The Dyatlov Pass Incident (1959) - Shreya Sachdev
DISCLAIMER: No disrespect is intended towards anyone that I talk about on this blog post. This blog post is for educational purposes and is being posted on this website in order to raise awareness about this case and to truly hope that the grieving families and friends of these victims find closure and finally find out what happened to their loved one(s). I have gathered all this information on the internet, but unfortunately I do not know how accurate or inaccurate it is. If I have made a mistake somewhere, then I apologize. It is not my intention to spread false information.
On February 2nd, a group of nine hikers who were led by Igor Dyatlov mysteriously died whilst hiking the Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union. On the 5th of January in 1959, ten hikes (two women and eight men) were going to go on a fourteen day expedition to Otorten, which was a 1200 meter hike. The route that they were taking at that time was considered a category 3 which was the highest category and meant that the hike was very difficult. All of the hikers were in their mid 20s and were quite young, except for one man named Samuel who was in his late 30s. All of them were students or graduates from the Ural Polytechnique Institution and were all very experienced in hiking, skiing, and the outdoors.
This hike was very well documented. Everyone had cameras, photos, and diaries and so there is a lot of information. From the diary entries, it was confirmed that the weather conditions during the hike were what the hikers had expected, if not a little better. The diary entries had also stated that the hikers had learnt how to walk and conserve energy at the same time. Towards the end, the weather seemed to get progressively worse and the diary does talk about high wind speeds.
On the 25th of January, the group arrived in Ivdel. From there, they caught a truck to Vizhai which was the last inhabitant settlement to the North, and from there is where they started their hike. On the 27th of January was when the group was actually meant to start their hike, but one of their group members became sick and ended up staying in Vizhai. He was the only person in the group of ten who survived. The group ended up beginning their hike on the 1st of February at 3:00pm and didn’t get very far. They only hiked around 4km before they had to stop and set up camp on a slope which was 16km from their final destination. The group had dinner around 6:00pm and ate inside of the tent. The only two people that weren’t there were outside of the tent relieving themselves. This was the last known movements of the group.
When nobody had heard from these nine hikers, nobody was really worried. Igor had told the university that he would contact them on the 12th of February when he got back to Vizhai. When Igor didn’t contact the university on the 12th, the university still wasn’t very worried since they knew that these expeditions sometimes took longer than one expected and Igor had even told them that he was planning on taking longer. Relatives of these nine hikers were obviously a little bit more worried, and consistently asked for a rescue mission from the university until the university finally agreed to one. This rescue mission consisted of a group of students from the university as well as teachers. It wasn’t until the 20th of February that the police and the army got involved as well and made use of planes and helicopters to help find these nine hikers.
Six days after the official search began, on the 26th of February, one student from the rescue mission found the hiker’s tent which was badly damaged. The tent was half torn down and looked as if the tent had been cut from the inside out so that they could escape. This tent also had all of their belongings inside such as clothes, shoes, socks, and food. Around the camp, there were also many sets of footprints which shows that there was no one else around the camp except for the group. These footprints also showed everyone that nobody had been running away from anything, and the nine hikers were quite relaxed and were just walking. The footsteps also suggested that the hikers had not been wearing shoes, and only wearing socks.
Police followed the footsteps for 500 meters which led them to a forest. At the edge of a forest (1km from where the tent was set up), they found an old fire which had been put out. They also found the two bodies of Yuri Nikolayevich Doroshenko and Yuri (Georgiy) Alexeyevich Krivonischenko under a tree. When the bodies were found, they were all naked except for their underwear and their socks. It has been said that this could’ve been due to paradoxical undressing which happens in about 25% cases of hypothermia victims where their hypothalamus doesn’t work properly and so they feel their temperature rising and they feel themselves getting hotter and hotter when their temperature is actually dropping. Another strange thing about the discovery of these bodies was that the branches of the tree that they were under had all been broken as if somebody had tried to climb them. The two hands of the bodies were also severely damaged and completely shredded. From this, it kind of seemed as if these two men had tried to climb the tree to get away from something.
The next day, on the 27th of February, the rescue team found two more bodies. The team found the body of Igor Alekseyevich Dyatlov which was 300 meters away from the tree, and the rescue mission also found the body of Zinaida Alekseevna Kolmogorova who was 630 meters away from the tree, making her 330 meters away from Igor. Six days later, on the 5th of March, they found the body of Rustem Vladimirovich Slobodin and he was found around the same area that Igor was found and he was 480 meters away from the tree. These three bodies all looked as if they were trying to get back to the tent. None of these bodies had any injuries except for Rustem who had a cracked skull but it didn’t seem as if this was a fatal injury or caused him to die. It seemed more that all of them had died of hypothermia. After these five bodies were found, a legal inquest began. It also wasn’t until a whole two months later on the 5th of May that the remaining four bodies were found. Due to the fact that it had taken so long to find these bodies, they were all covered in four meters of snow which made it much harder to locate the bodies. The bodies had been found much further into the forest. It also looked as if they had made a little snow den and put branches inside there to keep themselves warm. It seemed as if these four had survived a lot longer than the previous five bodies because they had taken clothes from the deceased bodies to keep themselves warm and alive. However, three of these four bodies had died from fatal injures and only one out of the four had died from hypothermia. Nikolai Vladimirovich Thibeaux-Brignolles had major skull damage and Lyudmila Alexandrovna Dubinina and Semyon (Alexander) Alekseevich Zolotaryov both had major fractions to their chest. None of these people had external wounds so it seemed as if these people had died from a massive amount of pressure. One thing that’s extremely strange about this is that when Lyudmila was found, she was missing her tongue and her eyeballs. The eyeballs were explained as part of the decomposition process but the tongue wasn’t. To this day, nobody knows why her tongue was missing. Another strange thing is that the four bodies that were found were all found around the den as opposed to inside the den. Furthermore, the two bodies that were found under the tree had clothes that were radioactive.
Due to a lack of a guilty party, the case was dismissed soon after. Later, however, it was confirmed that the group died because of many mistakes that Igor Dyatlov had made. They stated that Igor left too late and that he set up camp in the wrong place. Everyone said that the group ended up dying due to natural causes. Six of the bodies died from hypothermia and three of the bodies died from pressure.
It is possible that all these deaths were caused by an avalanche. These were all very experienced hikers and so it doesn’t necessarily make sense as to why they would have to tear their campsite from inside to get out. When they felt the avalanche, they probably didn’t have any time to get all of their belongings since they were worried for their lives. However, there was no evidence of an avalanche and usually there would be pretty clear evidence of an avalanche. They were all also experienced hikers and it doesn’t make sense as to why they would set up camp anywhere near an avalanche.
The second theory is the one that’s most likely believed. In a few of the photos, you can see that there is an exhaust pipe which was set up by Dyatlov. All of the hikers cooked their meals inside of the tent and so this exhaust pipe was to let all of the flumes outside of the tent so that the tent didn’t break down. Once they were done cooking, it seemed as if they would remove the exhaust pipe. It is possible that the group was having trouble with this exhaust pipe previously since there is a photo of one of the group members with his jacket burnt, and it is possible that this exhaust pipe burnt the jacket. The last known movements of the group is that they had all been coking and so it is possible that when they finished cooking, they took the exhaust pipe out and it’s possible that somehow there were a few embers on the stove and that these got reignited and caused the ten to fill up with smoke. This is what caused the nine hikers to leave the tent behind and go to the woods to find shelter.
Which theory do I believe?
Wow. After researching this case and the theories that surround it, I think I’ve really come to admire people who were able to piece together the second theory. I truly believe the second theory because everything about it makes sense. I believe that the nine hikers were sitting inside of their tent and eating when all of a sudden they noticed that they were having problems with the exhaust pipe and that the entire tent was filling up with smoke. This is why they cut their tent to get out frantically and went into the woods to try and find shelter. It is possible that once they were in the woods, all nine hikers got into a fight and decided to find shelter their own way which is why their bodies were found so apart from each other. It’s possible that the two bodies that were found underneath the tree had been climbing the three to see if they could notice the tent and see if the smoke had gone and if they could go back or not. It also explains why their clothes were radioactive, and why they took them off since they knew that if they kept them on that they would die. I really think that everything about this theory makes sense, and it amazes me how people were able to piece this theory together after looking at the photos that these hikers took. However, the main point is that these hikers did die of natural causes and that there was definitely no foul play involved.
Bibliography & Credit: Fiori, Bella, director. THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT. YouTube, YouTube, 26 Oct. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ueLIUaTR7c.