The Dyatlov Pass Incident, 1959

The Dyatlov Pass Incident is one of the more mysterious events in the alternative community so we asked writer Simon Bradley who had no prior knowledge of the event to examine the evidence and draw his conclusions…

In January 1959, ten young experienced hikers left the relative comforts of the town of Sverdlovsk, and headed across snow-covered country to Mount Otorten in the northern Urals. One member had to turn back through illness but the remaining nine never made it and their badly damaged tent was finally found on February 27th. Five bodies in various states of undress were found nearby. The four remaining bodies weren’t found until a thaw two months later. Some of the bodies had unexplainable injuries and despite an increasing number of theories the causes of their death has never been determined.

So what happened on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl on the night of 2nd February 1959? Let’s find out…

Dyatlov Group tent is discovered
The tent of the Dyatlov group was discovered slashed, from the inside. via Wikimedia


“I didn’t know a single thing about the incident that took place on the eastern slopes of Kholat Syakhl, or the ‘Mountain of the Dead’, in the Northern Russian Urals in early 1959. What happened to nine accomplished winter hikers just 16 km from their Mount Otorten goal, in an area made so notorious by events that it’s subsequently been named after the expedition’s doomed leader Igor Dyatlov?

Whilst chewing the story over and embarking on some background research I was, perhaps due to the similarly sub-zero nature of the tragic events, drawn to the tale of polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott whose heartbreaking demise in 1912, and that of his team, is eloquently yet harrowingly described in his Sledging Journals liberated from that final camp a year later. The fact that no comparable testimonies from any of the nine victims of Dyatlov Pass were made shows, at the outset, that their deaths were hardly something they expected: they were enthusiastic diarists up to the night of 1st February.

Let’s just take a minute to establish Mount Otorten’s location. Like anywhere in Siberia the distances involved are awe-inspiring. Situated in the northern province of Sverdlovsk Oblast it’s approximately 2,100km north east of Moscow, 550km or so north of Yekaterinberg, the nearest town of any size, and over 50km into the wilderness from the team’s ultimate starting point, the frozen hamlet of Vizhay. At 1,234m it’s not even as tall as Britain’s loftiest peak, Ben Nevis, but no doubt contributing to the mystery of the unfolding events, ‘otorten’, in the local Mansi people’s language, apparently translates as ‘don’t go there’…

Full the full article read the magazine here.

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