The unsolved case of the Dyatlov Pass hiking expedition is shrouded in mystery, and it’s an intriguing story for sure.
It is the story of a group of hikers who were found inexplicably dead from what the medical examiner called an “unknown compelling force” which made them abandon their tent in sub zero temperatures in the Ural mountains in February of 1959.
The original group, consisting of 8 men and 2 women, were mostly graduates of Ural Polytechnical Institute. The goal of the trek was to reach Otorten, a mountain located 10 km north of the site of the deaths. Every member of the party was experienced in mountaineering and ski tours.
January 27th – The crew starts their journey to Otorten. At this time, and on this route, the difficulty level for the journey was rated Most Difficulty (Category III). This is a picture of some of the group members during the initial phase of the journey.
January 28th – One of the group members, Yuri Yudin (Center) is forced to turn back due to illness and was not able to accompany the others any further. He would be the only member of the group to survive the incident.
January 31st – The group arrives at the edge of the woods of a highland area and prepares for the climb. They cache supplies and food in the wooded area which they plan on picking up to use for their journey back. They would never make it back to pick up the supplies.
February 1st – The group begins to traverse the pass. Investigators believe they planned on making camp on the other side of the pass, but due to worsening weather conditions, ended up deviating from the original path, placing them closer to Kholat Syakhl (Mountain of the Dead or Dead Mountain depending on translation) than they planned.
For reasons unknown, the crew decides to set up camp for the night in this area, instead of the forested area 1.5 kilometers away, which would have provided more shelter from the elements.
The group is not heard from again.
February 20th – A rescue operation is demanded by relatives of the hikers and is launched. This initial rescue operation consist heavily of volunteers.
February 26th – The rescue operation locates the group’s tent on the foot of Kholat Syakhl. The tent is badly damaged and has been cut open from the inside. All of the group’s belongings are left inside of the tent, but the crew is nowhere to be found.
Eight or nine sets of footprints are seen leading to the edge of a nearby wooded area. Two bodies are found there along with the remains of a small makeshift campfire. The bodies are shoeless, dressed only in underwear.
Three more bodies are found around a nearby cedar tree, with branches broken up to 5 meters high. Some people theorize that the hikers climbed the tree to either break branches for smaller kindling or to try to relocate their tent in snowy conditions. At this time, authorities and a medical examiner are on scene.
May 4th – After continuous searching, the remaining four bodies are found 75 meters away from the small campfire in a ravine covered in four meters of snow. The bodies are dressed in some of the clothes of the previously discovered members, but still only dressed in pajamas and some without shoes.
A map illustrating locations of where bodies were found in relation to the camp, the tree and local terrain.
The medical examiner found three hikers with fatal injuries. One with major skull damage and two with major chest fractures. According to the medical examiner, the force required to inflict such injuries would have to be extremely high, similar to the force seen in a car crash and in his opinion, could not have been inflicted by a human.
The bodies had no visible external injuries to match the skull and chest fractures. The medical examiner likened this phenomenon to a body being subjected to extreme pressure.
One female hiker was found without her tongue or eyes.
The temperature was estimated to be approximately -25 to -30 degrees celsius. All of the bodies were found either without shoes, or with only one shoe on and dressed only in underwear and sleeping attire.
The pattern of the footsteps at the camp indicated all travelers left on their own accord, and in some estimations based on the footstep pattern, in a calm and collected fashion.
Forensic radiation tests showed elevated levels of radiation on the clothing of 2 victims.
One attendee of the funerals of 5 of the hikers recalled their skin having a “deep brown tan”.
There was no evidence of any other people anywhere close to the hikers. There were no other footsteps other than theirs.
The medical examiner concluded that all of the hiker had died 6 to 8 hours after their last meal.
Other hikers and residents living nearby reported seeing light in the sky up to a few days prior to when the hikers are believed to have perished.