The Dyatlov pass incident
On 28 January 1959 ten cross country skiers, eight men and two women, led by Igor Dyatlov, set off on a skiing expedition to Otorten Mountain in the northern Urals. The only surviving member, Yury Yudin, fell ill and had to leave the group. Little did he know at this time, it would be the last time he saw his friends alive.
Tents were pitched on the slopes of Otorten Mountain’s neighbour, Kholat-Syakhl at approximately 5 pm on 2 February. The site of the camp was unusual for an experienced cross-country skier, considering that it was out in the open, rather than in woodland nearby. Yury Yidin assumes that Dyatlov's decision was down to having practice at camping on a mountain slope.
Dyaltov had arranged to send a telegram back to the Ural Polytechnic Institute, where the skiers originated from, on February the 12th from the Ural town of Vizhai. At this time the group had expected to be back from their expedition. According to Yudin, Dyaltov had told him to expect the group to be a day or two late, just in case. However, no telegram was sent, and on February the 20th, the relatives of the skiers raised the alarm to the army and the police, who in turn launched a search and rescue team.
The rescuers found the camp on the 26th of February. Surprisingly it was completely abandoned. Even more alarming, was the fact that searchers found that all the skiers personal belongings, including their shoes, and cold weather gear, was still inside the their tents. The tent was half torn down, and partially covered with snow. There were some indications that the tent had been sliced open from the inside. There was no evidence of a struggle, yet it was apparently clear the skiers had left in a hurry.
9 sets of footprints were found in the metre or so of snow by investigators, which gave the impression that the only people present at the campsite were in fact those that were meant to be there. What was strange about this was that people wearing socks, one shoe, or no footwear at all made some of the tracks left.
At the edge of a nearby forest, approximately five hundred metres down the slope under a very large pine tree, the investigators found the first two bodies. Georgy Krivonischenko, and Yury Doroshenko, were barefoot and dressed in their underclothes, and it was determined they had died from hypothermia.
Broken branches around the base of the tree and the bodies indicated that one of them had climbed the tree. This was confirmed as broken branches up to five metres on the tree were found. Could they be searching for the camp, or other members of the group, or maybe something more sinister? It was also discovered that the pair had tried to start a fire, as charred remains of branches had been found.
The bodies of Igor Dyatlov, Zina Kolmogorova, and Rustem Slobodin were found facing towards the camp approximately half way between the forest and the camp. Officials determined that probably the trio, were attempting to return to the camp. Although Slobodin's skull had apparently been fractured, doctors determined that it wasn’t a fatal injury. Once again autopsies determined that these three all died of hypothermia.
Two months later after the discovery of the first five bodies the story becomes extremely bizarre. Under four metres of snow, in a ravine, and 75 metres away from the pine tree mentioned earlier the remaining four were found.
Nicolas Thibeaux-Brignollel, Alexander Zolotaryov, and Alexander Kolevatov, had all suffered serious injuries and traumatic deaths. Thibeaux-Brignollel's skull had been crushed, and Dubinina and Zolatarev had numerous broken ribs. All four of the skiers had died from massive internal injuries, however, the bodies showed no signs of external injury, including bruises or soft tissue damage. The most disturbing thing of all was that Ludmila Dubinina's tongue had been removed!!!
These four were far better dressed than the other five. It looked as if they had made it back to camp, or taken clothes from those that were deceased. Another point to be made was that there were high levels of radiation found within the clothes when they were tested.
Several months later, the case was closed, and the files were allegedly sent to a secret military archive. The investigators found no evidence of wrong doing against one another. Soon after the area was closed off for three years to skiers and other adventurers.
Most of the details of the tragedy were attempted to be hidden from public view. One of the reasons for this was that, according to head investigator Lev Ivanov, regional officials had been worried by reports of "flying spheres" from civilians, weather service employees and even the military in the area over February and March 1959. Strangest of all, the bodies of the skiers had orange skin and gray hair. Ivanov speculated that the spheres had something to do with the mysterious circumstances of the event.
Were these flying spheres the cause, or was it something more? What do you think?