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Russia's Dyatlov Pass Incident: Nine Skiers Died And No One Ever Figured Out What Happened  

Mariel Loveland
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The Dyatlov Pass incident of February 1959 lives in infamy. Nine experienced adventurers - mostly students - disappeared in the Ural Mountains, and a search party found them dead weeks later. What investigators discovered paints a confusing, terrifying picture - one that includes extreme internal trauma, a missing tongue, and inexplicable radiation. Reports of UFOs, yetis and secret nuclear testing further complicate an already baffling case.

On the surface, the most plausible cause of the tragedy was an avalanche followed by hypothermia, which was the official cause of death for all but one of the people. However, conspiracy theorists - including an investigator who worked on the case - believe there are links to a Soviet Union nuclear testing cover up. Although similar cases in other countries have bewildered the world, the many questions surrounding the Dyatlov Pass incident make it a mystery worth exploring. 

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Photo: Russian National Archives/Public Domain
One Of The Bodies Was Missing A Tongue

The last four bodies discovered showed signs of bizarrely traumatic deaths. According to The Telegraph, they all appeared to have suffered internal injuries as a result of intense pressure. Nicolas Thibeaux-Brignollel had a fractured skull, Alexander Zolotaryov had crushed ribs, and Ludmila Dubinina had broken ribs and was missing her tongue. None had external injuries.

Coroners believe the internal injuries required more force than humans could feasibly exert. Boris Vozrozhdenny, a doctor who worked on the case, claimed their injuries were "equal to the effect of a car crash."

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Photo: Russian National Archives/Public Domain
Their Clothing Tested Positive For Radiation

Though the first five bodies discovered by investigators were only partially dressed, the final four appeared to have taken clothes from their dead campmates. Alexander Zolotaryov was wearing Ludmila Dubinina's coat and hat. Dubinina had a piece of wool pants wrapped around her foot from one of the others.

Strangely enough, the clothing tested on the last four bodies contained trace amounts of radiation, the cause of which remains unknown.

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Photo: Russian National Archives/Public Domain
The Campers' Tents Were Ripped Open From The Inside

Police and investigators were baffled to find the campers' tents cut open from the inside. They also found the snowy footprints of eight or nine people who were either missing a shoe or completely barefoot. The crew's footprints led to the forest, but then vanished.

It looked like the group rushed out of their tents faster than they could get dressed. The team was experienced enough to know hypothermia can set in quickly in subzero temperatures.

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Photo: Russian National Archives/Public Domain
Some Investigators Believe The Group Stumbled Upon A Soviet Nuclear Testing Site

When you factor in witness accounts, the Dyatlov Pass incident becomes even stranger. Witnesses reported fast-moving "balls of fire" over the northern Ural Mountains at the time. Many people believe it was a Soviet missile test.

Another group of students was camping 30 miles from Dyatlov's camp. They saw a shining, circular disc about the size of a full moon fly over the village. Surrounded by a blue halo that flashed like lightning, the disc lit up the sky for a few minutes before it disappeared beyond the horizon. Residents who lived in Las Vegas, NV, during the atomic testing in the 1950s describe similar phenomena.

There is no evidence an explosion took place at the camp, though the campers were notably tan and mildly radioactive.