Mystery of the month: Dyatlov Pass Incident
How did nine Russian hikers meet their horrific deaths?
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