The strange incident at Dyatlov Pass, 1959.

On the evening of February 2nd, 1959 a group of 9 skiers died near their campsite near the Russian mountain Otorten.

A rescue team discovered the campsite on February 26th.

Journalists reporting on the available parts of the inquest files claim that it states:

  • Six of the group members died of hypothermia and three from fatal injuries.
  • There were no indications of other people nearby on Kholat Syakhl apart from the nine travellers.
  • The tent had been ripped open from within.
  • The victims had died six to eight hours after their last meal.
  • Traces from the camp showed that all group members left the campsite of their own accord, on foot.
  • Some levels of radiation were found on one victim’s clothing.
  • To dispel the theory of an attack by the indigenous Mansi people, Vozrozhdenny stated that the fatal injuries of the three bodies could not have been caused by human beings, “because the force of the blows had been too strong and no soft tissue had been damaged”.
  • Released documents contained no information about the condition of the skiers’ internal organs.
  • There were no survivors.

The Victims

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png
  • Igor Dyatlov (23), of the Radio faculty and a highly experienced outdoorsman;
  • Yuri Doroshenko (21) Power Economics student;
  • Lyudmila Dubinina (20) Economics student;
  • Georgiy Krivonischenko (23) Engineering student;
  • Alexander Kolevatov (24) of the Geo-Technical Faculty;
  • Zinaida Kolmogorova (22) of the Radio faculty;
  • Rustem Slobodin (23) Engineering student;
  • Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolles (23) Engineering student;
  • Semyon (Alexander) Zolotarev (37) – the oldest member of the group. He was a tour guide and ski instructor / professional travel guide.  He was trying to obtain his Master’s Certificate in ski instruction and mountain hiking.   The tragic incident occurred the night before his 38th birthday;
  • Yuri Yudin (21) – Economics student, the only survivor, as he was suffering from lumbago and had to turn back three days before the incident. He passed away in 2013.

25th January the journey begins.

28th January Yuri Yudin suffers joint pain and turns back.

1st February, sometime between 9.30 and 11.30 pm: Something they see or hear scares the group so much that some of them panic and instead of exiting the tent by unzipping the flaps in the regular way, they cut through the sides using a knife and flee into the night, downhill towards the trees and ending up a whole mile away.

The group reach a small woods and make a fire.

Georgiy Krivonischenko and Yuri Doroshenko die from hypothermia.

Igor Dyatlev, Zina Kolmogorova and Rustem Slobodin attempt to return to the tent but don’t make it.  They freeze to death and their bodies are later found 400m, 480m and 630m from the woods.

The remaining members of the party take clothes from their fallen comrades and instead of moving towards the tent they move away from it, towards a ravine. Three sustain several injuries and these, combined with hypothermia, cause their deaths.

12 February: The first time they were to return to Vizhay, but Igor Dyatlov told Yuri Yudin it would more likely be around the 14th.  Thus no alarm is raised at this time.

20 February: relatives concerned that the skiers have not returned get a group from the Polytechnic Institute to begin a search.  There was no mountain search and rescue unit available at the time.  Volunteers from the Institute search but don’t find anything at first.

21 February: Military and civilian officials are brought into the search. Planes and helicopters are dispatched.  The pilot of a plane spots the camp.

26 February:  They find the tent with everything inside intact but no sign of life.  Warm clothes, cooking utensils, cameras… all abandoned.  Student Mikhail Sharavin said the tent was half torn down and covered with snow (though not enough to suggest an avalanche).

26 February:  The bodies of Krivonischenko and Doroshenko, clad only in their underwear, are found at the forest edge where there was evidence that they made a fire.  They were lying under a cedar with branches broken off it to a height of 5m.  Forensic evidence led to the belief that they first climbed the tree and then proceeded to break off branches until their hands were raw.  Stripping the branches off a tree would hardly make it any easier to climb.

300m from the fire, the body of Igor Dyatlov is found, one hand clutching a small birch branch and the other shielding his face as though from a blow.

180m further towards the tent the body of Rustem Slobodin is found.  He is lying face down in the snow and has a minor skull fracture about 17cm in length, but this isn’t considered a major injury.

150m further towards the tent, the body of Zina Kolmorogorov is found.  She appears to have got the furthest before succumbing to the cold.

4 May 1959: Only now, after three months are the rest of the group found, in a ravine under four metres of snow.  These bodies are better clad than the first group, and indicate that they made use of extra clothes from the bodies of their dead comrades.

•The body of Semyon Zolotarev has broken ribs on the right side. 

Thibeaux-Brignolles’ body has major skull trauma. So the group found in the ravine has visible and serious internal injuries, but not the group which was making its way back to the tent and whose bodies were found on 26 February.  It is concluded that six died from hypothermia and three (Dubinina, Zolotarev and Thibeaux-Brignolle) from fatal injuries.

None of the bodies had signs of external trauma or injuries.

The clothes on two of the bodies had traces of radiation.

Official protocol report on the Tent from the Dyatlov group

Tent site is located on the North- eastern slope of mountain 1079 (Kholat Syakhl official term) meters at the mouth of river Auspiya. Tent site is located 300 meters from the top of the mountain 1079 with a slope of 30 °. Test site consists of a pad, leveled by snow, the bottom of which are contains 8 pairs of skis (for tent support and insulation). Tent is stretched on poles and fixed with ropes. On the bottom of the tent 9 backpacks were discovered with various personal items, jackets, rain coats, 9 pairs of shoes. There were also found men’s pants, and three pairs of boots, warm fur coats, socks, hat, ski caps, utensils, buckets, stove, axe, saw, blankets, food: biscuits in two bags, condensed milk, sugar, concentrates, notebooks, itinerary and many other small items and documents, camera and accessories to a camera.

Radiogam sent by Maslenikov, head of the Search team on March 2, 1959.

The main mystery of the tragedy is the hasty retreat of the whole group of tourists. The only thing, besides an ice axe found outside the tents, was a Chinese flashlight on its roof. It confirms the probability of a clothed man outside, who gave some order for everyone to abandon the tent.

Radiographs (page 167)

Zolotarev was well dressed and he probably was outside the tent when he gave the order to abandon the tent and make a run for it. While the tent contained all the items of the Dyatlov group we should point out several strange items that were found in or around the tent. One of the bamboo sticks used for skiing was broken. In fact it was intentially cut and then broken. Why it was done still escapes logic. There were 10 pairs of skis. We have several testimonies from the group about presence of an extra pair. Where did this extra pair and what happened to it, we don’t know. We don’t see a spare in any of the pictures that the Dyatlov Pass group did.

Lead Investigator, Lev Ivanov stated:

“I suspected at the time and am almost sure now that these bright flying spheres had a direct connection to the group’s death.”