This is the story about 9 ski hiker deaths that happened in the northersn Ural Mountains in Russia on the night of February 2, 1959. This incident happened on the east shoulder of Kholat Syakhl Mountain (meaning Mountain of the Dead). Specifically, it was in a pass known as Dyatlov Pass. This pass was named after the groups leader, Igor Dyatlov.
Soviet investigators at the time determined only that a “compelling unknown force” had caused their deaths. For 3 years after the incident, 1959-62, the Soviets forbid access to the area to skiers and hikers.
However reports in Russia now claim the incident was a result of an avalanche – the report also sheds light on some interesting questions!
Is it true that the bodies that were discovered were a strange orange colour?
It is not true that the first bodies that were discovered had a significant orange discolouration. This is because they were found quite soon after the event took place?.
The bodies discovered almost two months later did exhibit orange discolouration but this is normal and often experienced by rescue teams that have the unfortunate task of recovering such remains. This aspect of the story has been enhanced by the fact that some of the photographs taken at the time have degenerated and the “sepia” (orange) pigments in the images have become more evident.
Why were the Soviet Authorities evasive?
The simple reason is they hadn’t a logical answer for the behaviour of the ski-team. As such they used generalisms and vague descriptions that can be interpreted almost at will. “There was no reason to classify this event and it wasn’t. Those who were involved at the time merely considered it a sad and inexplicable occurrence.”
Why it was not an avalanche!
The seemingly obvious answer to this mystery is that it was an avalanche. Why don’t people believe that this is the case?
The answer to this question has been compiled by a combination of review, first hand testimony and personal investigation. The evidence against an avalanche is as follows:
At the time of discovery, the specific location of the incident did not have any obvious signs of an avalanche having taken place. Many people have assumed that because the search and rescue party seen in old photographs had snow prods there must have been considerable movement of snow. In actual fact the snow prod is merely standard rescue equipment.
A study of the area using up-to-date terrain-related physics has revealed that the location is not conducive to the formation of snow build up of the kind that causes an avalanche.
“More than 100 expeditions to the region have been held since the event took place and none of them have ever reported conditions that might create an avalanche in this location.”
The first bodies were found within ten days of the event and only covered with a shallow layer of (atmospheric) snow.
Had there been an avalanche of sufficient strength to sweep away the second party then these bodies would have been swept away as well.
The condition of the tent when it was discovered indicated that it had not been impacted with any form of snow flow of sufficient strength to knock over the poles. Put another way – it had collapsed laterally not horizontally. This is clearly visible in the photographs.
An avalanche would have left “Flow” patterns and other “debris” distributed over a wide area. Neither of these indicators were ever found.
An avalanche of sufficient strength to “sweep” four people into a ravine – beyond the tree line – some 1.5 kilometres from their tent should have produced two results. Firstly it would have caused far more serious and different injuries and secondly it would have damaged the tree line at the point of impact. Neither of these conditions were ever observed.
The “dangerous” conditions sometimes referred to by proponents of the avalanche theory were observed in April and May when the snow falls of winter were melting. During February, when the incident occurred, there were no such conditions. In addition, the so called conditions were observed in a different location with significantly steeper slopes and cornices.
An analysis of the terrain, the slope and the incline indicates that even if there could have been a “miraculous” avalanche, its trajectory would have bypassed the tent.
Dyatlov was an experienced skier and the much older Alexander Zolotarev was studying for his Masters Certificate in ski instruction and mountain hiking. Neither of these two men would have been foolish enough to allow the camp to be established anywhere in the path of a possible avalanche.