The Mysterious Dyatlov Pass Incident

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What is the Dyatlov Pass incident?

The unsolved deaths of nine Soviet hikers in the Ural Mountains

What was the goal of the Dyatlov Pass expedition?

To reach Otorten, a mountain 10 kilometers north of the incident site

What caused the hikers to flee their campsite?

Unknown circumstances

How many hikers died from hypothermia according to the Soviet investigation?


What injuries did some of the hikers have?

Missing eyes and tongue

What did the Russian investigation in 2019 conclude?

An avalanche caused the deaths

What is the paradoxical undressing theory?

The theory that hypothermic subjects remove their clothes in response to perceived feelings of burning warmth

What is the Dyatlov Foundation?

A non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the memory of the dead hikers

What did the investigation by experienced investigators from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation conclude?

The harsh weather and lack of experience of the group leader led to the selection of a dangerous camping place

Study Notes

Dyatlov Pass incident: 1959 unsolved deaths in the Soviet Union

  • Nine Soviet hikers died in the northern Ural Mountains under uncertain circumstances in February 1959 in an incident known as the Dyatlov Pass incident.

  • The experienced trekking group from the Ural Polytechnical Institute had established a camp on the eastern slopes of Kholat Syakhl in the Russian SFSR of the Soviet Union. Overnight, something caused them to cut their way out of their tent and flee the campsite while inadequately dressed for the heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures.

  • An investigation by Soviet authorities determined that six of them had died from hypothermia while the other three had been killed by physical trauma. Four of the bodies were found lying in running water in a creek, and three of these four had damaged soft tissue of the head and face – two of the bodies had missing eyes, one had a missing tongue, and one had missing eyebrows.

  • Numerous theories have been put forward to account for the unexplained deaths, including animal attacks, hypothermia, an avalanche, katabatic winds, infrasound-induced panic, military involvement, or some combination of these factors.

  • Russia opened a new investigation into the incident in 2019, and its conclusions were presented in July 2020: that an avalanche had led to the deaths. Survivors of the avalanche had been forced to suddenly leave their camp in low-visibility conditions with inadequate clothing, and had died of hypothermia.

  • A study led by scientists from EPFL and ETH Zürich, published in 2021, suggested that a type of avalanche known as a slab avalanche could explain some of the trekkers' injuries.

  • The group consisted of nine others for the trip, most of whom were fellow students and peers at the university. Each member of the group was an experienced Grade II-hiker with ski tour experience and would be receiving Grade III certification upon their return.

  • The route was designed by Dyatlov's group to reach the far northern regions of the Sverdlovsk Oblast and the upper streams of the Lozva river. The goal of the expedition was to reach Otorten, a mountain 10 kilometres north of the site where the incident occurred.

  • The initial group consisted of eight men and two women, but one member later turned back due to health issues. Yuri Yudin, who had several health ailments, turned back due to knee and joint pain that made him unable to continue the hike.

  • Before leaving, Dyatlov had agreed he would send a telegram to their sports club as soon as the group returned to Vizhai. When the 12th passed and no messages had been received, there was no immediate reaction, as delays of a few days were common with such expeditions.

  • The group's abandoned and badly damaged tent was found on Kholat Syakhl, and nine sets of footprints, left by people wearing only socks or a single shoe or even barefoot, could be followed, leading down to the edge of a nearby wood, on the opposite side of the pass, 1.5 kilometres to the north-east.

  • A legal inquest started immediately after the first five bodies were found, and a medical examination found no injuries that might have led to their deaths, and it was concluded that they had all died of hypothermia.

  • An examination of the fourThe Dyatlov Pass Incident: Avalanche, Katabatic Wind, Infrasound, Military Tests, and Paradoxical Undressing

  • In 1959, nine experienced hikers died in mysterious circumstances at the Dyatlov Pass in the Ural Mountains, Russia.

  • The incident has been the subject of many theories, including avalanche, katabatic wind, infrasound, military tests, and paradoxical undressing.

  • An avalanche is the official cause of death according to the Urals Federal District directorate of the Prosecutor-General's Office, and independent computer simulations by Swiss researchers also suggest this theory.

  • A Swedish-Russian expedition in 2019 proposed that a violent katabatic wind was a plausible explanation for the incident, which would have made it impossible to remain in the tent, forcing the hikers to seek shelter behind the treeline.

  • Infrasound, generated by wind passing over the top of the Holatchahl mountain, has been suggested as another potential cause of the hikers' panic and subsequent injuries.

  • Military tests, including parachute mines and radiological weapons, have also been speculated as a cause of the incident, with some theories relying on scavenging animals to explain injuries.

  • The paradoxical undressing theory suggests that hypothermic subjects remove their clothes in response to perceived feelings of burning warmth, but additional clothing was found on some of the hikers.

  • The Dyatlov Foundation aims to continue investigating the incident and to maintain the Dyatlov Museum to preserve the memory of the dead hikers.

  • The incident has been the subject of numerous books, documentaries, and films, including the 2021 Russian film Dyatlov Pass: The Djatlov Mystery.

  • The case files and other documentaries are gradually being published on a web forum for enthusiastic researchers.

  • A memorial plaque was inaugurated in Solikamsk in Ural's Perm Region, dedicated to Yuri Yudin (the sole survivor of the expedition group), who died in 2013.

  • The harsh weather and lack of experience of the group leader in such conditions led to the selection of a dangerous camping place, according to the 2015 investigation by experienced investigators from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.

Test your knowledge on one of the world's most mysterious incidents with our Dyatlov Pass quiz. Explore the events surrounding the unsolved deaths of nine hikers in the Ural Mountains in 1959, and discover the many theories that have been put forward to explain the tragedy. From avalanche to military involvement and even infrasound, this quiz will challenge your understanding of the Dyatlov Pass incident and its enduring enigma.

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