Dyatlov Pass Incident – Chilling Deaths in the Urals

The Dyatlov Pass incident is one of the most perplexing mysteries of all time. On February 2, 1959, bizarre and inexplicable events unfolded in Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union. On that night, something caused nine experienced cross country skiers to die. The evidence surrounding their deaths was baffling, and some would say bordering on the paranormal. Investigators determined that the group died of hypothermia and an “unknown compelling force.” The case file was classified Top Secret and visitors were barred from the area for the next 3 years.

dyatlov pass incident

(L-R) A photo of a happy Lyudmila Dubinina, Yuri Krivonischenko, Nikolay Thibeaux-Briggnolles and Rustem Slobodin enjoying life. Tragedy would strike a short time later.

The skiers were students from the Ural Polytechnic Institute and were intending to engage in a skiing expedition on Otorten Mountain in the northern Urals.

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’).

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Identities of the Skiers

Igor Dyatlov led the team of nine skiers that included the following people:

  • Igor Dyatlov
  • Zinaida Kolmogorova
  • Lyudmila Dubinina
  • Alexander Kolevatov
  • Rustem Slobodin
  • Yuri Krivonischenko
  • Yuri Doroshenko
  • Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolles
  • Alexander Zolotarev

After failing to return from the expedition on their scheduled date of February 12, 1959, the families of the missing skiers contacted the local authorities for assistance. This prompted the police and army to canvass the area with aircraft and students. Concerned teachers also joined the search and rescue teams.

Investigation of the Dyatlov Pass Incident

Investigators discovered the group’s abandoned campsite on February 26th at Dyatlov Pass, and they immediately knew something awful had happened.

dyatlov pass incident campsite

Tent of the Dyatlov Pass incident was found cut open from the inside. Occupants fled with just socks on or with bare feet. Source: Wiki Commons, Soviet investigators.

Someone ripped the tent open from the inside. Within the tent, investigators found the shoes and most belongings of the skiers. They also found rolls of film and diaries that helped investigators recreate the group’s actions up until the last day the skiers were alive.

On the snow covered campsite footprints of the skiers were visible. Some of the prints revealed that the individual was only wearing socks, while others were completely barefoot. The prints led to 500 meters away from the tent and then disappeared. The weather was cold, and walking barefoot in temperatures hovering around -30 degrees Celsius would certainly have been their death sentence.

Bodies Found With Crushed Bones and Odd Circumstances

The first two bodies investigators found were Yuri Krivonischenko and Yuri Doroshenko. They were both dead, barefoot and in their underwear next to a pine tree at the edge of the forest. Also, there were indications that they made a campfire and had piled tree branches towering 15 ft high. Investigators believed the campers ued the pile of timber to gain better visibility in their unsuccessful attempt to locate the camp site.

dyatlov pass incident

Soviet authorities discovered Rustem Slobodin’s body face down and buried in the snow.

Next, investigators found Igor Dyatlov, Zinaida Kolmogorova and Rustem Slobodin. The bodies lay between the edge of the forest and the campsite. Assitionally, and they had been heading toward the camp. Slobodin had a fractured skull, but hypothermia was the official cause of death.

Another two months passed before the final four bodies emerged in a forest ravine. Someone or something had crushed Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle’s skull. Both Lyudmila Dubinina and Alexander Zolotarev had multiple broken ribs. It was also evident that Dubinina’s tongue was gone.

Unexplainable Details

Surprisingly, there were no external wounds, yet the force to their bodies was equal to that of a car crash. Also, those who died first had their clothing on the people who died later. Zolotaryov wore Dubinina’s fur coat and Dubinina’s foot was wrapped in a ripped portion of Krivonishenko’s pants.

To add more to this mystery, high radiation levels were on the victim’s clothing, and the first five bodies that investigators discovered had a deep orange or tan color to their flesh.

Through the course of the investigation, the family and friends of the skiers never found any closure. Nobody was able to give an explanation about what occurred on Dyatlov Pass, and the Soviet government subsequently closed the file and made the investigation “Classified.” It wasn’t until many decades later that the investigative files became open for review.

Once the files of the Dyatlov Pass incident opened as unclassified, another strange detail emerged. Testimony surfaced from an individual camping 50 kilometers away who witnessed strange orange spheres floating in the vicinity of the victims’ campsite the night the campers died.

Theories About the Deaths

Theorists have provided multiple ideas about what happened to these individuals of the Dyatlov Pass incident. Investigators initially believed the indigenous Mansi people were responsible for these deaths. However, investigators eliminated that as a possibility. Theorists also didn’t think it was an avalanche, because the tent lay above the snow and there were still footprints on the ground. The perplexing question as to why campers cut the tent open from the inside remains, as well as why they traveled barely dressed and without shoes.

Other theorists say the Dyatlov Pass area was a military testing ground and that the military accidentally killed the individuals during a weapons test. Investigators located military-related scrap metal in the vicinity to support this theory, but the government denies any military testing occurred in that area.

Others believe the Dyatlov Pass incident is one of the strongest examples that we are being visited by UFOs. Dubinina’s missing tongue, the strange orange color of the first five dead and the reports of the orange spheres floating over their camp site leads UFO believers to conclude this was a close encounter.

We may never know the truth about what happened to these nine individuals. But one thing is certain, their chilling story is unforgettable. The area where the campers spent their last night is now officially named Dyatlov’s Pass.

Google map location of the Dyatlov mystery

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Updated: 11-28-16

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Jim Harper

Jim created this website in December 2009 because of his fondness for history and unsolved mysteries. Since creating this website, Historic Mysteries has grown incredibly fast with thousands of people visiting it daily. Thank you for stopping by and please bookmark this page.

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