Real Life Creepy Places, Part II: Dyatlov Pass

Today’s Real Life Creepy Place is not just a place but an event. An event that took place almost sixty years ago and to this day no one has any answers, only theories as to what really happened in Dyatlov Pass in the night of February 2nd 1959, when a group of nine tourists died under extremely strange circumstances.

Dyatlov Pass is located in the northern Ural mountains, in Russia, on the mountain Kholat Syakhl. The mountain pass where the

The group before the fateful hike. Just normal Soviet young people about to have the experience of their lives...

The group before the fateful hike. Just normal Soviet young people about to have the experience of their lives…

incident occurred has since been named Dyatlov Pass after the leader of the tourist group, Igor Dyatlov. In the Mansi language, Kholat Syakhl means Mountain of the Dead, and certain folk legends say the place should be avoided—but none mention specifically why.

You’d think, with a name like that, they’d have a clue.

The hikers, fully equipped, with a tent and skis and all necessary equipment, were supposed to hike across 350km of snow and climb a mountain. Everything was going well until the group set up camp on the mountain Kholat Syakhl on February 1st. One photograph from a camera later found on the site shows the hikers setting up their tent. Everything was seemingly fine.

The last clear photo on one of the found cameras. The hikers are setting up camp. All looks well...

The last clear photo on one of the found cameras. The hikers are setting up camp. All looks well…

Twelve days later (this was before cell phones, folks), when the group failed to show up at the destination of the hike, a small Ural village, the organizers of the hike and the families of the hikers started to worry. Search parties were sent out, which was tricky because no one knew the exact route the hikers took (again, no GPS or satellites for you). Additional search parties composed of Mansi villagers (Mansi are an ethnicity native to the region) were also sent out.

Soon after, military search parties joined them.

And on February 24th, 1959, they found the camp. Or what was left of it.

On the campsite, they found the tent, torn apart from within. Inside the tent and scattered all around were all of the hikers’ supplies, their warm clothes, gloves, and skiing equipment. Several hundred meters from the campsite, they found the first five bodies, two of them stripped down to their underwear, others dressed haphazardly in mismatched items of clothing, shoes missing. Two of the bodies had strange burns, along with multiple scratches and bruises, but

...and here's what was left of it when the search party got there. The tent was torn apart from within.

…and here’s what was left of it when the search party got there. The tent was torn apart from within.

the cause of death was believed to be hypothermia.

The remaining four bodies weren’t discovered until the thaw began, in May. They were found near a creek not too far from the other bodies, and this time, there were signs of injuries inflicted by brute force—comparable, some coroners’ reports say, to a car crash. Thus, a theory of an attack by a rogue group—hostile Mansi natives or escaped prisoners, as some suggested—was ruled out. The injuries could not have been inflicted by a human being: the force was too great and no soft tissue was damaged. In any event, the possibility of another group being present at the site was also ruled out due to lack of signs or footprints besides those of the group’s members, who seemed to have left the tent of their own free will, barefoot or in their socks, leaving behind their clothes and food supplies.

One of the bodies, a young woman, was missing her tongue, eyes and lips—the reports claimed this was the result of the body laying facedown in the creek for a prolonged period of time. Except the reports of those who discovered the bodies maintain that her corpse had been kneeling against a large rock, well away from the stream. Clothing items found on several of the bodies were determined to be highly radioactive or contaminated with radioactive particles.

Many theories were advanced, the leading one being an avalanche—but no substantial proof was ever discovered to support it. There were tales of UFO’s and conspiracies, secret government tests, and suchlike. But to this day, there are no real answers. The hikers were buried in the local cemetery in the nearby city of Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg), in closed, lead-lined coffins, mere days after the bodies were found, and that was that.

So what really happened? Does it have to do with the “cursed” Kholat Syakhl, Mountain of the Dead, where legend has it nine Mansis once perished? Was it a cover-up after the tourists accidentally discovered a secret Soviet testing site? Aliens? Zombie virus? Area X? Nobody knows. The last and only “clue” to what might have happened is this photo from the camera of one of the hikers. Some say it shows the surprise “visitors” at the tent that night. Others say it’s the strange orange spheres rumored to be seen in the night sky that winter. At first it looks like any old blurry picture. I don’t know about you, but I sort of get the creeps if I look at it too long…

...UFO? Unknown intruders? No one can tell...

…UFO? Unknown intruders? No one can tell…

  • T.A. Brock (@TA_Brock)
    April 3, 2014

    Oooooh that is chilling. No pun intended. What a strange event.

  • Kira Butler
    April 3, 2014

    The last account I read about this (and it was a while ago, and I’d gladly forgotten it, thanks) mentioned in regards to the tongue that it was “ripped out from the root.” Still haunts me.

    • T.A. Brock (@TA_Brock)
      Kira Butler
      April 3, 2014

      God, that IS creepy. *shiver*

    • Nicole River
      Kira Butler
      April 3, 2014

      Oh yes, the (Russian language, sadly) source material for this had so much disturbing sh** I could have gone on for pages and pages but I could only put so much into the post.

      • Kira Butler
        Nicole River
        April 6, 2014

        Have been chatting with a friend on Twitter about this. She mentioned a book called Dead Mountain?

        She says:

        – It was an acoustical phenomenon called Kármán vortex street, the dome-shaped rock they camped beside created infrasound waves.

        – Infrasound can disorient & make people go nuts. Campers cut their way out of tent, fled shoeless, some fell down ravine, etc.

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