Dyatlov Pass incident

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Dyatlov Pass incident
Памятник дятловцам на Михайловском кладбище.jpg
The group's tomb at the Mikhailovskoe Cemetery in Yekaterinburg, Russia
Native name Гибель тургруппы Дятлова
Date1–2 February 1959
VenueDyatlov Pass
LocationKholat Syakhl, northern Urals, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Coordinates61°45′17″N 59°27′46″E / 61.75472°N 59.46278°E / 61.75472; 59.46278Coordinates: 61°45′17″N 59°27′46″E / 61.75472°N 59.46278°E / 61.75472; 59.46278
TypeMultiple deaths
ParticipantsSki hikers from Ural Polytechnical Institute
OutcomeArea closed for three years
Deaths9 dead from hypothermia and physical trauma

The Dyatlov Pass incident (Russian: Гибель тургруппы Дятлова) was an event in which nine Russian hikers died in the northern Ural Mountains between 1 and 2 February 1959, in uncertain circumstances. The experienced trekking group, who were all from the Ural Polytechnical Institute, had established a camp on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl, in an area now named in honour of the group's leader, Igor Dyatlov. During the night, something caused them to tear their way out of their tents and flee the campsite while inadequately dressed for the heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures.

After the group's bodies were discovered, an investigation by Soviet authorities determined that six had died from hypothermia while the other three showed signs of physical trauma. One victim had a fractured skull; two others had major chest fractures, one body was missing both its eyes, and one was missing a tongue. The investigation concluded that a "compelling natural force" had caused the deaths. Numerous theories have been put forward to account for the unexplained deaths, including animal attacks, hypothermia, avalanche, katabatic winds, infrasound-induced panic, military involvement, or some combination of these.

Russia opened a new investigation into the incident in 2019, and its conclusions were presented in July 2020: that the cause of death was hypothermia due to a combination of an avalanche, forcing the group to leave their camp, combined with low visibility. Andrey Kuryakov, deputy head of the regional prosecutor's office, said: “It was a heroic struggle. There was no panic. But they had no chance to save themselves under the circumstances.”[1]


In 1959, a group was formed for a skiing expedition across the northern Urals in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Soviet Union. According to Prosecutor Tempalov, documents that were found in the tent of the expedition suggest that the expedition was named for the 21st Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and was possibly dispatched by the local Komsomol organisation.[2] Igor Dyatlov, a 23-year-old radio engineering student at the Ural Polytechnical Institute (Уральский политехнический институт, УПИ; now Ural Federal University) was the leader who assembled a group of nine others for the trip, most of whom were fellow students and peers at the university.[3] Each member of the group, which consisted of eight men and two women, was an experienced Grade II-hiker with ski tour experience, and would be receiving Grade III certification upon their return.[4] At the time, this was the highest certification available in the Soviet Union, and required candidates to traverse 300 kilometres (190 mi).[4] The route was designed by Dyatlov's group to reach the far northern regions of Sverdlovsk Oblast and the upper-streams of the Lozva river.[5] The route was approved by the Sverdlovsk city route commission. This was a division of the Sverdlovsk Committee of Physical Culture and Sport and they confirmed the group of 10 people on January 8th, 1959.[5] The goal of the expedition was to reach Gora Otorten (Гора Отортен), a mountain 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) north of the site where the incident occurred. This route undertaken in February was estimated as a Category III, the most difficult time to traverse.

On 23 January 1959 the Dyatlov group was issued their route book which listed their course as following the No.5 trail. At that time, the Sverdlovsk City Committee of Physical Culture and Sport listed approval for 11 people.[5] The 11th person was listed as Semyon Zolotaryov who was previously certified to go with another expedition of similar difficulty (the Sogrin expedition group).[5] The Dyatlov group left the Sverdlovsk city (today Yekaterinburg) on the same day they received the route book.

Members of expedition
Name (Romanization) Russian name (lit.) Birthdate Age Sex Cause of death Ref.
Igor Alekseyevich Dyatlov Игорь Алексеевич Дятлов 13 January 1936 23 Male Hypothermia [6]
Yuri Nikolayevich Doroshenko Юрий Николаевич Дорошенко 29 January 1938 21 Male Hypothermia [6]
Lyudmila Alexandrovna Dubinina Людмила Александровна Дубинина 12 May 1938 20 Female Internal bleeding from severe chest trauma [7][6]
Georgiy (Yuri)[a] Alexeyevich Krivonischenko Георгий (Юрий) Алексеевич Кривонищенко 7 February 1935 23 Male Hypothermia [6]
Alexander Sergeyevich Kolevatov Александр Сергеевич Колеватов 16 November 1934 24 Male Hypothermia [6]
Zinaida Alekseevna Kolmogorova Зинаида Алексеевна Колмогорова 12 January 1937 22 Female Hypothermia [6]
Rustem Vladimirovich Slobodin Рустем Владимирович Слободин 11 January 1936 23 Male Hypothermia [6]
Nikolai Vladimirovich Thibeaux-Brignolles Николай Владимирович Тибо-Бриньоль 5 July 1935 23 Male Fatal skull injury [b]
Semyon (Alexander)[c] Alekseevich Zolotaryov Семён (Александр) Алексеевич Золотарёв 2 February 1921 38 Male Severe chest trauma [9]
Yuri Yefimovich Yudin Юрий Ефимович Юдин 19 July 1937 21 Male Left expedition on 28 January due to illness; died 27 April 2013 at the age of 75 [10]


Dyatlov Pass incident is located in Russia
Dyatlov Pass
Dyatlov Pass
Location of the pass in Russia
41st precinct
41st precinct
2nd Severnyi
2nd Severnyi
Some points of the route

The group arrived by train at Ivdel (Ивдель), a town at the centre of the northern province of Sverdlovsk Oblast in the early morning hours of January 25, 1959.[11] They then took a truck to Vizhai (Вижай), a lorry village that is the last inhabited settlement to the north.[12] While spending the night in Vizhai, the skiers purchased and ate loaves of bread to keep their energy levels up for the following day's hike.[13]

On January 27, they began their trek toward Gora Otorten. On January 28, one member, Yuri Yudin, who suffered from several health ailments (including rheumatism and a congenital heart defect) turned back due to knee and joint pain that made him unable to continue the hike.[14][15] The remaining nine hikers continued the trek.

Diaries and cameras found around their last campsite made it possible to track the group's route up to the day preceding the incident.[16] On 31 January, the group arrived at the edge of a highland area and began to prepare for climbing. In a wooded valley, they cached surplus food and equipment that would be used for the trip back. The next day, 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, toward the top of Kholat Syakhl. When they realised their mistake, the group decided to set up camp there on the slope of the mountain, rather than move 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) downhill to a forested area that would have offered some shelter from the weather.[15] Yudin speculated, "Dyatlov probably did not want to lose the altitude they had gained, or he decided to practice camping on the mountain slope."[15]

Search and discovery[edit]

Before leaving, Dyatlov had agreed he would send a telegram to their sports club as soon as the group returned to Vizhai. It was expected that this would happen no later than 12 February, but Dyatlov had told Yudin, before he departed from the group, that he expected it to be longer. 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. On 20 February, the travellers' relatives demanded a rescue operation and the head of the institute sent the first rescue groups, consisting of volunteer students and teachers.[15] Later, the army and militsiya forces became involved, with planes and helicopters ordered to join the operation.

On 26 February, the searchers found the group's abandoned and badly damaged tent on Kholat Syakhl. The campsite baffled the search party. Mikhail Sharavin, the student who found the tent, said "the tent was half torn down and covered with snow. It was empty, and all the group's belongings and shoes had been left behind."[15] Investigators said the tent had been cut open from inside. 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 woods, on the opposite side of the pass, 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) to the north-east.[17] After 500 metres (1,600 ft) these tracks were covered with snow. At the forest's edge, under a large Siberian pine, the searchers found the visible remains of a small fire. There were the first two bodies, those of Krivonischenko and Doroshenko, shoeless and dressed only in underwear. The branches on the tree were broken up to five meters high, suggesting that one of the skiers had climbed up to look for something, perhaps the camp. Between the pine and the camp, the searchers found three more corpses: Dyatlov, Kolmogorova, and Slobodin, who died in poses suggesting that they were attempting to return to the tent.[15] They were found at distances of 300, 480, and 630 metres (980, 1,570, and 2,070 ft) from the tree.

Finding the remaining four travellers took more than two months.[17] They were finally found on 4 May under four metres (13 ft) of snow in a ravine 75 metres (246 ft) further into the woods from the pine tree. Three of the four were better dressed than the others, and there were signs that those who had died first had their clothes relinquished to the others. Dubinina was wearing Krivonishenko's burned, torn trousers and her left foot and shin were wrapped in a torn jacket.[18]


A view of the tent as the rescuers found it on 26 February 1959: the tent had been cut open from inside, and most of the skiers had fled in socks or barefoot

A legal inquest started immediately after the first five bodies were found. A medical examination found no injuries that might have led to their deaths, and it was concluded that they had all died of hypothermia. Slobodin had a small crack in his skull, but it was not thought to be a fatal wound.[19]

An examination of the four bodies found in May shifted the narrative of the incident. Three of the hikers had fatal injuries: Thibeaux-Brignolles[19] had major skull damage, and Dubinina and Zolotaryov had major chest fractures.[20] According to Boris Vozrozhdenny, the force required to cause such damage would have been extremely high, comparable to that of a car crash. Notably, the bodies had no external wounds associated with the bone fractures, as if they had been subjected to a high level of pressure.[17]

All four bodies found at the bottom of the creek in a running stream of water had soft tissue damage to their head and face. For example, Dubinina was missing her tongue, eyes, part of the lips, as well as facial tissue and a fragment of skullbone,[21] while Zolotaryov had his eyeballs missing,[22] and Aleksander Kolevatov his eyebrows.[23] V. A. Vozrozhdenny, the forensic expert performing the post-mortem examination, judged that these injuries happened post-mortem due to the location of the bodies in a stream.

There was initial speculation that the indigenous Mansi people, reindeer herders local to the area, had attacked and murdered the group for encroaching upon their lands. Several Mansi were interrogated,[24] but the investigation indicated that the nature of the deaths did not support this hypothesis: only the hikers' footprints were visible, and they showed no sign of hand-to-hand struggle.[15]

Although the temperature was very low, around −25 to −30 °C (−13 to −22 °F) with a storm blowing, the dead were only partially dressed. Some had only one shoe, while others wore only socks.[15] Some were found wrapped in snips of ripped clothes that seemed to have been cut from those who were already dead.

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

  • Six of the group members died of hypothermia and three of 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.
  • High levels of radiation were found on only 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".[15]
  • Released documents contained no information about the condition of the skiers' internal organs.
  • There were no survivors.

At the time the verdict was that the group members had died because of a compelling natural force.[25] The inquest officially ceased in May 1959 as a result of the absence of a guilty party. The files were sent to a secret archive.[15]

In 1997, it was revealed that the negatives from Krivonischenko's camera were kept in the private archive of one of the investigators, Lev Ivanov. The film material was donated by Ivanov's daughter to the Dyatlov Foundation. The diaries of the hiking party fell into Russia's public domain in 2009.

On 12 April 2018, Zolotarev's remains were exhumed on the initiative of journalists of the Russian tabloid newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. Contradictory results were obtained: one of the experts said that the character of the injuries resembled a person knocked down by a car, and the DNA analysis did not reveal any similarity to the DNA of living relatives. In addition, it turned out that Zolotarev's name was not on the list of those buried at the Ivanovskoye cemetery. Nevertheless, the reconstruction of the face from the exhumed skull matched postwar photographs of Zolotarev, although journalists expressed suspicions that another person was hiding under Zolotarev's name after World War II.[26][27][28]

In February 2019, Russian authorities reopened the investigation into the incident, although only three possible explanations were being considered: an avalanche, a "snow slab" avalanche, or a hurricane. The possibility of a crime has been discounted.[29]

Related reports[edit]

  • Twelve-year-old Yury Kuntsevich, who later became the head of the Yekaterinburg-based Dyatlov Foundation, attended five of the hikers' funerals. He recalled that their skin had a "deep brown tan".[15][30]
  • Another group of hikers (about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of the incident) reported that they saw strange orange spheres in the sky to the north on the night of the incident.[15] Similar spheres were observed in Ivdel and adjacent areas continually during the period from February to March 1959, by various independent witnesses (including the meteorology service and the military). These sightings were not noted in the 1959 investigation, and the various witnesses came forward years later.[15]


Tomb of the deceased at Mikhailovskoe Cemetery in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Anatoly Gushchin (Russian: Анатолий Гущин) summarized his research in the book The Price of State Secrets Is Nine Lives (Цена гостайны – девять жизней, Sverdlovsk, 1990)[25] Some researchers criticised the work for its concentration on the speculative theory of a Soviet secret weapon experiment, but its publication led to public discussion, stimulated by interest in the paranormal. Indeed, many of those who had remained silent for thirty years reported new facts about the accident. One of them was the former police officer, Lev Ivanov (Лев Иванов), who led the official inquest in 1959. In 1990, he published an article that included his admission that the investigation team had no rational explanation for the incident. He also stated that, after his team reported that they had seen flying spheres, he then received direct orders from high-ranking regional officials to dismiss this claim.[31][32]

In 2000, a regional television company produced the documentary film The Mystery of Dyatlov Pass (Тайна перевала Дятлова). With the help of the film crew, a Yekaterinburg writer, Anna Matveyeva (Russian: Анна Матвеева), published a docudrama novella of the same name.[33] A large part of the book includes broad quotations from the official case, diaries of victims, interviews with searchers and other documentaries collected by the film-makers. The narrative line of the book details the everyday life and thoughts of a modern woman (an alter ego of the author herself) who attempts to resolve the case. Despite its fictional narrative, Matveyeva's book remains the largest source of documentary materials ever made available to the public regarding the incident. Also, the pages of the case files and other documentaries (in photocopies and transcripts) are gradually being published on a web forum for enthusiastic researchers.[34]

The Dyatlov Foundation was founded in 1999 at Yekaterinburg, with the help of Ural State Technical University, led by Yuri Kuntsevitch (Юрий Кунцевич). The foundation's stated aim is to continue investigation of the case and to maintain the Dyatlov Museum to preserve the memory of the dead hikers.[35] On 1 July 2016, 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.[36]



On July 11 2020, Andrey Kuryakov, deputy head of the Urals Federal District directorate of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, announced an avalanche to be the "official cause of death" for the Dyatlov group in 1959.[37]

Original explanation[edit]

Reviewing the sensationalist "Yeti" hypothesis (see below), American skeptic author Benjamin Radford suggests an avalanche as more plausible:

that the group woke up in a panic (...) and cut their way out the tent either because an avalanche had covered the entrance to their tent or because they were scared that an avalanche was imminent (...) (better to have a potentially repairable slit in a tent than risk being buried alive in it under tons of snow). They were poorly clothed because they had been sleeping, and ran to the safety of the nearby woods where trees would help slow oncoming snow. In the darkness of night, they got separated into two or three groups; one group made a fire (hence the burned hands) while the others tried to return to the tent to recover their clothing since the danger had passed. But it was too cold, and they all froze to death before they could locate their tent in the darkness. At some point, some of the clothes may have been recovered or swapped from the dead, but at any rate, the group of four whose bodies was most severely damaged were caught in an avalanche and buried under 4 meters (13 ft) of snow (more than enough to account for the 'compelling natural force' the medical examiner described). Dubinina's tongue was likely removed by scavengers and ordinary predation.[38]

Evidence contradicting the avalanche theory includes:[39][40]

  • The location of the incident did not have any obvious signs of an avalanche having taken place. An avalanche would have left certain patterns and debris distributed over a wide area. The bodies found within a month of the event were covered with a very shallow layer of snow and, had there been an avalanche of sufficient strength to sweep away the second party, these bodies would have been swept away as well; this would have caused more serious and different injuries in the process and would have damaged the tree line.
  • Over 100 expeditions to the region were held since the incident, and none of them ever reported conditions that might create an avalanche. A study of the area using up-to-date terrain-related physics revealed that the location was entirely unlikely for such an avalanche to have occurred. The "dangerous conditions" found in another nearby area (which had significantly steeper slopes and cornices) were observed in April and May when the snowfalls of winter were melting. During February, when the incident occurred, there were no such conditions.
  • An analysis of the terrain and the slope shows that even if there could have been a very specific avalanche that found its way around, its path would have gone past the tent. It had collapsed from the side but not in a horizontal direction.
  • Dyatlov was an experienced skier and the much older Zolotaryov was studying for his Masters Certificate in ski instruction and mountain hiking. Neither of these two men would have been likely to camp anywhere in the path of a potential avalanche.
  • Footprint patterns leading away from the tent were inconsistent with someone, let alone a group of 9 people, running in panic from either real or imagined danger. All the footprints leading away from the tent and towards the woods were consistent with individuals who were walking at a normal pace.

Repeated 2015 investigation[edit]

A review of the 1959 investigation's evidence completed in 2015–2019 by experienced investigators from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) on request of the families confirmed the avalanche with several important details added. First of all, the ICRF investigators (one of them an experienced alpinist) confirmed that the weather on the night of the tragedy was very harsh, with wind speeds up to hurricane force, 20–30 metres per second (45–67 mph), a snowstorm and temperatures reaching −40 °C. These factors weren't considered by the 1959 investigators who arrived at the scene of the accident three weeks later when the weather had much improved and any remains of the snow slide settled down and had been covered with fresh snowfall. The harsh weather at the same time played a critical role in the events of the tragic night, which has been reconstructed as follows:[41][42]

  • On 1 February the group arrives at the Kholat Syakhl mountain and erects a large, 9-person tent on an open slope, without any natural barriers, such as forests. On the day and a few preceding days, a heavy snowfall continued, with strong wind and frost.
  • The group, traversing through the slope and digging in the tent into the snow weakens the snow base. During the night the snowfield above the tent starts to slide down slowly under the weight of the new snow, gradually pushing on the tent fabric, starting from the entrance. The group wakes up and starts evacuation in panic, with only some able to put on warm clothes. Since the entrance was blocked, the group escapes through a hole cut in the tent fabric and descends the slope to find a place perceived as safe from the avalanche only 1500 m down, at the forest border.
  • Due to some of the members having very incomplete clothes, the group splits. Two of the group, only in their underwear and pajamas, were found at the Siberian pine tree, near a fire pit. Their bodies were found first and confirmed to have died from hypothermia.
  • Three hikers, including Dyatlov, attempted to climb back to the tent, possibly to get sleeping bags. They had better clothes than those at the fire pit, but still quite light and their footwear was incomplete. Their bodies were found at various places ranging 300–600 m from the campfire, in poses suggesting they fell of exhaustion while trying to climb in deep snow in extremely cold weather.
  • The remaining four, equipped with warm clothes and footwear, were trying to find or build a better camping place in the forest further down the slope. Their bodies were found 70 m from the fireplace, under several meters thick layer of snow and with traumas indicating they fell into a snow hole formed above a stream. These bodies were only found after two months.

According to the ICRF investigators, the factors contributing to the tragedy were extremely bad weather and lack of experience of the group leader in such conditions, which led to the selection of a dangerous camping place. After the snow slide, another mistake of the group was to split up, rather than building a temporary camping place down in the forest and trying to survive through the night. Negligence of the 1959 investigators contributed to their report creating more questions than answers and inspiring numerous conspiracy theories.[43][42]

Katabatic wind[edit]

In 2019, a Swedish-Russian expedition was made to the site, and after investigations, they proposed that a violent katabatic wind is a likely explanation for the incident.[44] Katabatic winds are somewhat rare events, and can be extremely violent. They were implicated in a 1978 case at Anaris Mountain in Sweden, where eight hikers were killed and one was seriously injured in the aftermath of katabatic wind.[45] The topography of these locations were noted to be very similar according to the expedition.[44]

A sudden katabatic wind would have made it impossible to remain in the tent, and the most rational course of action would be for the hikers to cover the tent with snow and seek shelter among the treeline.[44] There was also a torch left turned on on top of the tent, possibly left there intentionally so the hikers could find their way back to the tent once the winds subsided. The expedition proposed that the group of hikers constructed two bivouac shelters, one of which collapsed, leaving four of the hikers buried with the violent injuries observed.[44]


Another hypothesis popularised by Donnie Eichar's 2013 book Dead Mountain is that wind going around Kholat Syakal created a Kármán vortex street, which can produce infrasound capable of inducing panic attacks in humans.[46][47] According to Eichar's theory, the infrasound generated by the wind as it passed over the top of the Holatchahl mountain was responsible for causing physical discomfort and mental distress in the hikers.[46] Eichar claims that, because of their panic, the hikers were driven to leave the tent by whatever means necessary, and fled down the slope. By the time they were further down the hill, they would have been out of the infrasound's path and would have regained their composure, but in the darkness would be unable to return to their shelter.[46] The traumatic injuries suffered by three of the victims were the result of their stumbling over the ledge of a ravine in the darkness and landing on the rocks at the bottom.

Military tests[edit]

Speculation exists that the campsite fell within the path of a Soviet parachute mine exercise. This theory alleges that the hikers, woken by loud explosions, fled the tent in a shoeless panic and found themselves unable to return for supply retrieval. After some members froze to death attempting to endure the bombardment, others commandeered their clothing only to be fatally injured by subsequent parachute mine concussions. There are indeed records of parachute mines being tested by the Soviet military in the area around the time the hikers were there.[48] Parachute mines detonate while still in the air rather than upon striking the Earth's surface and produce signature injuries similar to those experienced by the hikers: heavy internal damage with comparably less external trauma. The theory coincides with reported sightings of glowing, orange orbs floating or falling in the sky within the general vicinity of the hikers and allegedly photographed by them,[49] potentially military aircraft or descending parachute mines. This theory (among others) uses scavenging animals to explain Dubinina's injuries.[50] Some speculate the bodies were unnaturally manipulated due to characteristic livor mortis markings discovered during an autopsy, as well as burns to hair and skin. Photographs of the tent allegedly show that it was erected incorrectly, something the experienced hikers were unlikely to have done.[51]

A similar theory alleges the testing of radiological weapons and is partly based on the discovery of radioactivity on some of the clothing as well as the bodies being described by relatives as having orange skin and grey hair. However, radioactive dispersal would have affected all of the hikers and equipment instead of just some of it, and the skin and hair discoloration can be explained by a natural process of mummification after three months of exposure to the cold and winds. Furthermore, the initial suppression of files regarding the group's disappearance by Soviet authorities is sometimes mentioned as evidence of a cover-up, but the concealment of information regarding domestic incidents was standard procedure in the USSR and therefore far from peculiar. And by the late 1980s, all Dyatlov files had been released in some manner.[52]

Paradoxical undressing[edit]

International Science Times posited that the hikers' deaths were caused by hypothermia, which can induce a behavior known as paradoxical undressing in which hypothermic subjects remove their clothes in response to perceived feelings of burning warmth.[53] It is undisputed that six of the nine hikers died of hypothermia. However, others in the group appear to have acquired additional clothing (from those who had already died), which suggests that they were of a sound enough mind to try to add layers.


Keith McCloskey, who has researched the incident for many years and has appeared in several TV documentaries on the subject, traveled to the Dyatlov Pass in 2015 with Yury Kuntsevich of the Dyatlov Foundation and a group. At the Dyatlov Pass he noted:

  • There were wide discrepancies in distances quoted between the two possible locations of the snow shelter where Dubinina, Kolevatov, Zolotarev, and Thibault-Brignolles were found. One location was approximately 80 to 100 meters from the pine tree where the bodies of Doroshenko and Krivonischenko were found and the other suggested location was so close to the tree that anyone in the snow shelter could have spoken to those at the tree without raising their voices to be heard. This second location also has a rock in the stream where Dubinina's body was found and is the more likely location of the two. However, the second suggested location of the two has a topography that is closer to the photos taken at the time of the search in 1959.[54]
  • The location of the tent near the ridge was found to be too close to the spur of the ridge for any significant build-up of snow to cause an avalanche. Furthermore, the prevailing wind blowing over the ridge had the effect of blowing snow away from the edge of the ridge on the side where the tent was. This further reduced any build-up of snow to cause an avalanche. This aspect of the lack of snow on the top and near the top of the ridge was pointed out by Sergey Sogrin in 2010.[55]

McCloskey also noted:

  • Lev Ivanov's boss, Evgeny Okishev (Deputy Head of the Investigative Department of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Prosecution Office), was still alive in 2015 and had given an interview to former Kemerovo prosecutor Leonid Proshkin in which Okishev stated that he was arranging another trip to the Pass to fully investigate the strange deaths of the last four bodies when Deputy Prosecutor General Urakov arrived from Moscow and ordered the case shut down.[56]
  • Evgeny Okishev also stated in his interview with Leonid Proshkin that Klinov, head of the Sverdlovsk Prosecutor's Office, was present at the first post mortems in the morgue and spent three days there, something Okishev regarded as highly unusual and the only time, in his experience, it had happened.[56]

Donnie Eichar, who investigated and made a documentary about the incident, evaluated several other theories that are deemed unlikely or have been discredited:[52]

  • They were attacked by Mansi or other local tribesmen.
The local tribesmen were known to be peaceful and there was no track evidence of anyone approaching the tent.
  • They were attacked and chased by animal wildlife.
There were no animal tracks and the group would not have abandoned the relative security of the tent.
  • High winds blew one member away, and the others attempted to rescue the person.
A large experienced group would not have behaved like that, and winds strong enough to blow away people with such force would have also blown away the tent.
  • An argument, possibly related to a romantic encounter that left some of them only partially clothed, led to a violent dispute.
About this, Eichar states that it is "highly implausible. By all indications, the group was largely harmonious, and sexual tension was confined to platonic flirtation and crushes. There were no drugs present and the only alcohol was a small flask of medicinal alcohol, found intact at the scene. The group had even sworn off cigarettes for the expedition." Furthermore, a fight could not have left the massive injuries that one body had suffered.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Popular interest in Russia was revived in the 1990s in the wake of Anatoly Gushchin's (Анатолий Гущин) 1990 novel, The Price of State Secrets Is Nine Lives (Цена гостайны – девять жизней).[25]
  • In 2000, a regional television company produced the documentary film, with a follow-up journal-style novella based on a fictionalized account of the incident released in 2005.[33]
  • In 2015, Russian band Kauan released the album Sorni Nai which attempts to reconstruct the events that led up to the incident.[57]
  • The Dyatlov Pass Incident (a.k.a. Devil's Pass), a film directed by Renny Harlin, was released on 28 February 2013 in Russia and 23 August 2013 in the U.S. It follows five American students retracing the steps of the victims, but, being a work of fiction, makes several changes in describing the initial events, e.g., inverting names of victims.[58]
  • The incident figures prominently in the 2012 novel City of Exiles by Alec Nevala-Lee.[59]
  • Russia's Mystery Files: Episode 2 – The Dyatlov Pass Incident, 28 November 2014, National Geographic.[60]
  • In 2014, a Discovery Channel special "Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives" purported to examine the incident in relation to the myth of the Yeti.[61]
  • The 2015, Polish horror video game Kholat is inspired by the Dead Mountain incident, in which the player goes to Dyatlov Pass in order to trace the steps of the lost expedition, and begins to uncover "the true cause" of the hikers' deaths.[62]


  1. ^ The name of Krivonischenko was Georgiy, but he was called "Yura" by his friends
  2. ^ Eichar states that Thibeaux-Brignolles' birthdate was 5 June 1935, while the Dyatlov Pass reference website states he was born on 8 July.[8] Data from Ancestry.com alternatively lists his birthdate as 5 July based on grave records; it is possible Eichar's 5 June claim is a mistake for 5 July.
  3. ^ The real name of Zolotarev was Semyon, but for unknown reasons he asked to be called "Sasha" and therefore appears under the name Alexander in many memoirs, documents and studies. (Keith 2013, Ch. "The Dyatlov group and Mount Otorten")

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Devitt, Polina (11 July 2020). "Russia blames avalanche for 1959 Urals mountain tragedy, RIA agency reports". Reuters. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  2. ^ Alessia Ritorina. тургруппы Дятлова посвящён XXI съезду КПСС. What awaits Dyatlov beyond the pass of fate. Volume 3, Investigation. Litres, Dec 20, 2018
  3. ^ Eicher 2013, p. 31.
  4. ^ a b Eicher 2013, p. 32.
  5. ^ a b c d Information about the Dyatlov group expedition (Информация о походе гр. Дятлова). Hibinaud.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Eichar 2013, pp. 265.
  7. ^ "Autopsy report of Dubinina".
  8. ^ "Nikolai Vladimirovich Thibeaux-Brignolles (Kolya)". Dyatlov-Pass. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  9. ^ Eichar 2013, pp. 266.
  10. ^ Дарья Кезина (27 April 2013). "Умер последний дятловец". Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  11. ^ Eichar 2013, p. 90.
  12. ^ "Yuri Yudin". The Telegraph. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  13. ^ Eichar 2013, p. 143.
  14. ^ Eichar 2013, p. 34.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Osadchuk, Svetlana (19 February 2008). "Mysterious Deaths of 9 Skiers Still Unresolved". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  16. ^ Mead, Derek (5 September 2017). "Russia's Dyatlov Pass Incident, the Strangest Unsolved Mystery of the Last Century". Vice. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  17. ^ a b c "The Documentary Podcast: The Dyatlov Pass mystery". BBC. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  18. ^ Anderson, Launton (9 January 2019). Death of Nine: The Dyatlov Pass Mystery. ASIN B07MSFVWS5.
  19. ^ a b Eichar 2013, p. 221.
  20. ^ Eichar 2013, pp. 221, 262.
  21. ^ "Акт исследования трупа Дубининой – hibinaud". google.com.
  22. ^ "Autopsy report of Zolotaryov".
  23. ^ "Autopsy report of Kolevatov".
  24. ^ Ash, Lucy (1 December 2019). "There were nine..." BBC News. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  25. ^ a b c Гущин Анатолий. Цена гостайны – девять жизней, изд-во "Уральский рабочий", Свердловск, 1990 (lit. Anatoly, Gushchin. The price of state secrets is nine lives, Izdatelstvo "Uralskyi Rabochyi", Sverdlovsk, 1990).
  26. ^ Gusel'nikov, Alexey (16 May 2018). Экспертиза ДНК: в могиле дятловца Семена Золотарева захоронен другой человек. URA.RU (in Russian). Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  27. ^ Мистика и тайны перевала Дятлова: Похоже, будто Семена Золотарева переехал автомобиль. Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian). 5 June 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  28. ^ Тайна перевала Дятлова: ДНК-экспертиза отрицает родство предполагаемого Семена Золотарева с его племянницей. Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian). 7 June 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  29. ^ "Russia reopens investigation into 60-year-old Dyatlov Pass mystery". cnn.com. 5 February 2019.
  30. ^ "I was 12 at that time, but I do remember the deep resonance that the accident had with the public, despite the authorities' efforts to keep relatives and investigators silent", said Yury Kuntsevich, head of the Yekaterinburg-based Dyatlov Foundation, which is trying to unravel the mystery.
  31. ^ Иванов Лев: "Тайна огненных шаров", "Ленинский путь", Кустанай, 22–24 ноября 1990 г. (Ivanov, Lev: "Enigma of the fireballs", Leninskyi Put, Kustanai, Nov 22–24 1990)
  32. ^ Eichar 2013, p. 229.
  33. ^ a b Анна, Матвеева. "Перевал Дятлова", "Урал" N12-2000, Екатеринбург (lit. Anna, Matveyeva. "Dyatlov pass", "Ural"#12-2000, Ekaterinburg)
  34. ^ Перевал Дятлова: форум по исследованию гибели тургруппы И. Дятлова [Dyatlov Pass: Forum Research death Dyatlova tour group I]. Pereval 1959 (in Russian). RU: Forum 24. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
  35. ^ Общая информация. Цели и задачи фонда.. Общественный фонд "Памяти группы Дятлова" (in Russian). 17 March 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  36. ^ Butler, Phil (22 July 2016). "1959 Dyatlov Pass Tragedy May Have Been a KGB Experiment". Our Russia. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  37. ^ Ryabikova, Victoria (12 July 2020). "Official cause of death of the Dyatlov group revealed". www.rbth.com. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  38. ^ Korbus, Jason; Nelson, Bobby (June 2014). "SFR 291: The Russian Yeti of Dyatlov Pass w/ Benjamin Radford". Strange Frequency Radio. Archived from the original on 5 September 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  39. ^ "Dyatlov Pass – Some Answers". Curious World. Curious Britannia Ltd. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  40. ^ Dunning, Brian (8 July 2008). "Skeptoid #108: Mystery at Dyatlov Pass". Skeptoid. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  41. ^ "«My opinion is that there are no mysteries in the case of the death of Dyatlov group»". Dyatlov Pass. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  42. ^ a b "Criminalist Shkryabach conclusion". Dyatlov Pass. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  43. ^ Криминалисты СКР раскрыли тайну гибели группы Дятлова. www.mk.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  44. ^ a b c d "The Swedish-Russian Dyatlov Expedition 2019". dyatlovpass.com. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  45. ^ Selander, Marie (24 February 2018). "Åtta omkom i landets svåraste fjällolycka – Anarisolyckan". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  46. ^ a b c Eichar 2013, pp. 246–9.
  47. ^ Zasky, Jason (1 February 2014). "Return to Dead Mountain". Failure magazine. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  48. ^ McCloskey 2013.
  49. ^ Laurén, Anna-Lena (13 October 2019). "Mysteriet i Ural gäckar än i dag". Hufvudstadsbladet (in Swedish). Helsingfors. pp. 24–28.
  50. ^ "Dead Mountain: The Untold Story Of The Dyatlov Pass Incident." Publishers Weekly 260.32 (2013): 46. Business Source Elite. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
  51. ^ Nat Geo. "Russia's Mystery Files". National Geographic Wild. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  52. ^ a b Dyatlov Pass: A Mystery Solved?, Spiked
  53. ^ Smith, Anthony (1 August 2012). "Dyatlov Pass Explained: How Science Could Solve Russia's Most Terrifying Unsolved Mystery". International Science Times. iScienceTimes. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018.
  54. ^ McCloskey 2020, pp. 52.
  55. ^ Sogrin, Sergey. "Was there any mystery in the Dyatlov Incident?". Uralsky Sledopyt. November 2010.
  56. ^ a b McCloskey 2020, pp. 145–166.
  57. ^ "Which Records Sounded the Best (and Worst) in 2015?". 2 January 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  58. ^ "Dyatlov Pass Incident, The". A Company Filmed Entertainment. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  59. ^ "City of Exiles". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  60. ^ "About Russia's Mystery Files Show – National Geographic Channel – UK". National Geographic Channel – Videos, TV Shows & Photos – UK. 18 October 2017.
  61. ^ "Discovery's Mountain of Mystery Mongering: The Mass Murdering Yeti – CSI". www.csicop.org. September 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  62. ^ "Kholat – an adventure-horror game inspired by true event known as Dyatlov Pass Incident". kholat.com.

Works cited[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • McCloskey, Keith Journey to Dyatlov Pass: An Explanation of the Mystery 2nd edition (CreateSpace 29 June 2020, ISBN 979-8657792676)
  • McCloskey, Keith Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident (The History Press Ltd, 1 July 2013, ISBN 978-0-7524-9148-6)
  • Eichar, Donnie Dead Mountain: The True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident (Chronicle Books, October 22, 2013, ISBN 1-4521-1274-6)
  • Irina Lobatcheva, Vladislav Lobatchev, Amanda Bosworth Dyatlov Pass Keeps Its Secret (Parallel Worlds' Books, August 30, 2013)
  • Oss, Svetlana Don't Go There: The Mystery of Dyatlov Pass (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform Dec 2015 ISBN 978-1517755591)
  • Anderson, Launton Death of Nine: The Dyatlov Pass Mystery (KDP Print 9 January 2019, ISBN 978-0-578-44522-9)

External links[edit]