MANPUPUNER ROCK FORMATIONS
WHAT KILLER LURKS ON THE WAY TO THESE PILLARS?
There are several ways to reach the stone pillars of the Manpupuner Plateau— but only one of them is safe: flying there by helicopter. Getting there on foot involves walking for days to reach a destination that had once been sacred to the local Mansi people—so sacred that visiting it was considered to be an act of evil. There are no roads, no houses, and no other signs of civilization in the landscape of ancient forests, barren mountain slopes, and the deep snow of the Ural Mountains during winter. The carnivorous inhabitants include brown bears, wolverines, foxes—and possibly another creature that many people believe does not exist…
The weather is bitter cold as the nine students from the Ural Polytechnic Institute set off on their expedition on January 23, 1959. The legendary seven stone pillars aren’t far away— but the students will never see them. Days later, when the group fails to return home, rescue workers launch a search operation. In the end they find the students’ tent, cut open from the inside. Most of their clothing, shoes, and gear are still at the camp. A few days later, searchers find the hikers’ corpses far from their camp, lying in clusters of two or three. They weren’t dressed for the weather, and some were even barefoot. While six of them had died of hypothermia, the other three had suffered major injuries, including fractured skulls and broken ribs. One female hiker was missing her tongue and eyes. The autopsy report concluded that an “unknown compelling force” had caused the deaths. The inconclusive evidence has sparked a plethora of conspiracy theories over the next 60 years. Some believe the students were killed after seeing something they weren’t supposed to see, such as a secret weapons test. Others suggest that the mountains create frightening infrasound waves at a frequency that caused the students to panic and flee. But no mountain mystery would be complete without suspicions of the supernatural, alien intervention, or a yeti attack.