Mys­tery of the month: Dy­at­lov Pass In­ci­dent

How did nine Rus­sian hikers meet their hor­rific deaths?

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Strug­gling through the blast­ing snow and wind, in sub-zero tem­per­a­tures, the res­cue team scoured the slopes of Kho­lat Syakhl – or ‘The Moun­tain of the Dead’ in the na­tive lan­guage of Siberia, Rus­sia. It was Fe­bru­ary 1959, and they were search­ing for a group of nine ex­pe­ri­enced hikers that should have re­turned to base camp eight days pre­vi­ously. The res­cue team feared the worst – but what they dis­cov­ered shocked them to the core.

First, they stum­bled on the hikers’ aban­doned tent. It had clearly been left in a hurry – the trail of foot­prints lead­ing away from the tent were made by bare feet. Ev­ery­thing the hikers needed to sur­vive – warm clothes, food, cooking uten­sils – had been left in the tent, and there were huge slashes down the side, as if made by a knife. The ob­vi­ous con­clu­sion was that the hikers had fled from some form of at­tack.


On the edge of the for­est, about a third of a mile from the tent, the res­cuers found two of the hikers – dead. Yuri Krivonis­chenko, 23, and Yuri Doroshenko, 21, were both clad only in their un­der­wear. Need­less to say, they’d frozen solid.

Not far away was the body of Igor Dy­at­lov, the 23-year old group leader. A snif­fer dog dis­cov­ered the bod­ies of Zi­naida Kol­mogorova, 24, and Rustem Slo­bodin, 23, who had ap­par­ently died try­ing to make their way back to the camp.

Due to the treach­er­ous weather con­di­tions, it wasn’t for an­other two months that the fi­nal four bod­ies were dis­cov­ered, in a ravine 75 me­tres deeper into the woods. And un­like the other hikers, who had clearly died of hy­pother­mia, these un­lucky souls had met more grue­some ends.

Ni­co­lai Thibeaux-brig­nolles, 23, had sig­nif­i­cant skull dam­age and Lyud­mila Du­bin­ina, 20, and Se­myon Zolotaryov, 38, had ma­jor chest frac­tures that could only have been caused by an im­mense force. Most hor­rif­i­cally of all, Dub­n­ina was miss­ing her tongue, eyes, part of the lips, as well as fa­cial tis­sue and a frag­ment of her skull bone.

The body of the ninth and fi­nal hiker, Alexan­der Kol­e­va­tov, 24, was found nearby, with­out the se­vere in­juries of the oth­ers.

The hike which ended in such hor­rific cir­cum­stances be­came known as the Dy­at­lov Pass In­ci­dent. It cap­tured the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion, and has even been made into a film. But the mys­tery of how the hikers met their grue­some ends has never been solved.


Ini­tially, the indige­nous Mansi tribes­men were blamed for the at­tack – but they were largely peace­ful, and claimed no re­spon­si­bil­ity for the in­ci­dent.

An­other the­ory put for­ward was that the group had been killed by an avalanche, which would ac­count for the blunt trauma in­juries on some of the bod­ies – but there was no ev­i­dence that an avalanche had oc­curred at that site.

Could it have been some kind of ro­man­tic en­tan­gle­ment that turned into full-blown mur­der, oth­ers won­dered? But that didn’t ex­plain the huge trauma in­juries on some of the dead.

What’s re­ally weird is that, around the time the group met their un­timely ends, glow­ing golden orbs were spot­ted float­ing to­wards Kho­lat Syal. They were seen by an­other group of hikers about 50km away, and this ev­i­dence was cor­rob­o­rated by re­ports from the weather ser­vice and army.

It was also re­ported that the bod­ies had higher lev­els of ra­di­a­tion than is nor­mal – so had they been the un­lucky vic­tims of some kind of alien ab­duc­tion? Is that what they’d been flee­ing from – and had some of them been caught...?

In the end, the cause of death was put down to ‘nat­u­ral cir­cum­stances’ and left at that. But let’s face it, there was noth­ing nat­u­ral about it.

Trib­ute: The de­parted hikers Bleak: Siberia Slashed tent: Scene of ter­ror

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