This is about the Dyatlov Pass Accident, the mysterious deaths of nine young skiers in Russia in 1959. I’d never heard of this until recently, but it was big news in Russia at the time. Then it was covered up, possibly by the KGB, and more or less forgotten about until the collapse of the Soviet Union. That brought out new records and new witnesses, but by no means solved the case. What happened to the nine skiers that long past dark February on the slopes of Kholat-Syakhl mountain?
The basics of the story are simple. Nine experienced cross country skiers went out on a two week cross country ski trek. Actually eight men and two women set out, one of the men got sick and left the trek very early. They set out January 27th 1959. After a few days travel they got delayed or sidetracked by bad weather crossing Dyatlov pass, and set up camp on the slopes of Kholat-Syakhl mountain. This much was reconstructed at the scene and by reading their diaries and developing film found in their cameras (shades of Blair Witch!)
And that was that. They were supposed to return no later than February 12th. When they didn’t return on time, it took awhile to get a search underway. (Being a few days late was normal for a trek like that.) However, as the time went by and there was no sign of them, the search got more and more serious. On February 26th, nearly a month after their departure, their abandoned camp was found. What had happened? They had cut or torn their way out of the tents, and run downhill toward a wooded area some 1.5 kilometres away. They were wearing few if any clothes, and all of them apparently died of hypothermia. What in the name of God would make experienced winter campers flee their tents almost naked and die in the 25-30 C below zero weather?
It gets weirder. While six of them died of hypothermia, three of them had crushing injuries consistent with being struck by a car. One of them was missing her tongue. None of their belongings were gone, and there was no evidence that anyone else had been at the scene. Those are the basic facts. It’s also alleged that Russian military helicopter crews refused to transport the bodies, and that a civilian helicopter was eventually hired by the families for that purpose. Some of the bodies may have been radioactive, and some family members reported the victim’s skin was orange or burned and that all of their hair had turned grey. A group camping to the south of them reported seeing strange orange spheres in the sky over the doomed group the night they died.
And as previously mentioned, the government clamped down on all discussion of the accident. The formal inquest concluded that they had fled their tents because of some “unknown compelling force” and died of hypothermia. All of them fled their tents, the three injured ones were injured after they had fled. The injuries were so severe it was concluded they could not have been inflicted by human beings.
What the hell? I mean, this isn’t some Twilight Zone episode…this really happened. There are a lot of theories, none very convincing. Some have suggested that other humans were involved: local tribesmen, security troops for a secret installation, escaped convicts from a gulag. The local tribesmen are basically pretty mellow, there was no evidence of other people, and all of their possessions were intact. Some sort of secret weapon testing? Normally stuff like that is tested in secure military areas, not out in public. And there’s no evidence of any sort of weapons testing.
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