The Dyatlov Pass Accident

The Dyatlov Pass Accident

From the annals of history comes this hair raising story that took place on the first day of February, 1959 in the Russian Ural Mountains.

Many here, in fact I’d venture that very few who read Ghosttheory have ever heard of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. If the truth be told, I just came upon the story myself and was lucky enough to hit a site that is trying to report the facts of the case.

Apparently there was a Russian Cross Country Ski Expedition that set out to cross the (later named) Dyatlov Pass on a trip that would eventually reach the mountain Gora Otorten and on through to Ojkachahl Peak. Finally they would ski 100 miles east of the town of Vishay along the Toshemka river which in those days was quite an undertaking but not unheard of.

These types of trips were quite common as scientists and engineers researched a multitude of subjects as they traveled. Often they were using these experiences to further their University Degrees or level of educational prowess.

There were allegedly 8 men and 2 women in the group led by Igor Dyatlov, all in various forms of study. Dyatlov had planned this to be a training run as a prelude to much bigger trips in the future. One of the women, Yuri Yudin had to turn back early on due to illness.

On Janurary 31, 1959 The group reaches the edge of the highland zone and moved away from the River. They prepared for a climb and left some supplies behind either in a corn chandler’s shop or in a shelter they had built. the next morning they left and headed 2.5 miles to what would be their final campsite.

In the afternoon they made their way along the slopes of Kholat-Syakhl (a Mansi name, meaning Mountain of the Dead) and decided to set up camp. Now only 10 miles from Gora Otorten and easy skiing ahead they were in good spirits as they ate a meal and began to settle in for the night. Some were so comfortable that they undressed even thought the temps were very cold.

It was sometime between 9:30pm and 11:30pm that all hell broke loose. This is when the group members began to flee the campsite by cutting and ripping thru their tents. They headed downhill in a panic toward the nearest forested area. Separated at first they all regrouped and hid under a large tree, now exchanging clothing in order to keep warm.

Terrified of going back to the campsite, they light a fire and huddle around it for quite some time before deciding that they obviously will not survive the night like this. After one of them climbs the tree to attempt a view of the camp, Igor Dyatlov, Zinaida (Zina) Kolmogorova and Rustem Slobodin are elected to make the roughly 1 mile trek back to the campsite. None of the men make it and collapse at various intervals.

With two more members of the group dead from the cold and the rest clinging to life after the three others never return they take the clothing from the dead bodies of Georgyi Krivonischenko and Yuri Doroshenko. They are so afraid at this juncture that they elect to move even further away from the now abandoned campsite.

The remaining members end up huddled in a ravine where they all took their last breaths of life.

Dyatlov Pass Accident

During the night of the 1st of February 1959 a team of nine experienced cross country skiers abandoned their tent in the Russian Ural Mountains and fled to a nearby forrest. They were in such a hurry that they were only partially clothed and cut though the sides of their tent to save time. The temperature outside was minus 15 degrees. Within hours they were all dead. Rescuers recovered their bodies at two seperate times and discovered that whle some had frozen to death others had sustained injuries. Reports have made claims of high levels of radiation, strange lights in the sky, missing body parts, strange orange skin tones and even the possiblity of UFO involvement. Now Aquiziam seeks to understand the truth about what really happened.


In brief, the rescuers and later investigators discovered that during the night, and for an unknown reason, the ski-team had apparently ripped or cut open their tent from the inside and fled from it into the snow in temperatures of approximately -15 to -18 degrees Celsius where there was a cross wind of approximately 10 – 15 kilometers per hour (20 – 30 knots). While not as cold as the -30 degrees often reported these were still very harsh conditions and survival would be limited to between three to eight hours depending on whether those involved could keep moving. At least five of the team had fewer cloths on than would have been expected and some may even have been barefooted. Within six to eight hours every member of the ski-team was dead.

The corpses were discovered at various distances from the camp site and showed little immediate outward sign of injury but on investigation it was discovered that two victims had a fractured skull (one severe), two had broken ribs, and one was missing her tongue. In addition, two of the victims’ clothes were discovered to contain trace levels of radiation. Russian investigators finally closed the case stating only that “a compelling unknown force” had caused the deaths. Again, this is a mistranslation that has added to the misunderstanding. In actual fact the correct term is “Force Majeure” and is an expression that is simply used to describe something significant that cannot be easily explained. It is also often reported that after the event the area, now loosely known as Dyatlov Pass, was immediately sealed off by the authorities and access forbidden for at least three years. Again, this implies much more than actually happened. The area was restricted but only to amateur ski-sports enthusiasts and only for reasons of safety.

This is a little known mystery and truly deserves much more attention as it is well documented and was formally investigated. Once much of the “exaggeration” and “journalistic hype” has been explained it is possible to understand that there is only really one incredible mystery and it is this. Why did nine people flee from their tent in conditions that were almost certain to result in their deaths?

Later in this review we will examine the allegedly bizarre evidence and accusations and provide some answers. With the assistance of some of the actual original investigators the Aquiziam team has done its best to piece together the story from the information available – some of it in Russian. This is what seems to have happened…


According to Dr Vladimir B. group ski activities of this type were fairly common although each had their own somewhat different purpose. In his experience of Russia at the time the usual reasons were Sporting, Sightseeing (Aesthetic Appreciation) Social and Exploratory. The various teams would be made of people with varying degrees of appreciation for these interests. In the case of the Dyatlov Team their focus was on the Sporting Challenge of trip and in particular they aspired to undertake an excursion of the highest level of difficulty (complexity).

It is often stated that the purpose of this particular trip was to reach the mountain “Gora Otorten” but, in fact, the proposed route was much further. After Otorten the team planned to travel 100 kilometers southwards along the main ridge of the Ural Mountains up to Ojkachahl Peak. From this point they intended to follow the (Northern) Toshemka river thus passing 100 miles to east of the town of Vishay (Vizhaj). Today, with the availability of advanced equipment such a route would only be considered “average” in difficulty but in 1959 is was one of the hardest that could be undertaken.

As more becomes clear it seems that Igor Dyatlov had intended this trip as “training” for a future expedition possibly to the the sub polar or even polar / Arctic regions. According to B. E. Slobtsova formal training did not exist at this time for such ventures and depended on experience gained during trips such as the Dyatlov team were undertaking.


The Dyatlov ski team was made up of eight men and two women who, except for Alexander Zolotarev, were mostly students or graduates from the Ural Polytechnic Institute located in Ekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, and now renamed the Yeltsin Ural State Technical University. Georgyi Krivonischenko, Rustem Slobodin, and Nicolas Thibeaux-Brignollel were engineers. Igor Dyatlov and Zinaida Kolmogorova were students of the Radio Faculty, Lyudmila Dubinina and Yuri Yudin were studying Economics, Yuri Doroshenko was studying Power Economics and Alexander Kolevatov was a student of the Geo-Technical Faculty.

Alexander Zolotarev was a ski / tour instructor (a professional travel guide) and wanted to go together with Dyatlov’s team to add performance points to his degree and so achieve promotion to the rank of “Master” or Expert instructor. This was and still is the practice in Russia.

Zolotarev did not know the other team members but was recommended by friends of the team from the sports club. He was accepted into the team and according to the diaries he co-operated and worked well with all of them. It is worth noting that Sports Associations were common at this time as was the willingness for people, who shared an interest such as skiing, to cooperate with each other where possible.


This time line has been put together based on available evidence, life expectancies after injury, passing-on of clothes, travel times, estimates of survival in extreme conditions and best probabilities. Since preparing our original, we have also gained access to the official time line published in 2006. When reconstructed in this way most of the components do start to fit together. For example it seems to have troubled investigators that only two members had traces of radiation. However, the time line clearly shows that the source of contamination was originally Dubinina’s cloths which were later worn by Alexander Zolotarev. These were the only two members to have trace radiation. Having said all of this – it is still an estimate based on supposition and calculation.

25 January 1959/ Time Unknown/ First traveling by train, the group arrives at Ivdel (Ивдель), a central city of the northern province of Sverdlovsk, Oblast where they stay the night.

26 January 1959/ Morning/ The group catches a lift with a truck that takes them to Vizhay where they stay the night.

27 January 1959/ Time Unknown/ The group starts their march towards “Gora Otorten” (map reference:) from Vizhay.

28 January 1959/ Time Unknown/ Yury Yudin becomes ill and turns back to Vizhay. The others continue their trek towards Gora Otorten by following the valley and river.

31 January 1959/ Time Unknown/ The group reaches the edge of the highland zone where they will break away from the River. They spend the day preparing for the climb. According to the “March Plan” they intended to leave a stock of supplies in a corn chandler’s shop. However another account suggests that they actually constructed a shelter in a nearby wooded area for the same reason.

1 February 1959/ Morning/ The group set off for what will be their last campsite. The distance they will travel is not great and is only about 2.5 miles – although a steep incline through the forest as well as weather and snow conditions may have made the journey very slow going.

1 February 1959/ 4.00pm/ Towards the evening of the 2nd of February they find themselves on the slopes of Kholat-Syakhl (a Mansi name, meaning Mountain of the Dead). They set up camp on the exposed slope of this mountain some 10 miles from their destination – Gora Otorten. Evidence from the photographs suggests that they were in a positive frame of mind. They had cleared the trees and skiing should become easier from this point to the mountain

1 February 1959/ 6.00pm – 7.00pm/ The group eats a meal.

1 February 1959/ 7.00pm – 10.00pm/ Tired, at least some of the Group settles down for the night. This is apparently evidenced by the fact that at least some of them were not fully clothed when they abandoned the tents. The temperature outside is bitterly cold – some say as low as -18 degrees Celsius. (To be honest, it is strange that they took off any clothes at all in these hostile temperatures. When members of the team camped near Berlin, Germany, in early December 2004 the temperature dropped to minus 17 degrees Celsius and we slept with all our cloths on including our boots.) Whatever the conditions, some of the Group felt relaxed enough to undress. This is perhaps the strongest evidence that they were not experiencing anything significantly out of the ordinary.

1 February 1959/ Estimated: 9.30pm – 11.30pm/ The Dyatlov Pass Incident (Accident) Begins! The timing of this is calculated based on the undigested food in the stomachs of the deceased. The group, in various states of undress, cut or rips through the sides of the tent(s) and flees downhill to the nearest forest. There is no doubt that they are scared and in a hurry. They know they will not survive long in the outside temperature so must be fleeing for their very lives. Why they should need to cut through the tent is bizarre in itself? Had they tied the fastenings shut and didn’t have time to untie them? These and other still unanswered questions will be raised later to this section. Tracks found in the snow suggest that the group was scattered at first but came back together some distance (+/-300m) down the slope.

1 February 1959/ Estimated: 10.30pm – 12.30pm/ It appears that the whole group hides under a larger than average pine tree on the edge of a nearby forest approximately 0.8 to 1.55 miles from their tents. Evidence of clothes transfer (sharing) significantly suggests they initially stayed together as a group.

1 February 1959/ Estimated: 10.00pm – 11.00pm/ Desperately cold but clearly in mortal fear of returning to their tents, they light a fire. For possibly two hours they remain where they are. The fire helps but Igor Dyatlov knows that it is not enough to keep them alive. The “great” pine tree is lower than the campsite and broken branches suggest that at least one of the team tries to climb it to see if they can view what is happening. Desperate and disoriented three members of the team decide to try and return to the tents. Igor Dyatlov, Zinaida (Zina) Kolmogorova and Rustem Slobodin make this superhuman effort. Already near dead from hypothermia, or something else, they fail to make it and collapse at various intervals. Their deaths are inevitable. They are found separately at 300, 480 and 630 meters from the pine tree.

2 February 1959/ Estimated: 12.00pm – 1.00am/ When the leader of the team fails to re-emerge, the remaining members of the group wait for some sign of hope. Two further members, Georgyi Krivonischenko and Yuri Doroshenko die from cold while waiting. (It may be that these two died before Dyatlov decides to try for the tents and their deaths may have been the catalyst for the decision) The remaining members of the Group are desperately afraid.

2 February 1959/ Estimated: 12.00pm – 1.00am/ The members of the group that are still alive take the clothes from the dead bodies of their comrades. In particular, Dubinina wraps her feet in the trouser no longer needed by Krivonischenko. Straining their eyes they look in the direction of the tents. Finally they make the decision to move further away along and into the woods. It is likely that it was at this time that the injuries sustained by this group occur.

2 February 1959/ Estimated: 12.30pm – 1.30am/ The survivors make it a further 75 – 700 meters into and along the woods before descending into a ravine. They huddle together but it is clear that Nicolas is dead. They wait and as they do Dubinina dies from chest injuries and hypothermia. Alexander Zolotarev takes (or is given) her coat and hat to try and keep himself warm.

2 February 1959/ Estimated: 12.45pm – 1.45am/ Alexander Zolotarev dies from a combination of chest injuries and hypothermia.

2 February 1959/ Estimated: 1.30am – 2.45am/ Alexander Kolevatov, frozen, afraid, alone and exhausted drifts off to sleep – he will never awake. Post event – date and time unknown Unknown Between the time of her death and the discovery of her body three months later something examines the bodies lying in the ravine. Dubanina’s head is thrown back with her mouth open just as it was while she took her last dying breath. Her tongue may already be frozen as something rips it, and possibly the lining of her oral cavity, from her body.

12 February 1959/ N/A/ This is the date that the Dyatlov Ski Team were meant to arrive in the town of Vishay and send a telegram announcing the completion of their route. They do not arrive and obviously no telegram is sent. This is the first real indication that something has gone wrong. However, a later conversation with B. E. Slobtsovym suggests that the team had planned an extension to their trip and would have only arrived in Vishay on the 14th.

20 February 1959/ Time Unknown/ Relatives of the missing skiers pressure the management of the Institute into dispatching a search and rescue party.

21-25 February 1959/ Time Unknown/ An initial failure to find the skiers results in the military and civilian authorities becoming involved in the search. Soldiers and officers take part and both planes and helicopters are dispatched to the area. The first sighting is made by the pilot of a plane.

26 February 1959/ Time Unknown/ The searchers find the abandoned camp on the eastern slope of mountain 1079 – Kholat Syakhl. The tent was badly damaged. A chain of footsteps could be followed, leading down towards the edge of nearby woods (on the opposite side of the pass, 1.5km north-east), but after 500 meters they were covered with snow. At the forest edge, under a large old pine, the searchers find the remains of a fire, along with the first two dead bodies, those of Krivonischenko and Doroshenko, shoeless and dressed only in their underwear. They are buried under snow. The branches of cedar, under which they were lying, were broken at a height of about 5 meters. On the trunk of a tree forensic doctors found traces of skin and other tissues. With this evidence it is believed that they climbed the tree and broke off branches until their hands were literally raw.

26 February 1959/ Time Unknown/ Three hundred meters from the fire and in the direction of the tent searchers find the body of Igor Dyatlova. He is laying on his back with his head towards the tents, one hand is holding a small birch tree branch and the other is shielding his head.

26 February 1959/ Time Unknown/ 180 m from the body of Igor Dyatlow and in a direction towards the tent the searchers find the body of Rustem Slobodin. He is laying face forward in the snow. Slobodin was also found to have a skull fracture of about 17 cm in length. However, experts have determined that his death was most probably from hypothermia.

26 February 1959/ Time Unknown/ A further 150m from the body of rustem Slobodin and even closer to the tent, the searchers discover the body of Zinaida Kolmogorov. Traces of blood are found nearby. (We don’t know the source of the blood yet.) It is worthy to note that it was Zinaida, a woman that made it the furthest.

4 May 1959/ Time Unknown/ Second group is found buried in a ravine under 4 meters of snow. Ludmila Dubinina is found to have a symmetrical fracture of several ribs one of which may have pierced her heart causing extensive cardiovascular bleeding for 15-20 minutes after the injury. Alexander Zolotareva is found to have broken ribs on the right side.

Source: – Dyatlov Pass

This is truly a goose bumpy mystery. What happened to these people? While you will find various theories outlined in the Aquiziam investigation, there seems to be loopholes in every one of them.

Was it a murdering band of local tribesmen? Avalanche fears? A military mix up? Or an alien encounter? these are the most visited theories out there but what about a bear invasion or on the outer fringes, a Sasquatch? Could it have even been a pack of Wolves (if there were Wolves in the area)? The most obvious answer I can think of is that one of the group turned on the others. It certainly would explain a great deal. However, I know it’s not that simple.

I’d love to hear the theories of GT readers as this is a very intriguing story.

I highly recommend that you go to the linked site and read the entire investigation as it was much too large to transfer over.

These are the types of things that set you to thinking. These are also the types of things that can drive you insane while seeking the truth.