One of the Russia’s greatest mysteries took place in 1959. After all these years, the Dyatlov pass incident is shrouded in the veil of mystery.
The mysterious death of nine hikers is what made Dyatlov Pass in Russia’s Ural Mountains infamous. The causes of their deaths are still unknown while the case is surrounded with controversy.
The Dyatlov pass was named after the leader of the hiking group that went missing, Igor Dyatlov. The group consisted of graduate students from of the Ural Polytechnic Institute.
Their plan was to trek 350 kilometers on skis through the forests and Northern Urals to Mount Otorten (which is translated from the local Mansi language as ‘Don’t go There’). Initially there were 10 people in the group, but one of the hikers fell ill and was forced to abandon the venture.
On February 12, 1959 the nine failed to report to the scheduled end-point at a village called Vizhay. As a result of rescue efforts, the group’s tent was found on the slope of the Mount Kholat Syakhl (“Mountain of the Dead” in Mansi) on February 26. Investigators later determined that tent had been was cut with a sharp object from the inside.
The skiers also left all their belongings in the tent while apparently trying to urgently flee the campsite. After following footprints down the hill for about 1.5 km – some of those fleeing were wearing only socks, some were even barefoot – the search party found five bodies.
Some of the hikers were wearing only underwear and their bodies showed signs of struggle such as fractured skulls and broken ribs. One of the women had her tongue missing. The search for the remaining four travelers who were located further into the woods took more than two months.
The Soviet criminal investigation in 1959 failed to establish the causes of the incident. The final report said that an “unknown compelling force” killed the people.
The incident which remains one of the most chilling unsolved mysteries of the 20th century sparked many theories in which investigators attempted to rebuild the chronology of events. The numerous explanations put forward included an avalanche, military tests seen by the hikers that the government was trying to hide, a hostile encounter with an unknown creature, or paranormal activity.
The mystery of the Dyatlov Pass incident has inspired filmmakers to make a science fiction horror movie entitled ‘Devil’s Pass’ where five students investigate the incident.