What really happened at Dyatlov Pass?

22 Mar

In terms of unexplained incidents throughout history, the ‘Dyatlov Pass Incident’ is probably one of the scariest. To this day, no one is entirely sure exactly what happened that fateful night, but there are a few theories. So, for those who haven’t heard of it, what exactly was the Dyatlov Pass Incident?

In February 1959, ten Russian ski hikers, most of them university students, decided to trek across the northern Ural Mountains together. They were led by Igor Dyatlov (the mountain pass in question is now named after him). One of the hikers had to return home due to illness, and it was lucky that he did, because he would be the only group member to make it home alive. The group was expected to make contact with their sports club once they had returned to Vizhai, a far-north Russian town. When nothing was heard from them for an extended period of time, friends and relatives began to worry, and a rescue operation consisting of students and teachers was dispatched. Not long after that, the police and military became involved. On February 26th, the hiker’s tent was discovered on the eastern shoulder of a mountain, now ominously known as Kholat Syakhl (Mountain of the Dead).

The hiker's tent as it appeared on the day it was found - 26th February, 1959

The hiker’s tent as it appeared on the day it was found – 26th February, 1959

The tent appeared to have been cut open from the inside, and all the hiker’s belongings were still in it, including their shoes. This probably meant that something had caused them to flee in the middle of the night, without even stopping to put their footwear on despite the intense cold. Footprints, made by sets of both barefoot and sock-clad feet were found, and these footprints headed down the mountain to the other side of the pass, where there was a forested area. Unfortunately, after a short distance the footprint trail was covered in too much snow to be of any more use.

On the edge of the forest, the rescue operation found evidence of a campfire, along with the bodies of two of the hikers. They were barefoot and clad in only their underwear. Not far from these bodies, three more bodies were found, and all looked as if they had been heading back towards the camp. The other four hiker’s bodies were not found for several more weeks, as they were buried under a few metres of snow in a nearby ravine. They were dressed in more clothes than the others, and it looked like they had taken clothes from the previous five after they had died, in an attempt to keep themselves warm.

Medical inquests found that six of the hikers had died of hypothermia, and the other three had sustained fatal injuries; one had a crushed skull and the other two had chest fractures. The chest fractures were said to have been caused by some kind of massive pressure, akin to the force generated by a car accident. Strangely, one of them was also missing a tongue. Whilst it was initially suspected that they may have been killed by local indigenous Mansi people, there was no evidence of any other people having been in the area at the time. Along with this, the medical report claimed that humans couldn’t possibly cause the kind of damage seen on the victims, stating instead that the hikers had died from a ‘compelling natural force’.

There were other more controversial claims about the case:

1.)    Apparently, forensic tests also showed high levels of radioactive contamination on the hiker’s clothing.

2.)    An attendee at the hiker’s funerals stated that their skin seemed to have a ‘deep tan’

3.)    Some people who had also been hiking in the area came forward to claim that on the night that the incident occurred, they saw orange glowing spheres in the sky (later found to be missile launches)

4.)    Others claimed that there was a big military accident cover-up going on, as evidenced by the large amount of scrap metal in the area.

5.)    The reports on the incident were allegedly hidden by the government and revealed only in the 1990’s, with parts still hidden.

These more controversial claims have generally been dismissed; however, the actual cause of the incident is still unknown. Many people have posited the theory that an avalanche was responsible. This makes a lot of sense; the hikers may have been awoken by the sound of an approaching avalanche, cut the tent open and ran as fast as they could, not even bothering to take shoes or clothes with them in their hurry to escape. Being hit by an avalanche could also explain the massive force exerted on the three hikers who sustained fatal physical injuries, and even the missing tongue. However, an avalanche would probably have covered the footprints leading away from the tent, but they were still highly visible. There was also no avalanche damage seen in the area.


Avalanche – Courtesy of Scientif38

Thus, no one is entirely sure what happened to these poor hikers. I think that what may have occurred is this: they were all asleep, and awoken by the sound of the missile launches or perhaps a plane passing overhead. Sleepily mistaking the sound for the booming of an impending avalanche, they cut the tent open and raced away as quickly as they could. Once they realized that there was no avalanche, they started to make their way back to their camp, but by this stage six had perished from hypothermia due to the exposure to the freezing elements. This explains why three of the bodies were found in various stages of making their way back to the tent. The other four took their clothes to keep warm, and ended up falling into the ravine that they were later found in. The heavy fall could explain the bodily trauma. As for the missing tongue, it’s possible that an animal could have scavenged it, especially seeing as the bodies were lying in the open for quite some time before being discovered.

Of course, this is just my speculation. For all I know, some other terrifying ‘compelling force’ may have scared the hikers into running away in the middle of the night, and this ‘force’ may have been responsible for the massive trauma found on three of the bodies.

So, did something sinister cause this incident, or is there a logical explanation? Anyone with their own ideas or theories is welcome to comment below. For more information and some (quite gruesome) photos associated with the incident, check out http://www.ermaktravel.com/Europe/Russia/Cholat-%20Syachil/Kholat%20Syakhl.htm

4 Responses to “What really happened at Dyatlov Pass?”

  1. Edward Buchanan July 31, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Have you seen the trailer for the movie based on the true events of the Dyatlov Pass Incident? It looks pretty interesting – and of course creepy!


  2. Diane Taylor December 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    I have thought of the unfortunate and unexplained death of these students for some time and as Spock stated in Star Trek – quoted from Sherlock Holmes “… when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth…”
    I originally thought that it may have been the Russian army with concussion bombs that were dropped on them by accident.
    The army had used this location for secret tests.
    The army secretly arrived at the crime scene 1 week before the rescuers found the bodies.
    This could answer a few of the mysteries but not all!
    Why their tent was on the side of the mountain and not logically down at the tree line for shelter and fire wood?
    The army could have moved the tent up the mountain to change the crime scene.
    Why there was radioactive material on some of the clothing and why were they not wearing any protective clothes for the harsh climate?
    The army could have changed their clothes and confiscated clothing which showed being radioactive.
    I believe there is only one explanation that holds up to all facets of this case!
    Yeti or Abominable Snow Man encounter!
    Why would anyone set up camp on the side of the mountain when there was a forested shelter a short distance down the mountain?
    On research I found that the small tent used was not their main tent – they had left their 2 big tents at a base camp and were using this very small tent for an excursion.
    What was their purpose for climbing the Ural mountain range?
    I googled Russian news broadcast for 1958 and there was an interesting account of Yeti encounters on this range. That year a number of local Mansi tribe people disappeared.
    After this investigation the Russian Government banned all further investigation or reporting on the Yeti with threats of incarceration.
    These students were acting as investigating reporters and photographers and had to have a cover to conceal their true purpose.
    The one person they added to their close group was a guide familiar with this territory. A note recorded in their diary was that “From now on we know that the snow men exist”.
    Although they used guns to protect themselves in this wilderness terrain for previous trips (pictures show), they did not carry them this time in case they were stopped and questioned.
    Whatever attacked them in their tent did not bite or claw but had extreme power to crush
    A similar attack at Yale BC in the 1850 by some gold miners who claimed to have captured a baby Sasquatch and in Washington State of an attack: http://www.bigfootlives.com/html/ape_canyon.html This could explain why they had to cut themselves out of their tent and flee with just night wear.
    Case Scenario
    Some of the first out of the tent ran down the mountain to the forest and climbed a tree to avoid attack
    The report claimed they had climbed the tree to observe if their tent was still there to return to for their survival gear.
    The problem with this was that it was close to 11:00 pm winter in Russia.
    I googled if there was a full moon that night and there was not, so it would have been pitch dark.
    The only reason would be to try and elude a predator.
    Sasquatch have been stated that they can climb trees.
    One of the students was found a few hundred feet from the tree still clutching a branch as if he had been dragged down from the tree.
    The first thing they did after some of them climbed the tree was to build a fire thinking this would alert the others to their location and keep any predators away.
    Unfortunately the Yeti are more intelligent and are not afraid of fire and this only notified them to their location.
    One of the students was found with his hands burnt which may have indicated his frantic effort to put the fire out once he was aware of this.
    When the rest of the group did arrive at the tree they found their companions dead, they removed what clothing they could to keep warm rather than return to their tent and what they thought was back there.
    The Yeti were waiting for them and pursued them, cornering them at the ravine some short distance away and finished them off.
    One problem with the Yeti theory has been that no foot prints were ever found.
    The explanation for this is it was sometime after the encounter, in winter, in a valley known for wind.
    The Yeti/Sasquatch have a very large bipedal foot, much like a bear paw snow shoe which would leave a very flat shallow print.
    These prints would easily disappear with weather conditions.
    The final explanation may be the hardest to believe and that is why have not any further sightings or findings been made as to their location?
    With all our technologies these mountains and the world in general have become a lot smaller but the Universe is immense and unknown.
    There were unexplained lights in the sky at this location seen by other observers.
    Many strange creatures have been reported all over the world with similar occurrences ( Kentucky Goblin account, Chupacabras, Ogopogo, Lochness Monster, and other such things.
    Many noted encounters with Sasquatch have been reported with similar globe lights seen in the vicinity.
    Could it be that there are time portals throughout the Universe and these creatures accidently pass through them?
    One such occurrence happened in Manila in 1593 where a guard was suddenly transported to Mexico City http://www.psychic101.com/teleportation-learn.html
    All in all strange and unexplained things happen and it is left up to us to ponder what the truth might be.
    Thanks for your ability to have your mind open to care for an explanation for these unfortunate beings!

  3. Ermak Travel (@ErmakTravel1) January 13, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    Why don’t you check out this site? It has photo, original documents, autopsy reports and pictures and more.


  1. Dyatlov Pass Explosive Testing Ground | Clouverse - June 19, 2014

    […] What Really Happened at Dyatlov Pass? […]

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