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Modern Mysteries

Has the Dyatlov Pass mystery been solved ?

By T.K. Randall
January 29, 2021 · Comment icon 20 comments

The remains of the group's tent was found on the mountainside. Image Credit: Soviet investigators
Scientists believe that they have finally found an answer to one of the 20th Century's most enduring mysteries.
Considered to be one of the most chilling unsolved cases ever to come out of Russia, the Dyatlov Pass incident involved a group of nine students who went missing after going for a trek in the Ural Mountains. Led by 23-year-old Igor Dyatlov, they departed on January 23th, 1959 and were never seen alive again.

When rescue teams went to look for them they found the group's tent, which appeared to have been sliced open from the inside with a sharp instrument, on the slopes of Mount Kholat Syakhl.

The hikers' belongings were all strewn around the campsite and a trail of footprints indicated that they had got up and left in a hurry, some of them without any shoes or socks.

After following the trail for 1.5km the rescuers discovered five bodies, many exhibiting signs of physical trauma such as a cracked skull and broken ribs.

No sign of the other four members of the group could be found, however after an extensive search covering two months, rescuers eventually located their remains in nearby woodland.

A criminal investigation later blamed their deaths on an "unknown compelling force".

Now however, 62 years on from the incident, a new study published in the journal Communications Earth and Environment has put forward the theory that the hikers had died from an unusual form of small-scale 'delayed' avalanche.
The study was headed up by Johan Gaume - head of the Snow and Avalanche Simulation Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology - and geotechnical engineer Alexander Puzrin.

When the hikers cut into the snow to pitch their tent, the authors argue, the slope was destabilized. While there was no fresh snowfall that night, katabatic winds may have brought snow from higher up the mountains and deposited it on the slope, eventually causing it to give way.

This would explain the mysterious 9-hour delay between them setting up camp and the avalanche that ultimately ended their lives.

Other experts, including professional mountain climber Freddie Wilkinson, also remain convinced that this is what happened.

"I'm absolutely convinced that the tragedy was the result of wind and snow deposition, and the fact that they pitched camp in the lee of a ridge," he said.

"I've made this mistake in my mountaineering career more than once."

Ultimately however, we may never know for sure exactly what happened.

Source: National Geographic | Comments (20)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by White Crane Feather 3 years ago
I remeber a lengthy discussion about this years ago, and a bunch of us pulled up all kinds of resources. We concluded with an avalanche as well followed by a series of survival attempts where a tree had to be climbed to get wood to start a fire, clothing removed form those who had succumbed, and eventually one group seeking better shelter but succumbing to the elements and potentially tumbling down a nearby ridge. Then we pulled up some information on how small animals will scavenge the tungs out of the dead because that is last part of the body to freeze because it is reachable.
Comment icon #12 Posted by jethrofloyd 3 years ago
Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Assists Researchers Analyzing 62-Year-Old Mystery Of Dyatlov Pass https://www.huffpost.com/entry/frozen-dyatlov-pass_n_601b1b82c5b62bf30753dc2f The snow in the 2013 film was animated so well that it helped one scientist develop a simulation to study the grim 1959 death of nine Russian hikers. Researchers looking into one of the theories behind the Dyatlov Pass incident, a 1959 unsolved mystery that saw nine hikers killed during an expedition into Russia’s Ural Mountains, drew inspiration from one unlikely source — Disney’s 2013 hit film ''Frozen''.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Still Waters 2 years ago
Published: 24 March 2022 Post-publication careers: follow-up expeditions reveal avalanches at Dyatlov Pass Having shed new light on an old mystery—how nine Russian mountaineers perished in the Urals in 1959—Alexander Puzrin and Johan Gaume got hooked. Three expeditions later it is clear that avalanches are not exceptional at Dyatlov Pass. https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-022-00393 https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7vwg8/the-dyatlov-pass-mystery-may-have-just-been-solved-by-new-video-evidence
Comment icon #14 Posted by Buzz_Light_Year 2 years ago
  Predation by birds. They'll go for the eyes and the tongue gets exposed after death.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 2 years ago
  Firstly, why I do not believe - and never did, that there was any avalanche atop Dead Mountain that night. I. The tent was erected properly, with the back end facing up-slope, and the front end with the flap opening facing down-slope.    So when the this alleged avalanche approached them, they logically should have exited the tent from the front, *away* from the approaching    avalanche, and where there is an existing opening, the flap. Instead, they all waited as somebody cut a hole in the rear of the tent and everyone    exited the tent from there head on into the avalanche. This m... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by brokenbutcher2016 2 years ago
Avalanche?. The bodies looked like they where put in a microwave...Then a dehydrator, and then a tanning bed for a week.. 
Comment icon #17 Posted by Timothy 2 years ago
Hypothermia.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Coil 2 years ago
  Did people still not understand that it was a brutal murder of the entire group? The version of the avalanche is untenable, since during an avalanche people have characteristic fractures of their arms and legs, but this was not the case. The group left the tent under duress, went down the slope where they were overtaken by the attackers after several hours of inspection of the tent.Part of the group rushed run to the tent where they were sequentially killed. There were three attackers somewhere, since they could not kill everyone in one place at once, therefore such a spread of bodies (near... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by mw.decavia 2 months ago
I recently watched Josh Gates journey to Dyatlov. And it brought to life just how brutal and unsurvivable the winter journey would have been to a party on cross-country skis equiped with cold-weather gear which was woefully inadequate by even 1959 standards. With the only food and supplies being what they could carry.   I find it difficult to believe that any teacher would even imagine successfully making it to Dyatlov and then returning alive. I find it still harder to believe that the party actually made it even one-way to Dyatlov.   What I think is that they did not die at Dyatlov. That t... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by quiXilver 2 months ago
Has science solved the Dyatlov Pass Incident?  nope.   But some folks are so uncomfortable with unanswered/unanswerable mysteries that they'll latch onto anything to remain comfortable. C'est la vie.  Many aspects of it remain far from answered/explained. 


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