What was the Dyatlov Pass Incident?

Something caused all nine hikers to flee their campsite in the Ural mountains.
Something caused all nine hikers to flee their campsite in the Ural mountains.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident refers to the unsolved death of nine hikers in February 1959 in the Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union. In January 1959, a 23-year-old student from the Ural Polytechnical Institute named Igor Dyatlov led a team of ten students on an expedition to Mount Ural with the aim of reaching Mt. Ortorten. Between February 1st and February 2nd, 1959, the group pitched camp on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl. During the night, something mysterious happened in the campsite forcing the group to flee without their gear.

The Tragedy

The temperature at night dropped to about -30 degrees Fahrenheit yet the students were found without ski shoes, coats, or blankets. Two of the hikers had fractured skulls, others had their chest completely fractured, while one was found without their tongue. The students had scattered before meeting their deaths, two died under a cedar tree close to the place they had lit a fire, and three died 100 feet from the tree. The two found under the tree had burned hands. At first, investigators thought the remaining four had either committed the crime or escaped, but three months later they were found stacked together in a ravine 250 feet away from the cedar tree. Investigators’ found either eight or nine sets of footprints in the crime scene, suggesting that only the hikers were in the area.

Mysterious Deaths

Nothing in the scene indicated a struggle with either an animal or human, but there was a snowstorm on the night they died as per their diaries. The travelers had experience in hiking and they had successfully made it over frozen lakes and uninhabited landscapes. They were well equipped for the extreme weather. After the five bodies were recovered, the investigators stated the cause of death as hypothermia but things turned weird when some of the victims were found with their underpants only.

The tents had been cut from the inside, and their stuff was still intact. Zolotaryov had fled the camp leaving everything behind but his camera. Slobodan Dyatlov and Kolmogorova had escaped the camp but died while returning. Slobodin has a fracture in his skull. The ribs of Dubinina and Zolotarev were fractured while the skull of Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolles had been severely fractured. The tongue of Dubinina was missing and was never found. The theory that something else was involved came up again after the four were found but there was nothing to suggest the involvement. The skiers clothing contained high levels of radiation.

The Soviet Union conducted an investigation and stated the cause of death as "a compelling natural force." Within one month, the cause was closed inconclusively. The incident was thereafter known as the Dyatlov Pass incident


Several theories of what happened to the group emerged.

A group of hikers 31 miles away reported seeing several yellow spheres close to the place where the incident occurred. The military and the metrological department confirmed the occurrence of the spheres, but neither could explain what they were.

Other researchers claimed that an avalanche had occurred and the hikers had tried to run before being swept away. The theory was later dismissed by observational evidence.

In 2013, Donnie Eichar's published the book “Dead Mountain." He suggested that the wind circulating the mountain created an infrasound which induced panic attacks in humans. The hikers must have run down the mountain away from the sound. When they gained composure, they could not find their way back to the camp.

One of the theories that caught global attention was that they could have been killed by parachute bombs being tested by the Soviet Army at the time. This would explain the radiation in the clothes, the cover-up of the incident by the Soviet authorities, and the disfigured bodies.

Other theories told of supernatural creatures attacking the group as well as the involvement of aliens.

To date, the cause of death of the hikers is yet to be known.


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