The Strange Case of Dyatlov Pass: What Caused the Mysterious Deaths of Nine Russian Hikers?

The Strange Case of Dyatlov Pass: What Caused the Mysterious Deaths of Nine Russian Hikers?

On the night of February 2nd, 1959, nine Russian hikers (Igor Dyatlov, Zinaida Kolmogorova, Lyudmila Dubinina, Alexander Kolevatov, Rustem Slobodin, Georgyi Krivonischenko, Yuri Doroshenko, Nicolas Thibeauz-Brignollel, and Alexander Zolotarev) died in a bizarre series of events that have continued to leave investigators and paranormal enthusiasts baffled. As the years have passed many have returned to the evidence with the hopes of comprehending exactly what happened that night on the northern side of the Ural Mountains. The Dyatlov Pass incident has gone down in history as being one of the strangest cases yet to be solved, and one that many believe may have a genuine paranormal explanation.

The story begins with a journey from the Russian town of Vizhai to the summit of Otorten Mountain that began on January 27th 1959. The hike consisted of eight men, two women. On the morning of the 28th Yuri Yudin, a member unable to continue the trek due to health problems, headed back to Vizhai, leaving the final count at nine. Those members remaining were experienced mountaineers and skiers and understood that the particular route ahead was estimated as a level three – the most difficult trek. Eerily enough, it was records and pictures found around the sight of their last camp on this pass that helped authorities track the team movement… until the day preceding the event that has made the Dyatlov Pass so infamous.

On January 31st the team arrived in a woody valley, set up camp for the night, and built a storage for food and equipment that would be used during the return trip. Then on February 1st left their camp and began to move through the pass with the hopes of setting up camp on the opposite side. Being a category three trek, the unpredictable weather worsened and the team deviated west towards Kholat Sykhl. There at the slope of the mountain, the group made the decision to stop and set up camp for the night. What really happened to the hikers next is a mystery that has left countless people guessing for years.

It took twenty-four days for the first search mission to get underway, a party that also included Yuri Yudin, the friend that turned back days earlier. After several days of following along the trail, the search party arrived at the Kholat Sykhl pass and were shocked to find the remains of the badly damaged tent. The tent in question had been ripped open not from the outside but from the inside, almost as if the team had been forced to flee in the middle of the night. At the edge of a nearby pine forest, the remains of a small fire were found, along with the first two bodies dressed shoeless and only in underwear. Six hundred and thirty meters from the edge of the forest, where the first two bodies were discovered, three more bodies were found posed in such a way as to suggest that they were attempting to return to the campsite. A medical examination of the first five bodies concluded the death of all five due to hypothermia. But it wasn’t until four months later, when the remaining three bodies were discovered in a stream valley further into the woods, that the story would become much more mysterious.


When the final three bodies were examined by a coroner, it was discovered that all three died not from hypothermia, but from fatal injuries sustained to the body. The first from severe skull damage, and the final two bodies were determined to have died of major chest fractures. Oddly enough, there were no external wounds on any of the bodies, though experts have compared the internal damage to that of a high speed car accident. It was as if the remaining three bodies had been crushed by a high level of applied pressure. It’s also important to point out that one of the women was missing her tongue. Doctors suggested that the sheer force required to inflict the injuries that the bodies sustained could not have been man-made. Further investigation indicated that no other people had been traveling through Kholat Syakhl or in the surrounding areas aside from the missing hikers, so how could the bodies have sustained such tremendous injuries?

Initially the first of the theories involved the Mansi (local indigenous people) who some speculated could have killed the group for intruding upon their territory. Investigation of the area did not support that theory though, as the snow showed no sign of a struggle and only the hikers footprints were observable in the icy landscape. Some have even speculated that the team had been blinded during the night because of the wet pine branches they had used, instead of the nearby dry kindling, that they had used to start the small fire located away from the tent. The only thing the search party could establish for certain was that Dyatlov’s team had quickly left the camp on their own accord in the middle of the night, dressed far too scantily for the storm that would have been occurring at the time. Some of the men and women were only wearing one shoe while others merely socks and sections of clothes ripped from those who were presumably already dead.  Later, when forensic radiation test were conducted, surprisingly high doses of radioactive contamination were found to be present on a few of the victims and their clothing.

50 kilometers south of the Kholat Syakhl, another group of hikers later reported seeing strange orange globes in the sky, likely in the direction of the hikers camp during the night of the incident. Some reports have even suggested that a large quantity of strange scrap medal had been found in the area. From February to March of 1959, others, including the meteorology service and the military, also reported seeing the strange mystery orbs in the night sky. Since then, there have been numerous stories surrounding the incident. Everything from a military UFO cover up to a possible meteor crash; neither supplying much in the way of answers to what really happened on that  February night. Many of the journalists and writers who had been given special permission to observe the original case files have since claimed much of that information now missing, as is a mysterious “envelope” that is made mention of in the evidence list.

Though no one is able to verify whether the above claims are actually true, the many who believe in the possibility of a military cover-up see this as probable evidence to suggest that such a cover up did, in fact, happen.

The Dyatlov Pass incident has been deemed as one of the strangest unsolved mysteries of its time and has left skeptics, investigators, and paranormal enthusiasts alike, scratching their heads as they try to piece together a possible explanation to the bizarre and unfortunate sequence of events. In Ekaterinburg, The Dyatlov Foundation was founded with the hopes of encouraging Russian officials to reopen the investigation and to finally put an end to all of the speculation. In the swell of possibility and curiosity that has since surrounded the incident, the foundation aims to keep the memory of the 9 dead hikers alive in the hope that one day, the answers to the question will be found.


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  1. ~D~

    02/02/2009 at 6:36 AM

    The government is responsible…..the government is responsible for everything that is deemed “unsolved” doncha know 😉

  2. Kimmijae

    02/02/2009 at 5:45 PM

    Very cool story. Thanks!

  3. Christina

    02/02/2009 at 10:24 PM

    Very interesting. Can you imagine being Yuri Yudin knowing that just because you turned back you escaped such a horrible death? That had to be surreal. Great Writing Dana!!

  4. Andy The Radio Man

    02/02/2009 at 10:25 PM

    They were all in the tent.

    Someone farted.

    Mystery solved.

  5. Dan

    02/04/2009 at 8:17 AM

    Being a crazy liberal and Obama supporter, I blame George Bush. And vodka.

    • Kristie

      08/08/2013 at 6:06 PM

      It is really easy to see why republicans are hated in the US…Ignorati….pure and simple.

  6. Adam

    04/03/2009 at 9:41 PM

    This is clearly a case of Popov’s finest.

  7. Meg

    09/29/2009 at 12:27 AM

    The half naked or nearly naked thing actually makes medical sense- frighteningly enough. When the brain is shocked (by lack of oxygen, high fever, extreme cold) people do wierd shit. Taking clothes of when you are suffering from hypothermia is actually a fairly common thing. (there are websites dedicated to it) It’s because your brain is not processing things rationally anymore. Irrational behavior is also worsened when you have groups suffering similar syptoms together, as there is no one to be a rational voice (hey this isn’t a good idea guys) in the group.

    I work on an ambulance, and I get to experience (luckily) both the certifiable crazy and the medical crazy all the time. For instance an asthmatic so hypoxic (lacking oxygen to the brain) that even though she was on a gurney, going 75 down the freeway in the back of an ambulance with oxygen mask on and the air going, she began desperately trying to pry open the back doors of the ambulance to get “outside” for more air! we had to physically restrain her because she was going to kill herself (and take my partner out with her). Once she was returned to a normal oxygen state, she acted like a completely different person and did not remember the incident. The brain doesn’t like when you mess with it’s normal operating system, so to speak. (diabetics with low blood sugar are LOADS of fun too).

    That explains the first five (and seeing as how the coroner ruled the deaths by hypothermia and “stripping” is a side effect, it is plausible).

    I however have nothing when it comes to the other three. The poor bastards. Remind me to never go hiking in Russia.

  8. Bucky

    09/28/2011 at 11:44 PM

    According to another show I was watching the translation of thier destination Otorten in the local language is loosely, “Don’t go there” and the valley they died in is translated as, “Valley of Death” due to a similar occurance a few hundred years before this incident.

    So you have a group of hikers going to “Don’t go there” mountain who take refuge in “The Valley of Death”. One really has to wonder, who booked this trip?

    Also there were reports of some of the bodies seeming to have aged considerably, hair gray and skin wrinkly etc. Strange incident indeed.

    • Gyorkos Karoly

      10/09/2011 at 12:24 PM

      The correct translation is “peak of the dead”. Kholat Syakhl (mansi) is = to hungarian “hallot szikla”. Anyway, it’s fucking creepy! And yes, i believe in aliens, at least after reading the Bible.

  9. Dan Olson

    12/18/2011 at 1:24 AM

    Aliens / UFO are behind the mystery. Im 100% sure. Its just like cattle mutatlions in the states. Both have raditation, missing tongues, and crushed bones.Orange spheres were seen in the area that nite. No other explanation is is probable. There was no avalandse and no mansice raiding party. It wasnt the military testing either, the area would have been off limits all civilian hikers. And to test on a remote mountain in the middle of winter; very very unlikely. The “orange spheres ” are the cause of the deaths.

    • Dana Newkirk

      12/18/2011 at 5:48 PM

      Interesting. Hadn’t thought about the similarities between Dylatov and cattle mutilation.

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