been properly erected. Two is that I don’t think I could rip a canvas tent wall no matter what the provocation. I would guess they used a knife or very sharp object to do that. If they had time to find a knife and cut the canvas, why didn’t they have time to grab their clothes and go out the door?

    Three is that I have been winter camping and the one thing everyone is told is that you don’t sleep in your clothes. For a number of reasons, but the most important is that your sleeping bag or bedroll will warm up faster if you are not in layers of clothes and your outer layers are probably wet or at least damp. Often, the experienced campers will put their clothes for the next day, (or, if they didn’t bring a change, their dryest layer of clothes in the bottom of their sleeping bag to provide more insulation and get the clothes warmed up for the next morning. It’s all about conserving heat.

    As for the theories, well I like to keep things simple, but I would suspect that there are other things about their equipment ( from 1959, remember), the conditions and their culture that may hold answers.

    Call Me Mom

    July 3, 2012 at 11:42 pm

  47. i have followed this case for some 20 years now and i still have no answer as to what happened. But i think that we can rule out some things for sure. like, Big-foot, Avalanche, UFO, I always wandered how people a few miles away could see a light in the sky around this time, but such was the weather that it was impossible to see more than 3 feet , so how could they see a light in the sky miles away.. I read the autopsy report and the thing that most caught my eye was that at least two of the men showed signs that they were in a fist fight. The only thing that makes sense is that this was a murder and they were set upon while they were asleep in their tent, why they were murdered who knows. But as sherlock holmes would say, ” when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains however improbable must be the truth.

    bull

    August 12, 2012 at 11:07 am

    • dear sir I also have a great interest to yhis story but do you consider something like that signs on trees by mansis -in one pics its present-and no other foot print around the tent and no none object or bullet or tangible wound?I strongly believe to a very uncommon thing in this story and Im not agree with weapon test theory that is dominant theory because their clear aim of traveling that all local government agents were aware of that
      anyway this story remained in my mind in passed two years that i knew about it like you

      drkarbassi

      September 14, 2012 at 1:29 am

    • http://murders.ru/Dyatloff_group_1.html this link is in russian. The author explained the case as a murder by the killers who delibarately wanted to present the case as a misadventure. The killers forced the group to take off most of their clothes threatening them with weapons. It was mentioned that the rescue team found a lot of small items like coins, handkerchief, etc. near the tent. That could be the indication that the killers also forced the group first to empty their pockets and then ordered to leave hoping that all nine would die of hypothermia. Probably during this initial contact the fist fight happened between Slobodin and the killers. The hikers decided to obey thinking that was a robbery. So they left. A part of the group then died indeed. The survivors built up the fire, which was noticed by the killers, who came down to finalize everything. This time the killers were furious and they broke the ribs and even probably tortued the victims. Eventualy they threw the bodies into the ravine hoping that the corpses would decompose by the time they are found, which would confuse the investigators of actual death causes.

      Cabbar

      November 12, 2012 at 3:03 am

  48. i am very surprised by this sad story its the most astonishing real story i confronted yet
    i read almost all of documents about this incident and i believed that what they confronted was very uncommon and weird because their good condition braveness and well experience they could not be panic by something like avalanche or wild animal or MANSI
    all of them were strong and brave to challenge with enemies then it was not natural it was supernatural or paranormal
    remember names of their way and destination in Mansies language:kholat syakhl=dead mountain and otorten=dont go there! not accidental ancient tribes usually knows taboo location and dangerous places and address them with such names to wonder their youngs and childs
    my first coclusion with a simple comparison with cattle mutilation and its similarity is that aliens were their killer why?dont know but last picture that they found on their tent is very astonishing a vague shade of a man with a light in his left hand-may be a torch in front of two burning or light patch -do you see that?
    i think one of them went out of tent probably to urinate when he was urinating like all of us move his torch to a light sound and then he frightened by what he saw ran to their tent with scream then something turned on and ran after him in that time that picture took from inside of tent then all of his comrades ran out and then what you know

    drkarbassi

    September 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm

  49. Two things strike me with this:

    Firstly, how can they/could they (in 1959) tell that the tent was cut from the inside? Is it entirely inconceivable that a) an animal could have torn it from outside, or b) they heard an animal e.g. bear, lynx, wolf etc all of which populate that area, and felt they had to make a hasty getaway?

    Secondly, is how people seem convinced that it was some supernatural force that injured the 3, causing internal injuries but not causing skin damage. Firstly, this is over 50 years ago, so it would be reasonable to assume that medical forensics has progressed since then. If the bodies were found now I would think that different conclusions may be drawn (at least to some degree). Secondly, it was in the region of -25ºC. At this temperature, regardless of how many layers they were wearing, they would probably be feeling the cold and their bodies would be compensating. This would involve peripheral vasoconstriction, causing blood to be diverted away from the peripheries and the skin, and directed towards the core to keep it warm. As a result, surely they would have very few visible injuries because the normal process of bruising wouldn’t occur? A bruise is free blood that has escaped under the skin, but in that temperature it wouldn’t occur as readily, if at all, because of the vasoconstriction. So surely it their injuries are not supernatural, rather the result of the trauma of the fall, and the cold of the environment?

    In terms of the injuries obtained in the ‘fall’, people are going to argue that they’re not normal injuries to get from a fall. I would think that skull fractures can occur due to a fall from almost any height (I know of people who have done so from not more than standing height), and the severity will likely increase with the distance falling.

    The rib fractures are possible from a fall, but perhaps less common in the absence of other injuries e.g. limb fractures. However, hypothermia brings about fascinating reactions in humans, not all of which are predictable. There is the well known ‘paradoxical undressing’ where hypothermic people remove their remaining clothing. There are also lesser known reactions such as ‘terminal burrowing’ where people seem to regress to a form of survival instinct where they hide and die. Hiding away to die is common in many animal species, and appears to be instinctive in some way. I say this, because I was wondering about other primitive reflexes that may appear in hypothermia, but that are less common and/or hard to witness and document. When I read about the rib fractures I had a mental image of someone adopting a sort of starfish posture while falling, which immediately made me think of the Moro reflex. The Moro reflex is seen in newborns up to the age of about 6 months. When the baby feels like it is falling, it reaches out (like a starfish) as if to cling to the mother and protect itself. When primitive reflexes re-appear in adulthood they are often called frontal-release signs, and they can occur in hypothermia. Surely this could explain the unusual injuries obtained by the fallers? I would think the force of the ground hitting someone would be not too different to the force of a car hitting someone, and therefore could cause a similar degree of injury, as was remarked upon at the time.

    Guess who!

    June 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    • This is by far the most interesting post here.

      woody

      December 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

  50. […] 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 […]

  51. Very very good story… makes u wonder… The fact is we’ll never know… but it’s feel so good trying to find out and speculate…

    kelamin keluar nanah

    November 3, 2013 at 10:27 pm

  52. Good movie, based on this incident, then goes paranormal with it.

    Devil’s Pass(The Dyatlov Pass Incident)

    As of 12/26/13 it was on streaming NF.

    Josh V.

    December 26, 2013 at 9:08 am

  53. I have read a lot about this incident and maybe I have an explanation how this could happen:

    - There was no avalanche
    - Two naked bodies were found at the first fireplace. Three with strong injuries in the ravine at a second fireplace and three on the way back to the tent (laying upwards in direction of the tent)

    1. The tent was placed hillside and they had to remove snow in order to place the tent at ground level. At the opposite site of the ripped tent was snow higher than ground level. Snow has often different layers and is not one block of snow. Maybe due the removal of the snow, a layer of upwards laying snow slided into the direction of the tent and felt into the tent. That hasn’t to be a very big layer of snow to injure someone badly.

    2. As this happened some where already in their sleeping bag, some where changing clothes, some were still full dressed. Maybe that layer of snow felt not on all persons inside the tent, maybe only on one side of the tent. That would explain the chest injuries of three of them they were already laying in the tent.

    3. They cutted the hole maybe in order to help the injured out of the tent. Second, the tent has already collapsed and they were not able to fetch their cloth. They found later the tent collapsed. I think it is not that easy to slice that sort of fabric. In a report is mentioned that multiple hits with a knife where needed to puncture that tent fabric in order to get a hole.

    4. Why that hurry and running away? Maybe they were in panic and thought this is the first sign of an avalanche that they expected to follow in a short time? Maybe the snow in the tent made all the cloth wet? Wet cloth is unusable in that harsh conditions. It is often repeated that the temperature was around -30°C, but it was “only” around -15°C that night. But that’s cold enough.

    5. Either the fear of a following avalanche or the insight, that the destroyed and wet tent couldn’t protect them through the night they decided to seek shelter in the nearby wood?

    6. They thought a fire would help them to survive the night but the wind and the wet branches made it impossible to preserve the fire for all nine of them. Some had severe burnings on legs and hands. This could be a result of the problem, that they couldn’t get really warm from the fire and stayed that close that they got this burnings. Maybe one of them climbed up the pine to fetch dry branches from more inside the pine? It has to be considered, that they are in panic, they couldn’t see that much, already a little hypothermic? The first two with less cloth died there already from hypothermia. The left six realized that this spot and this fire won’t rescue them.

    7. Three went deeper into the wood to find a better shelter from wind and maybe more dry branches to start a better fire with less surrounding wind? They decided to start a second fire in the ravine, but that didn’t really work, they were already to hypothermic to act as they wanted. Maybe to weak to preserve the fire? Second, they were strongly injured.

    8. Three of them decided to walk back to the tent, maybe in order to fetch equipment to support the others in the ravine with clothes and an other stuff. But they hadn’t enough energy and were also already hypothermic.

    Cheers, Muc

    Muc

    January 1, 2014 at 12:32 pm

  54. I forgot to mention this page of the Club Climbers St. Petersburg with a lot of sketches and very detailed informations:

    http://www.alpklubspb.ru/ass/dyatlov.htm

    Especially this section is interesting:

    http://www.alpklubspb.ru/ass/dyatlov_12.htm

    Muc

    January 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm

  55. May as well add my theory to the mix. I had read this story a few years ago and recently was reminded of it and my interest was renewed. I read quite a few articles about the incident, including a St Petersburg Times article someone posted. For me the important facts lie in the fact that the footprints disappear after 500m (1000m away from the secondary camp near the trees) and the separation of the group.

    Virtually all of the hikers footprints were visible as having left the tent, with perhaps one being assisted or carried. So my theory is that they heard or felt the start of an avalanche (hence the collapsed tent). They cut their way out and hauled ass to the trees. 5 of them made it to the trees. I think the 4 that were ultimately found in the ravine got separated from the group along the way and swept up in the avalanche. Their injuries would be easily explained by being pushed by a wave of snow through the trees and then down into the ravine, and would explain how they were buried under so much snow. The tongue could have been bitten off in the chaos.

    I think the rest of the group built a fire, but realized that it was not going to be sufficient to keep them going for long. Maybe it was hard to maintain or just too cold to be effective. Two stayed with the fire to keep it going, and three attempted to get supplies from the tent. All 5 ultimately died of exposure/hypothermia. The skull injury could have been a near-miss with the avalanche, a fall from the tree, the chaos of leaving the tent, etc.

    I know some people had their clothes cut off and I haven’t come across enough detail to be able to incorporate that into my theory. I’ve seen other sites that say there weren’t enough signs of an avalanche (swept snow, felled trees, etc) and that the mountain wasn’t conducive to one, so who knows. It’s all a guessing game. Maybe they simply panicked at the prospect of an impending avalanche, ran, and split into three groups. Two stayed with the fire, four went further down and slipped into the ravine, and three went for the tent.

    JB

    January 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    • Almost forgot I read several sources that said the tongue degraded naturally over the 2-3 month period b/c of the flora in her mouth.

      JB

      January 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm

  56. It is always interesting to read what people have to say about this subject. Repeatedly, I find that the time difference from 1959 to present to be a problem for the many Dyatlov Sleuths. Many things are not done the same way and/or made the same way. For instance, the tent. I have run across a site which consistently used “tents”, plural. There were no “tents” on the4 Dyatlov Expedition. There was only one, super long tent shared by all, and a small stove made by Yuri/Georgy Krivonishenko, one of the hikers. Also, the tent was not made of nylon, or any other modern day fabric. Tents then were made of canvas. Canvas does block a lot of cold and wind, repel rain – and because of the peaked roof of the tent (prior to collapse) allowed snow to slide off. It’s very sturdy, too. This tent had two additional benefits. First, it was three layers thick. Second, an original tent had been sewn to a second tent to create one very long tent.

    On the downside, it is very difficult to cut or rip canvas, especially when it is three layers thick. (Just think about the effort required for the hikers to cut/rip through the canvas.)

    Now, with the issue of what collapsed the tent, the slashes on the side of the tent (made by the hikers) could easily have caused the collapse (think about my statement just above), with the seam at the center of the tent contributing to its instability. It is logical that the collapse might further frighten the group. I say “further frightened” because the tent had to have been standing when they started making the cuts, and that means they had to have already been frightened. You can find numerous pictures of the reconstructed tent, and if you look closely, you can see a total of nine cuts, including two long horizontal cuts used to exit the tent. Remember, the cuts were made on the side, not the back of the tent.

    About the missing tongue, so much speculation. I would explain it with the one word that really applies, scavengers. Remember, not all birds fly south for the winter, even in Russia. And in conjunction with this, what about all the missing eyes?? (Found only on bodies that laid face-up, and easy to reach for scavengers.) Again, go look at the pictures out there, not only rescue/recovery photos, but also photos from the hikers’ cameras.

    Just remember, if you’re going to make a decision, let it be an informed decision. And listen to our Russian friend who left us with some tidbits of wisdom about this incident. (Thank you!)

    ME Johnson

    February 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm


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