In January 1959, a group of nine young hikers — seven men and two women — trudged through Russia’s snowy Ural Mountains toward a peak locally known as “Dead Mountain.” The hikers pitched their tents at the base of a small slope, as an intensifying blizzard chilled the night air to minus 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 25 degrees Celsius). They never made it to their next waypoint.
There are records of the hikers up through February 1st. That day, the hike started late and only managed to cover 2.5 miles, which could have been the burden of excess gear carried after Yudin’s departure and low visibility due to the weather. At some point, the hikers dropped off excess gear at a camp base before continuing up Kholat Syakhi (Dead Mountain to the native Mansi people). They set up camp on the slope of the mountain, possibly because they did not want to lose the ground that they’d covered and because they were losing daylight. However, experienced hikers in the area have said it was an odd place to set up camp. They had dinner around 6-7pm and seemed to be in good spirits based on their personal and trip journals.
And then… nothing.
To properly explain the Dyatlov Pass Incident, any theory needs to reconcile all the peculiar bits of evidence found up on that mountainside. Rescuers found the hikers’ tent buried in snow with supplies still neatly set up. But the tent was slashed from the inside, evidence of a quick escape. Outside the tent were a jumble of footprints, some made with socks, some with boots, some barefoot — alarming in the winter, especially as it had been at least -5 degrees Fahrenheit at the time.
It took three months of searching to find all nine bodies, located 0.5 mile to 1 mile from the tent. Some were barely clothed, while others showed discoloration in their limbs. Five seemed merely bruised, but four of them had more severe injuries — one had a twisted neck, another a fractured skull. Two had multiple broken ribs and were missing their eyes; one was also missing her tongue
Something had happened that induced the skiers to cut their way out of the tent and flee into the night, into a howling blizzard, in twenty-below-zero temperatures, in bare feet or socks. They were not novices to the winter mountains; they would have been acutely aware of the fatal consequences of leaving the tent half dressed in those conditions. This is the central, and apparently inexplicable, mystery of the incident.
What Happened during The Incident at Dyatlov Pass?
The Disney movie “Frozen” also aided in solving the mystery. The excellent depictions of snow’s movement in “Frozen” propelled Gaume to visit the movie’s animators. By using the animator’s code to simulate an avalanche’s impact on humans along with information from General Motors’ tests of crashes on cadavers, the researchers showed that a block of ice no bigger than an SUV could have caused the resulting injuries when it rammed into the tent. The victims with chest and head injuries survived for a time before succumbing to their wounds, which coincides with what the computer models revealed.
The rest of the strange situation can be explained from events following the avalanche. The various states of undress were probably a result of the victims having been struck by the avalanche while they were out of their skiing clothes and in their sleeping bags, though some could be the result of what is known as paradoxical undressing, when someone dying of hypothermia begins to feel overheated and disrobes.
The missing eyes and tongue would have resulted from scavenging animals, which had plenty of time to find and feed off the bodies that were exposed to the elements for weeks.
The curious radiation found on some clothing can be explained away by the thorium in the gas lanterns found in the tent.
Since there were no witnesses, we can never be 100 percent sure about what happened that horrible night. Do you buy the Disney inspired conclusion?