dyatlov pass mystery

Have you ever heard of the Dyatlov Pass mystery?

If you haven’t, then you probably didn’t watch the horror movie The Dyatlov Pass Incident released in 2013. No worries though, you didn’t lose much because it is only partly based on the real events and explains the mysterious death of soviet hikers using one of the favorite Hollywood topics – monsters and zombies. Today, we won’t talk about this movie but will try to explore what actually happened on that frosty night of February 2, 1959.

The Story

dyatlov pass mystery map

The location of Dyatlov Pass on Google Maps

This is how the story goes: in January 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers started an expedition to Otorten Mountain in the northern Urals. Initially, there were 10 members in the group, but one of the hikers, Yuri Yudin, had a severe pain in the joints, which made him abandon the venture.

At the beginning of February, the group reached the Mount Kholat Syakh and when the weather got worse, they decided to set up a camp there. This is where they found their tragic death. In fact, this area has long been a subject of folklore and different creepy stories among the locals. Mansi people, who have been local to the region for many centuries, refer to this place as “the Mountain of the Dead.”

All nine hikers were students at the Ural Polytechnic Institute in Sverdlovsk (modern Ekaterinburg). The expedition was to end on February 12, and the hikers were to send a telegram to their families, so when it didn’t happen, their relatives reported them missing to the authorities right away.

The Tragedy at the Dyatlov Pass

The rescue efforts began shortly and on February 26, an abandoned campsite was found. As soon as the members of the search group saw it, they realized that something creepy and tragic had happened there. The tent appeared to be ripped apart from the inside, the hikers’ belongings were left over there and there also were barefoot footprints leading from the tent to the nearby forest. Everything looked like the hikers were forced to abandon the campsite in a hurry.

dyatlov pass mystery tent

The tent found on February 26

The bodies of Yuri Krivonischenko and Yuri Doroshenko were the first to be found. They were completely barefoot and had no clothes but underwear on them. It was established that the two hikers had attempted to make a fire and save themselves from the cold as there was a small construction of wood logs near the bodies.

Igor Dyatlov, who led the expedition, Zinaida Kolmogorova and Rustem Slobodin were next to be found. They were believed to have tried to move away from the forest and go back to the campsite. A later investigation also found that Slobodin had a fractured skull.

The other four bodies were discovered only two months later, and one of them, Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle, had his head caved in. Alexander Zolotarev and Lyudmila Dubinina had several broken ribs and Dubinina also had her tongue missing.

dyatlov pass mystery dubinina body

Lyudmila Dubinina’s body

What Caused the Terrible Death of the Nine Hikers?

Shortly after these mysterious events, the case was marked as top secret. In fact, the files were declassified only recently.

Hypothermia was the only cause of death medical examiners were certain about. The other cause was reported as an ‘unknown compelling force.’ The injuries some of the hikers had were very much alike to those of car crash victims, the examiners said.

All nine bodies were also found to contain abnormal amounts of radiation, which led to a weird orange color of their exposed skin.

Possible Explanations of the Dyatlov Pass Mystery

According to the files, there were witnesses who claimed that they had seen strange spherical objects over the campsite on that fatal night! No need to say that this claim gave a basis for all kinds of UFO theories which blamed aliens for the creepy death of the hikers.

dyatlov pass mystery 33th frame

The mysterious 33th frame from Yuri Krivonischenko’s camera: some experts believe that it was simply light damaged while others think that it captures an unknown object

One of the most popular conspiracy theories suggests that there was a secret military testing in the area and the unfortunate students died as a result of a nuclear weapons test. This version is mainly based on the fact that the levels of radiation in the bodies were high for an unknown reason.

According to more conservative explanations, the tragedy was caused by some sort of natural phenomena. Those include avalanche, hurricane and even ball lightning (which could also explain the spherical objects witnessed on that night).

One of the most recent versions suggests that the hikers were affected by infrasound, which is a low-frequency sound that is proven to have detrimental effects on the human brain. A UK study found that infrasonic tone causes such things as anxiety, extreme sorrow, nervous feelings of revulsion or fear. At the same time, the human ear cannot hear these sound frequencies – a person just loses connection with reality and goes crazy. What if this is what made the hikers abandon their campsite in such a hurry? Supporters of this theory claim that infrasound could have been caused by fierce winds in the mountains.

dyatlov pass

Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle, Luda Dubinina, Semyon Zolotarev and Zina Kolmogorova before the tragedy

All of these theories are intriguing, but till the present moment, they remain just that – theories. No one has yet managed to find a solid explanation for the Dyatlov Pass Mystery and it will probably long haunt the minds of people who wish to find out what killed the unfortunate hikers on that fatal night.


  1. https://www.rt.com/
  2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
  3. http://www.kp.ru/

Photo credit: Dyatlov Group Memorial Foundation

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Anna LeMind

Anna LeMind

Anna is the owner and lead editor of the website Learning-mind.com. She is passionate about learning new things and reflecting on thought-provoking ideas. She writes about science, psychology and other related topics. She is particularly interested in topics regarding introversion, consciousness and subconscious, perception, human mind's potential, as well as the nature of reality and the universe.