The Dyatlov Pass incident refers to an event that resulted in the deaths of nine ski hikers in the northern Ural mountains. The incident happened on the night of February 2, 1959 on the east shoulder of the mountain Kholat Syakhl (a Mansi name, meaning Mountain of the Dead). The mountain pass where the incident occurred has been named Dyatlov Pass after the group's leader, Igor Dyatlov.

The mysterious circumstances and subsequent investigations of the hikers' deaths have inspired much speculation. Investigations of the deaths suggest that the hikers tore open their tent from within, departing barefoot in heavy snow; while the corpses show no signs of struggle, one victim had a fractured skull, two had broken ribs, and one was missing her tongue.

According to sources, the victims' clothing contained high levels of radiation - though this was likely added at a later date, since no reference is made to it in contemporary documentation and only in later documents. Soviet investigators determined only that "a compelling unknown force" had caused the deaths, barring entry to the area for years thereafter. The causes of the accident remain unclear.



A group was formed for a ski trek across the northern Urals in Sverdlovsk , now Ekaterinburg. The group, led by Igor Dyatlov, consisted of eight men and two women. Most were students or graduates of Ural Polytechnical Institute , now Ural State Technical University:

* Igor Dyatlov , the group's leader
* Zinaida Kolmogorova
* Lyudmila Dubinina
* Alexander Kolevatov
* Rustem Slobodin
* Georgyi Krivonischenko
* Yuri Doroshenko
* Nicolas Thibeaux-Brignollel
* Alexander Zolotarev
* Yuri Yudin

The goal of the expedition was to reach Otorten , a mountain 10 kilometers north of the site of the incident. This route, at that season, was estimated as "Category III", the most difficult. All members were experienced in long ski tours and mountain expeditions.

The group arrived by train at Ivdel, a city at the center of the northern province of Sverdlovsk Oblast on January 25. They then took a truck to Vizhai - the last inhabited settlement so far north. They started their march towards Otorten from Vizhai on January 27. The next day, one of the members (Yuri Yudin) was forced to go back because of health problems. The group now consisted of nine people.


Yuri Yudin hugging Lyudmila Dubinina as he prepares to leave the group due to illness, as Igor Dyatlov looks on. Photo taken from a roll of film found at the camp of the Dyatlov Pass incident and annexed to the legal inquest that investigated the deaths.

Diaries and cameras found around their last camp made it possible to track the group's route up to the day preceding the incident. On January 31, the group arrived at the edge of a highland area and began to prepare for climbing. In a woody valley they built a storage for surplus food and equipment which would be used for the trip back. The following day (February 1), the hikers started to move through the pass. It seems they planned to get over the pass and make camp for the next night on the opposite side, but because of worsening weather conditions, snowstorms and decreasing visibility, they lost their direction and deviated west, upward towards the top of Kholat Syakhl. When they realized their mistake, the group decided to stop and set up camp there on the slope of the mountain.

The Search

Initially the officials were hesitant to sound an alarm about the tourists when they missed their day they were supposed to call. The Vizhay Group of Blinov that was mentioned in the Dyatlov diary on January 24th returned in the middle of February and reported a heavy snowstorm in the area of the Kholat Syakhl and future Dyatlov Pass. In light of this information it was assumed that the tourists were spending these extra days somewhere in safety. Risking lives to make extra miles to get back at the due date made no sense. Head of the sport club of UPI, Lev Semenovich Gordo, even lied about receiving a telegram from Dyatlov about the delay to calm parents of Dubinina and Kolevatov. He assumed that in few days the group of Igor Dyatlov was going to make it back anyway. Relatives eventually forced to organize a search party by complaining to the local head of the Communist party. Negative publicity was unwanted and action had to be taken. The head of the military department of UPI, Colonel Georgy Semenovich Ortyukov, took charge of search and rescue party. Many of the students volunteered to look for their lost friends. Several rescue parties were sent to the region on 21st of February. One of these groups were headed by Blinov and another Sogrin. Both groups had just returned from their trips and knew the conditions of the region. Another group of Vladislav Karelin was in the area and joined the search effort. Planes took off from Ivdel airport to search for the group from the air.

On February 22nd several prison guards from the Ivdel 'LAG under leadership of Captain A.A. Chernischev and another 7 officers of MVD (cops) under command of Lieutenant Potapov had joined the search. Another three groups were formed in UPI from student volunteers under leadership of Oleg Grebennik, Moises Akselrod and Boris Slobcov. Additionally local mansi hunters volunteered to help and look for the vanished group. Moscow sent several specialists including E.P. Maslenikov, Baskin, Bardin and Schulzhenko.

On February 23rd the group of Boris Slobcov was dropped near mount Otarten, a final destination for Dyatlov. The next day on February 24th they reached the mountain and came to conclusion that the tourists never made it this far. Students did not find any records, flags or anything else that would indicate a recent visit of a group.

On February 25th Boris Slobcov and his group finally discovered a trail of skis that he assumed to be that of Dyatlov. The next day on February 26th they discovered the tent on the slope of Kholat Syakhl. Ironically Slobcov was among those who actually helped to construct the tent three years earlier from two tents, making it longer and larger. He recognized it immediately. Unfortunately no one expected to find the tourists dead so there was no attempt to preserve or record the footprints of people around the Dyatlov Pass. To this day there has been a discussion of exactly how many people were in this pass on that fateful day. However judging by words of the people involved in the search there were definitely 8-9 tracks of footprints left by tourists who wore almost no footwear. Their feet pressed the snow and this left a characteristic "columns" of pressed snow with a footprint on top. Members of the group walked in a single file with a tall men walking in the back. His footprints partially covered footprints of his friends who walked in front of him. Overall the path gave an impression of organized and uneventful descent down the slope of the mountain. Several trails would deviate from the general direction, but then rejoin the group. Other footprints were also discovered and photographed. It is hard to say if these were left by someone else or rescuers themselves.


A view of the tent as the rescuers found it on Feb. 26, 1959. The tent had been cut open from inside, and most of the skiers had fled in socks or barefoot. Photo taken by soviet authorities at the camp of the Dyatlov Pass incident and anexed to the legal inquest that investigated the deaths.

The first thing that the rescue party discovered was a tourist tent with the stove that Dyatlov made by himself. For reasons that were never answered, the sides of the tent were cut by the tourists. Judging by the number of cuts they were made from inside. It is hard to explain why they chose this strange exit for leaving the tent completely ignoring the entrance. Many of the members were not fully clothed then this happened. Yet, warm clothes, shoes, sweaters, knives and anything that could keep them warm and help survive in Siberian wilderness were abandoned. In fact most of the footwear and clothes were stacked in the middle and edges of the tent. Additionally Boris Slobcov discovered a flash light of Chinese production on the roof of the tent. It laid on a snow cover 5-10 cm in thickness and had no snow on top. He turned on the flashlight. It was in working condition.

Students retrieved three photo cameras from the tent, a group diary, some alcohol  and few minor things. They hurried down the mountain to the campsite that was already established at the base of the mountain. Several mansi natives joined the group. Additionally Egor Semenovich Nevolin, a radioman, joined the search party. At 6pm they radioed back about their discovery on the last campsite of the Dyatlov group. UPI informed them that a large search group will be delivered by a helicopter to their location. They would also deliver two large military tents for better comfort and security. A detective would join the search and rescue effort with Colonel Ortyukov as well.

Several members started cooking dinner while every one else attempted to find clues about the direction of future searches. They found 710 rubles and railroad tickets for the whole group. Most took this as a sign of a good omen. They assumed that criminals were not involved since they would steal everything of value. During dinner Boris Slobcov raised a toast for the health of his friends and expressed hope that they will be found soon. One of the locals, Ivan Paschin, was less optimistic about prospects of finding everyone alive and suggested that they should probably drink for the dead rather than the living. It was a big mistake. Students took these words as offensive and almost beat up the local for his pessimism. Still no one could believe in the possibility that that group of young women and men can simply perish like that in Siberian Taiga.

27th February - The next morning Yury Koptelov and Michael Scharavin went to look for a new place for a campsite. They explored the valley of the Lozva river when a tall cedar attracted their attention. A fairly even and large area near this cedar could provide the search party a better view of the mountain and surrounding locations. Both men approached the cedar and stopped. Two bodies lay in the snow and remains of a fire were visible nearby. Bodies were carefully laid side by side. Snow wasn't very deep in this location due to constant blow of the wind so it became very clear that they found two bodies of the missing group. The first thing noticed by the searching group was the clothes of the dead. They had no shoes and were almost completely naked. Some theories later will blame this on "paradoxical undressing", but we will see later that it had nothing to do with the mental condition of the tourists. Prosecutor of Ivdel, Vasily Ivanovich Tempalov, discovered another body just 400 meters from the cedar. The body of a man laid on the back with his head pointing in the direction of the tent. Students quickly recognized Igor Dyatlov, the head of the group. Mansi hunters with their dogs started to explore the mountain side and quickly discovered the body of Kholmogorova about 500 meters from Dyatlov. The position of her body pointed in the direction of the tent. Dyatlov and Kholmogorova bodies were on the same line between cedar and a tent. It became evident that both tourists actually tried to make way from the tall cedar back to the tent, but didn't make it all the way.

bodies1-1.jpg   bodies2-1.jpg

Meanwhile the contents of the tent from the Dyatlov group were removed. This happened chaotically, without any order, photos or even presence of anyone from the law. Students simply removed the objects and attempted to organize belongings by name. We can understand their honest desire to return these things to families of the dead, however in doing so they undermined any research in this area. We have only few testimonies from the people who undertook these actions. Some of them were conflicting and thus more confusing. They discovered that the group was apparently about to have their dinner. A self made newspaper "Evening Otorten" was also found here. The date was marked as 1st February 1959. One of the unusual and unexpected findings was a skiing pole with clear cutting marks. Tourists didn't have any extra poles. It is unclear why someone in the right mind would damage the pole on purpose. Among other things tourists also left their footwear. Many had two pairs, one for the actual hike and another, softer one, were used in the tent to keep warm at night. Both pairs were found abandoned. This could be explained that whatever forced them out of the tent came in the time then everyone was changing and preparing for a sleep. Additionally the tent contained several knives and hatchets. These were abandoned too for some reason, although some tourists had knives with them when they left.

The next week of search did not yield any results. The only thing that was found was another Chinese flash light in the valley of Lozva valley. The batteries were dead, but the flash light was in "on" position. On March 2nd three students and two Mansi hunters discovered a camp base in the Auspiya valley. Tourists left some of their food provision and gear to lighten the load (55 kg in total). Additionally there was a mandolin belonging to Rustem Slobodin, a few clothes, ski shoes and a pair of skis. On the way back the tourists intended to retrieve these things. None of these things were taken however.

On March 3rd many of the students returned home, since they had to return to their studies. Moscow specialists also left. Their report is somewhat short and inconclusive. They could not explain the reason why several normal people would abandon there tent in the middle of the night without shoes and little protection from the wind.

On March 5th the body of Rustem Slobodin was recovered. He was discovered on the same general line from a cedar to a tent. His position was in between bodies of Dyatlov (180 meters away) and Kholmogorova (150 meters). He was the only member of the group that fell while fairly warm. The head from his body melted the snow that subsequently froze forming a frozen bed underneath the dead body. His watch recorded 8:45.

The cedar had its lower branches cut. Later inspection showed that part of human skin and blood was still lodged in the bark crevices. Bodies of both tourists were laying side by side near an extinguished fire. Part of their clothes were carefully cut off. Pants of Yuri Krivonishenko were left in place. They showed certain degree of radioactivity. On March 31 the group of search and rescue volunteers saw strange glowing pulsating orbs in the sky. One of the members, Valentin Yakimenko, described this event. "It happened early in the morning while it was still dark. Viktor Mescheryakov who stood guard that night left the tent and saw a large glowing sphere in the sky. He woke up everyone. We watched this orb (or a disk) for about 20 minutes until it disappeared behind the mountain. We saw it in the South-East direction from our tent. It was moving in the Northern direction. This event freaked everyone. We were sure that this event was somehow involved in the death of the Dyatlov group".

Meanwhile the search for remaining four bodies continued. Few search party participants held much optimism about their fate. Several scientists came to the slopes of the Kholat Syakhl with a geiger counter. Since Krivonischenko had his clothes missing it was assumed that his sweater along with this pants were contaminated with radiation. Looking for a source of radiation could theoretically help them discover remaining bodies. Unfortunately it wasn't until May of the same year when the last four bodies were discovered. The discovery raised more questions about the fate of the tourist group. The last remaining skiers managed to dig a den in the snow to keep themselves warm. Among them  these bodies had broken ribs, a broken skull and in the case of Lyudmila Dubinina a missing tongue. They were better dressed than the rest of the group and their deaths were clearly not caused by hypothermia.

Judging by the type of helicopters and their markings there were at least three machines involved in search and rescue efforts. This included at least one civilian and at least two military helicopters. The Soviet Union rarely showed so much dedication in search of common tourists. Some explain this as ties to the KGB of one or more members from the Dyatlov group. However another explanation might lie in the fact that climb of Mount Otorten was devoted to Communist Congress in Moscow. Obviously it had a certain degree of political motivation for the officials to spare no costs in the searches.


Judging by the remains near the bodies it was concluded that young men and women managed to start a fire, but failed to sustain it for a extended period of time. However no one could explain why bodies showed so many fractures, internal bleeding, or burned parts of the body. Another perplexity and mystery were added by a fact that the sweater and pants of Krivonischenko showed increased radiation levels. First of all it is perplexing why clothes of only one man would be affected, while the rest of the group would not. Another mystery consists in the fact that officials insisted on checking for radiation. There was no real reason for that. And that it seems that they knew what they were looking for. After the body of Krivonischenko and his four friends were discovered it became clear that someone had Krivonischenko's radioactive clothes. So several scientists were sent to the slopes of Kholat Syakhl with a geiger counter in the hopes that they will discover the bodies of those tourists who retrieved the sweater and pants from the dead Krivonischenko. Presence of radiation and incredible knowledge about this radiation is something that no one could explain fifty years ago and to this day remains a mystery. Several witnesses and family members reported strange discoloration on the bodies of the victims. One of the family members compared their skin color to those of people of African descent. Additionally the group was missing at least one camera and a diary of Kolevatov. Yury Yudin testifies that he kept a detailed description in his own blog in addition to the diary that was a group diary. It went missing either on the mountain or from an evidence room. Either way no one remembered seeing it.


The den was made by the surviving four members of the Dyatlov group 70-75 meters from the cedar in a ravine that was hidden from cold winds. It was probably an idea of Zolotarev. It was a common way to survive winters at the front and given the circumstances it offered the best chance for survival for those who remained behind waiting in hope that their three friends will make it to the top of the mountain. It further undermines the theory of paradox undressing. The group clearly realized these threats and did everything they could to preserve themselves. Cedar branches were brought here and laid out to minimize contact of human bodies and cold snow underneath. Furthermore Ludmila Dubinina had the sweater and pants of Krivonischenko. Both as it turned out had radiation present on them. However the strangeness of the case was not resolved. In fact it became more weird. All, but three members had significant damage to their bones. They were crushed with immense force. Doctors compared the extend of the damage to being hit by a car. A second thing that is striking about the den is that the bodies were actually found a few feet from their improvised shelter in the deep part of the ravine in an area of only 4 square meters. Some of the clothes that were taken from bodies left underneath the cedar tree were placed on the cedar branches, but apparently they were not used.

Medical Autopsy of the bodies

Autopsy of the first four bodies (Doroshenko, Krivonischenko, Dyatlov, Kholmogorova) was performed in a village of Vizhai on March 4th, 1959 by Boris Alekseevich Vozrojdenniy. He recorded damages and clothing that the victims wore at the time of their discovery. The autopsy of Rustem Slobodin who was found on the 5th of March was performed on 8th of March.

Yuri Doroshenko

Yury Doroshenko is one of the two tourists that were found under a cedar. He was most sturdy and tallest member of the group at a height of 180 cm. He was wearing a vest and a shirt, short sleeve shirt, knit pants and shorts over pants. His pants were badly ripped with one large hole (23 cm in length) on the right side and smaller on the left (13 cm in length). On his feet a pair of wool socks. Pants had tears inside of the thighs. Additionally the left foot had burnt socks. No footwear.

hair is burned on the right side of the head

ear, nose and lips are covered by blood  

right armpit has a bruise 2cm*1.5 cm  

inner surface of the right shoulder has two abrasions 2cm*1.5cm with no bleeding in the tissues, two cuts on the skin

in the upper third of right forearm brown-red bruises with size 4*1cm, 2.5*1.5cm, 5*5cm

fingers on both hands have torn skin

bruised skin in the upper third of both legs

signs of frostbite on face and ears

on the right cheek, foamy gray fluid discharges from the mouth

Amount of urine was 150 grams. Foamy grey fluid that was found on the right cheek of the deceased gave some doctors a reason to think that before death someone or something was pressing on his chest cavity. Discharges were quiet common during forceful interrogation by the NKVD (Stalin's Secret Police) and Special Forces. This could also have been caused by a nasty fall from a tree. Nevertheless this aspect was ignored in the final papers. Cause of death: hypothermia.

George (Yuri) Krivonischenko

His body was the second discovered underneath the cedar. He was dressed in a shirt, long sleeved shirt, swimming pants, pants and torn sock on his left leg. He had no footwear.

bruises on the forehead 0.3*1.8cm and a bruise around left temporal bone

diffuse bleeding in the right temporal and occipital region due to damage to temporalis muscle

tip of the nose is missing

frostbitten ears

bruises on the right side of the chest 7*2cm and 2*1.2cm

bruises on hands

detachment of the epidermis on the back of his left hand at width of 2cm

portion of the epidermis from the right hand is found in the mouth of the deceased

bruises on the thighs (8-11) with minor scratches

bruise on his left buttock 10*3cm

abrasions on the outer side of the left size 6*2cm and 4*5 cm

bruises on the left leg 2*1, 2*1.5 and 3*1.3 cm (19-21)

burn on the left leg 10*4 cm

The amount of urine in the bladder was 500 grams. Cause of death: hypothermia. He froze to death. The presence of skin between his teeth that was torn from his hands might suggest that Krivonischenko tried to stay on the cedar as long as he could. Some theories speculate it was a result of his dedication to cut as many tree branches as he could. Others claim something on the ground kept him on a tree.

The first two bodies of (Doroshenko and Krivonischenko) that were found from the Dyatlov Incident showed an expected pattern of death. They froze to death. Their clothes were removed by their friends. It might sound bad, but this is the reality of Siberia. If you can't keep yourself warm, you will die quickly. One of the most common myths that surround these deaths is a theory of so-called "paradoxical undressing". This theory ignores the fact that the bodies were undressed after they died and it was done by other members with a help of a knife in some cases. Different articles of clothing were simply cut from the dead bodies or taken off and used by other members of a group. These tourists clearly showed logical will to live. There was no state of panic and there was no illogical actions. Bodies were carefully and respectfully laid side by side and their possessions were divide among the survivors.

Zinaida Kolmogorova

Zinaida was better dressed than bodies underneath the cedar. She had two hats, long sleeved shirt, sweater, another shirt and a sweater with torn cuffs. It was unclear whether she cut them off or they were torn by another person. She also had trousers, cotton athletic pants, ski pants with three small holes on the bottom. She also had three pairs of socks. No footwear and a military mask.

swelling of meninges (important feature of hypothermia)

frostbites on the phalanges of fingers

numerous bruises on hands and palms

a long bruise that encircled her on the right side, 29* 6cm

Amount of urine in bladder is 300 g. Her cause of death was proclaimed as a hypothermia due to violent accident. Further studies proved that she was not sexually active at the time of her death.

Igor Dyatlov

The head of the deceased was bare. He had a unbuttoned fur coat with pockets, a sweater, long sleeved shirt, ski pants over his pants. Footwear was absent. He had only one pair of socks, woolen on the right, cotton on the left. It is hard to explain this uneven distribution. It could be that he had two socks on one foot and later took it off to protect the other bare foot. It might have been someone else's sock who simply gave it away to protect a friend from a certain death. He had a pocket knife and a photo of Zina Kolmogorova. The hand on his watch showed 5:31.

minor abrasions on the forehead

abrasions above the left eyebrow of brown-red color

brown-red abrasions on both cheeks

dried blood on lips

on the lower third of the right forearm and the palm surface many small scratches of dark red coloration

metacarpophalangeal joints on the right hand had brown red bruises. This is common injury in hand to hand fights. To get a better idea of the injuries just make a fist. This is the part of the hand which you use to hit someone.

brownish-purple bruises on the left hand, also superficial wounds on the 2nd and 5th finger

bruised knees without bleeding into the underlying tissues

on the lower third of the right leg bruising

both ankles had abrasions, bright red, size 1*0.5 cm and 3.0*2.5 cm. Hemorrhage into the underlying tissue

There were no internal injuries. Amount of urine in the bladder about one litre. The cause of death was hypothermia. Later Yury Yudin will testify that the long sleeved shirt found on the body of Igor Dyatlov was his. But he gave it to Doroshenko when he was departing. It would be logical to assume that Dyatlov got it from the frozen body of Doroshenko after he had died.

Rustem Slobodin

Rustem wore a long sleeve shirt, another shirt, sweater, two pairs of pants, four pairs of socks. Unlike previous bodies he wore one boot (valenki) on his right leg. His watch stopped at 8:45am. His pockets had 310 rubles and a passport. Additionally searchers discovered a knife, pen, pencil, comb and a match box with a single sock.

minor brownish red abrasions on the forehead, two scratches are 1.5 cm long at the distance of 0.3 cm between them

brownish red bruise on the upper eyelid of the right eye with hemorrhage into the underlying tissues

traces of blood discharge from the nose

swollen lips

swelling and a lot of small abrasions of irregular shape on the right half of the face

abrasions on the left side of the face

epidermis is torn from the right forearm

bruises in the metacarpophalangeal joints on both hands. Similar bruises are common in hand to hand combat

brown cherry bruises on the medial aspect of the left arm and left palm

bruises on the left tibia in dimensions at 2.5* 1.5 cm

Fracture of the frontal bone and hemorrhages in the temporalis muscle were found on the skull of Rustem Slobodin. Boris Alekseevich Vozrojdenniy suggested that this could be done with some foreign blunt object. Medical autopsy further states that Slobodin probably suffered loss of coordination due to initial shock right after the blow that could speed up his death from hypothermia. However the conclusion is predictably careful. Death of Rustem Slobodin is judged as a result from hypothermia. All bruises and scratches were blamed on last minute agony. Although it is still somewhat unclear how did he manage to harm his exterior hands and legs. When a person falls even in an irrational state it is usually the palms that suffer the most as well as medial aspects of the legs. Injury to the head are less common, especially bilateral ones. It is also usual to harm the face and sides of the skull while the back of the head has no damage. In case of Slobodin we see the opposite. His injury pattern is a reverse of what we would usually see in injuries suffered by a freezing man in the last minutes of his life. It looks as if Rustem fell repeatedly on his face as he was walking down the mountain. And every time he fell he managed to hit the sides of the his head. It is unusual to see this in a man who was probably in a better physical shape than anyone in the group. Even a long ski trip could hardly be responsible for this alleged "clumsiness".

The remaining four bodies were inspected on May 9th, 1959. Their bodies were found several months after their deaths by a Mansi native Kurikov with his dog.

Ludmila Dubinina

Ludmila wore a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, and two sweaters. The body was covered by underwear, long socks, two pairs of pants. External pair was badly damaged by fire and subsequently ripped. She also wore a small hat and two pairs of warm socks. A third sock was not paired. Ludmila apparently in the last attempt to preserve her feet took off her sweater and cut it in two pieces. One half she rapped around her left foot. Another half she left or dropped unintentionally on the snow.

tongue is missing

soft tissues are missing around eyes, eyebrows, and left temporal area, bone is partially exposed

eyes are missing  

nose cartilages are broken and flattened

2, 3, 4, 5 ribs are broken on the right side, two fracture lines are visible

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ribs are broken on the left side, two fracture lines are visible

soft tissues of the upper lip are missing, teeth and upper jaw is exposed

massive hemorrhage in the heart's right atrium

bruise in the middle left thigh, size 10*5cm

damaged tissues around left temporal bone, size 4*4cm

Occasionally you hear claims that the tongue was ripped, or eaten. The medical records simply that "the tongue is missing". Vozrojdenniy describes missing hypoglossal muscle as well as muscles of the floor of the mouth. That is it. There is no explanation, theories, condition of the surrounding tissues. It looks weird especially given the fact the previous bodies had more detailed autopsies. There is no credible explanation for this vague statement. Although it is mentioned that the stomach contained about 100 g of coagulated blood. It is used by some as an indication that the heart was beating and the blood was flowing when tongue was removed from a mouth. The cause of death is stated as hemorrhage into right atrium of the heart, multiple fractured ribs and internal bleeding.

Semen Zolotarev

Body of Semen Zolotarev was found with two hats, a scarf, shorts, long sleeve shirt, black sweater and a coat with two upper buttons unbuttoned. It was fairly clear that the guy didn't die from the coldness. On the contrary the den was a pretty warm place for him. His lower part of the body was protected by underwear, two pairs of pants and a pair of skiing pants. He had a copy of newspapers, several coins, a compass, and a few other items. His legs were protected by a pair of socks and a pair of warm leather hand made shoes known as "burka". They probably couldn't keep him warm for a long time, but in the den it was sufficient in keeping the man alive. Additionally the body of Zolotarev had a camera around his neck. We should add that this camera became a complete surprise to Yury Yudin. He assumed the group had only four cameras that were found in the tent. And all of the sudden a fifth camera turned up on the body. Unfortunately melting water damaged the film. But the question still lingers. Why did Zolotarev leave the tent with the camera and why did he take two cameras to the trip? One was used on a daily basis and everyone saw it. It was left in the tent and discovered there by the search party, but another was hidden throughout a journey and was found only after Semen Zolotarev have died.

eye balls are missing

missing soft tissues around left eye brow, size 7*6cm, bone is exposed

flair chest, broken 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 ribs on the right side, two fracture lines

open wound on the right side with exposed bone, 8*6cm in size

Both Zolotarev and Dubinina have an interesting pattern of injuries. They are very similar in direction and force despite difference in shape, height and body composition of the two. This would suggest that whatever caused these injuries was not a single uniform event.

Aleksandr Kolevatov

lack of soft tissues around eyes, eyebrows are missing, skull bones are exposed

broken nose

open wound behind ear, size 3*1.5cm

deformed neck

Nikolay Thibeaux-Brignolle

multiple fractures to the temporal bone, with extensions to the frontal and sphenoid bones

bruise on the upper lip on the left side

hemorrhage on the lower forearm, size 10*12cm

Vozrojdenniy, who undertook the autopsy, excluded accidental fall on the rock as a possible cause for such a massive and unusual fracture. Some theorized that the shape might be due to pressure applied during alleged avalanche that hit unsuspected tourists while they slept in the tent. If Nikolay slept on a camera this sudden increase in pressure could leave a mark on his head, however the shape of the lens is round and the damage would have a more round shape. Another reason why some specialists refused this theory is a massive hemorrhage that would make Thibeaux- Brignolle unable to move on his own and leave the site of the tent. There was no signs of dragging on the snow and foot prints suggest that everyone in the group moved on their own two feet.


The tent is ripped from the inside. Initially this fact was overlooked, but a woman who worked for the police department laundry services clearly identified that the damage came from the inside. Further expertise proved her hypothesis to be correct.


Nine tourist leave the tent with little clothes while outside temperature dipped to -30°C (-22°F). Most of them lacked proper footwear. Warm clothes, boots are left inside the abandoned tent. Survivors go to extreme lengths to preserve themselves in their harsh conditions. They even cut the clothes of their dead friends to protect themselves. They even dig a den that does not save them. Thus the theory of "paradox undressing" has no support in the available facts.

One of the poles show signs of damage made by the knife.

Presence of radiation on the clothes that were worn by one of the members of the group (George (Yuri) Krivonischenko). The question remains. Who came up with this strange procedure and why was it even carried out on a first place? Reaction of the officials is also surprising. The tests were carried out between May 18 and May 25 of 1959. And on May 28th the case was closed. This is more than just peculiar given the circumstances.

Kolevatov kept a personal diary. Yuriy Yudin, the only survivor of the group, testified that it was with him on the last trip. The diary went missing.

Judging by the pictures of the group at least one of the cameras went missing.

Strange unidentified cloth "obmotki", an old school version of socks, was found near the bodies.

Missing tongue. Cause is unknown. What makes the fact more mysterious is lack of coherent explanation or description of the damage. Autopsy doesn't mention the state or nature of the surrounding tissues.

The bodies of the dead tourists show signs of unexplained damages including broken ribs, scrapes etc.

Semen Zolotarev introduces himself as "Alexander" to the group. In fact the common memorial to the group lists his name incorrectly.

Semen Zolotarev and George (Yuri) Krivonischenko are buried separately from the rest of the group in a cemetery that has officially been closed for several years.

Money, food, valuables like watches, alcohol and blankets remain in place.

Controversy surrounding investigation

Some researchers point out the following facts which were missed, perhaps ignored, by officials:

After the funerals, relatives of the deceased claimed that the skin of the victims had a strange orange tan and were completely grey haired.

A former investigating officer said, in a private interview, that his dosimeter had shown a high radiation level on Kholat Syakhl, and that this was the reason for the radiation found on the bodies. However, the source of the contamination was not found.

Another group of hikers (about 50 kilometers south of the accident) reported that they saw strange orange spheres in the night sky to the north (likely in the direction of Kholat Syakhl) at the same date as the accident happened. Similar "spheres" were observed in Ivdel and adjacent areas continually during the period of February to March 1959, by various independent witnesses (including the meteorology service and the military).

Some reconstructions of the victims' behavior suggest that they were blinded. The rescue team had seen that the victims broke damp and thick pine branches for the fire, even though there was good dry brushwood around.

Some reports suggested that much scrap metal was located in the area, leading to speculation that the military had utilized the area secretly and might be engaged in a cover-up.


In 1967, Sverdlovsk writer and journalist Yuri Yarovoi published the fiction novel "Of the Highest Rank of Complexity" which was inspired by this incident. Yarovoi had been involved in the search for Dyatlov's group and the inquest, including acting as an official photographer for the search campaign and in the initial stage of the investigation, and so had insight into the events. However, the book was written in the Soviet era when the details of the accident were kept secret, and so Yarovoi avoided revealing anything beyond the official position and well-known facts. The book romanticized the accident and had a much more optimistic end than the real events - only the group leader was found deceased. Yarovoi's colleagues say that he had two alternative versions of the novel, but both were declined by censorship. Unfortunately, since Yarovoi's death in 1980, all his archives including photos, diaries and manuscripts have been lost.

Some details of the tragedy became publicly available in 1990 due to publications and discussions in Sverdlovsk's regional press. One of the first authors was Sverdlovsk journalist Anatoly Guschin . Guschin reported that police officials gave him special permission to study the original files of the inquest and use these materials in his publications. He noticed, however, that a number of pages were excluded from the files, as was a mysterious "envelope" mentioned in the case materials list. At the same time, unofficial photocopies of the case parts started to circulate among other enthusiastic researchers.

Guschin summarized his studies in the book entitled "The Price of State Secrets is Nine Lives" . Some researchers criticized it due to its concentration on the speculative theory of a "Soviet secret weapon", but the publication aroused the public interest in the theory, stimulated by interest in paranormal. Indeed, many of those who remained silent for 30 years reported new facts about that accident. One of them was the former police officer Lev Ivanov , who led the official inquest in 1959.

In 1990 he published an article along with his admission that the investigation team had no rational explanation of the accident. He also reported that he received direct orders from high-ranking regional officials to dismiss the inquest and keep its materials secret after reporting that the team had seen "flying spheres". Ivanov personally believes in a paranormal explanation - specifically, UFOs.

In 2000, a regional TV company produced the documentary film "Dyatlov Pass" . With the help of the film crew, an Ekaterinburg writer, Anna Matveyeva , published the fiction/documentary novella of the same name. A large part of the book includes broad quotations from the official case, diaries of victims, interviews with searchers and other documentaries previously used for the film. The book details the everyday life and thoughts of a woman (an alter ego of the author herself) who attempts to resolve the case.

The Dyatlov Foundation has been founded in Ekaterinburg, with the help of Ural State Technical University, led by Yuri Kuntsevitch , a close friend of Igor Dyatlov and a member of the search team. The foundation's aim is to convince current Russian officials to reopen the investigation of the case, and solve it. Its other purpose is the upkeep of "the Dyatlov museum", to honour the memory of the dead hikers.

memorial-1.jpg   memorial-large-1.jpg

McCloskey, Keith Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident Book (The History Press Ltd, 1 July 2013


The Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013) or Untitled Renny Harlin Project Movie


Dyatlov Group Diary

The original diary of the group was discovered in the tent. Below is the last entry made.

January 31, 1959

Today the weather is a bit worse than the wind (west), snow (probably from pines) because the sky is perfectly clear. Came out relatively early (around 10am). Took the same beaten Mansi trail. So far we walked along the Mansi trail, which was passed by a deer hunter not long ago. We met his resting stop yesterday, apparently. Today was surprisingly good accommodations for the tent, air is warm and dry, despite the low temperature of -18C to -24C. The walking is especially hard today. Visibility is very low. We walk for 1.52 km (1 mile) per hour. We are forced to find new methods of clearing the path for the skis. The first member leaves his bag on the ground and walks forward, then he returns, rests for 10- 15 minutes with the group Thus we have a non- stop paving of the trail. It is especially hard for the second to move down the new trail with full gear on the back. We gradually leave the Auspii valley, the rise is continuous, but quiet smooth. We spend a night at the forest boundary. Wind is western, warm, penetrating. Snow- free spaces. We can't leave any of our provision to ease the ascend to the mountains. About 4pm. We must choose the place for the tent. Wind, some snow. Snow cover is 1.22 meters thick. Tired and exhausted we started to prepare the platform for the tent. Firewood is not enough. We didn't dig a hole for a fire. Too tired for that. We had supper right in the tent. It is hard to imagine such a comfort somewhere on the ridge, with a piercing wind, hundreds kilometers away from human settlements.

Igor Dyatlov (last record in the diary)

(31st January - Dyatlov group leaves some of their gear in a forest on a platform set high above ground (known as "labaz" or camp base).)

(1st February - The group leaves on the last day of their trip. They start out fairly late and walk for only 2.5 miles. They set a tent around 5pm on a slope of Kholat Syakhl just 10 miles from the Mount Otorten. They eat their last dinner between 6-7pm. Subsequent investigation showed that one or two of the members left the tent to urinate outside of the tent. Since Semen Zolotarev and Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle were better dressed it was suggested that it was the two men who left their shelter before something happened.)

Judging by photos they are well equipped and well protected. At least by the standards of that time. Low visibility due to wind and snow is an important aspect, since this could significantly impact the movement of the group. Hypothermia and confusion can set it much quicker in these conditions. Disorientation on familiar terrain can happen very quickly and might result in death of a an unlucky victim. Nevertheless Igor Dyatlov and his group set up a tent on a empty slope of the Kholat Syakhl mountain. Some searchers testified that there was no firewood present. Although other witnesses claim to see a wooden log abandoned in the tent. Whatever might be the case the tourists chose to sleep in the cold conditions. Later findings showed that they had started their dinner when something happened. This "something" still has people puzzled to this day.

This is the last picture that was made by a camera of the Dyatlov group. Some say someone accidentally snapped a picture after the tent was discovered. Others claim it was damaged. Some see a man with raised hands and something flashing or burning in the background. Many explanations have surfaced. There is no agreement on it nature though. What do you see?


Yuri Yudin, the sole survivor of the expedition, has stated, "If I had a chance to ask God just one question, it would be, 'What really happened to my friends that night?'"


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