• Sat, Oct 29 2011

Creepy Things That Seem Real But Aren’t: The Dyatlov Pass Incident

Creepy Things That Seem Real But Aren’t is a series that looks at modern urban legends, bringing you a new tale each week.

At the end of January 1959, a Russian cross-country ski team ventured into the Northern Ural Mountains. Their expedition was intended to be a week-long skiing adventure, with the goal to reach a mountain in the Urals called Oroten. But though they set out from Vizhai—the last inhabited settlement that fat north—on January 27, they never came back. Or at least, they didn’t come back on their own. Numerous attempts have been made to reconstruct the events that had led to what has now become known as the DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT, with varying degrees of success. The trouble, you see, wasn’t that the team disappeared. It was the state they were in when they were found.

Here’s what we know: Led by Igor Dyatlov, the ski team consisted of eight men (including Dyatlov) and two women: Yuri Yuden, Alexander Zolotarev, Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle, Yuri Doroshenko, Yuri Krivonischenko, Rustem Zlobodin, Alexander Kolevatov, Lyudmila Dubinina, and Zinaida Kolmogorova. Nearly all of them were either students or graduates of the Ural Polytechnic Institute. On January 25, they arrived by train at Ivdel. From there, they took a truck to Vizhai. They left Vizhai on January 27; the next day Yuri Yudin fell ill and returned to Vizhai, cutting down the group’s numbers to nine. Diaries and cameras found around the last camp they ever made show that they arrived at the edge of a highland area on January 31 and readied themselves for a climb. They cached food and equipment for the trip back in a woody valley. On February 1, they began to make their way through a mountain pass, evidently with the intent to cross over the pass and camp on the opposite side. However, due to heavy snowstorms, they lost their bearings and veered west, landing them on the eastern shoulder of a mountain known as Kholat Syakhl. Upon realizing what had happened, they made the decision to stop there and set up camp.

And then: Nothing. Dyatlov was supposed to send a telegraph to the team’s sports club as soon as they returned to Vizhai– no later than February 12, he had said– but February 12 came and went and no telegraph appeared. Initially, there was little fuss made over the missing skiers; given the snowy conditions of the Urals, delays were a common occurrence. Worried family members, however, were not content simply to wait for their loved ones to return, and they spurred the Ural Polytechnic Institute into action. On February 20, the first of the rescue parties went out to search for the skiers. When they came up with nothing, the military and the police are involved. Six days later on February 26, the team’s camp was finally spotted from an airplane. The camp was deserted.

The tents were badly damaged. Footsteps led down from the camp to the edge of nearby woods, but they disappeared, covered by snow, after 500 meters. At the edge of the forest, there were the remains of a fire– along with the bodies of Yuri Krivonischenko and Yuri Doroshenko. They were lying under a cedar tree, buried in snow. 300 meters from the fire, searchers found the body of Igor Dyatlov, lying on his back with his head pointing towards the tents. He held a branch from a birch tree in one hand; with the other, he appeared to be shielding his head. 180 meters away from Dyatlov’s body was the body of Rustem Slobodin. Slobodin was face-down in the snow. Another 150 meters away from Slobodin, searchers found the body of Zinaida Kolmogorov. Of these five, most were wearing little to no clothing. It was another two months before the other four members of the team were found, but on May 4, Lyudmila Dubinina, Alexander Zolotareva, , Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle, and Alexander Kolevatov were found. They were better clothed; however, they were also in a ravine buried under four meters of snow.

You can reach this post's author, Lucia Peters, on twitter.
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  • Lolternate Universe

    You’ve gotta love a story that starts with a title of “creepy things that seem real but aren’t” and ends with the assertion that “all of this is absolutely, 100% true”.

  • Snoopy Dog

    The people found on May 4 th were found under 4 meters of snow – so it was clearly an avalanche.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tesla-Berry/100003892763288 Tesla Berry

    no clothing—-well known that the body responds to deep hypothermia by tellling the brain it is extremely hot. usually this causes victims of hypothermic conditions to take their clothing off , shortly before expiring.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=590173652 Mark Penrice

    If this is supposedly 100% true, then why is it filed under “creepy things that seem real but aren’t”? Shouldn’t it be “seem made-up but aren’t”?

  • ultdisaster

    Reddit was here :)
    BTW Very interesting and well writen story.

    • anon

      Oh fuck you for saying that.

  • Dorothy Anderson

    This story is ridiculous. Terrible writing. Don’t call yourself a writer or journalist, Lucia Peters, until you have a better understanding of grammar. If THIS is a passable piece of work for this site I will not be back. Damn you Reddit for baiting me with a mystery and leading me to this piece of crap.

  • Vasco Da Gamma

    Maybe they were attacked by someone that went in their tents while they were sleeping naked (couples) cuddling or having sex to make heat and whatever forced them out of their tents from inside while they were still naked?

  • Mike Classic

    On the surface, this story is seriously weird. However, with a bit of history and inspection, the best answer is that they were likely victims of an avalanche.

    Here’s a great rundown of what all the evidence means;


  • http://www.facebook.com/olga.rodionova.9 Olga Rodionova

    So here’s my theory on what happened:

    I’m pretty sure some indigenous tribe got them. The radiation traces found on their clothes probably came from all the Soviet military testing which I’m sure were quite prevalent in the rural areas of
    Soviet Russia. 1959 after all was the prime time of the Cold War. Maybe half of them were captured and the rest were left to fend for themselves. The 4 that were found dead from hypothermia, were found not too far from the camp. The last stages of hypothermia makes you feel like you’re hot because your body is freaking out/dying. That explains why they were found half naked.They could have hallucinated that they were attacked (climbing up the trees to get away) After all, the didn’t die from any injuries besides hypothermia. Lack of food, proper cover…we’re talking about Siberia over here, could lead to hypothermia. The other 5 were found buried deep in the snow away from the camp. Yes, it did say that their skulls were crushed, but someone could have used a weapon/rock…etc. They were probably tortured because they ventured in the tribe’s territory (tongue being cut out). If not, who says that the animals couldn’t have gotten to them.

    Now about the scrap metal that was found, I would have to see pictures of it to conclude anything. Strange lights? Military tests…people this is the prime time for the Cold War. I’m sure the military was testing all kinds of stuff.

    Mystery solved. I’m also Russian.

  • Libby

    I hope they resurrect this segment. I love creepy stories!

  • David Frohman

    The radioactivity was made up. The radioactivity was 100% made up. There was no radioactivity. No reports on it from the time of the event.

    Tans can happen after death, especially to a body mostly naked in the snow. The wounds and missing tongue could have easily been caused by predators or scavengers.

    Not really much of a mystery

  • justsaying

    hmmmm….ok. a flying object crashed close to the site scaring the hell out of the skiiers..they woke up from the noise and ran like hell. The army showed up and found the skiiers and in order to keep the crash silent had to murder any witnesses. Some of them were already froze to death but the ones who wernt were chased down and held and froze to death. the ones who were still alive were beaten. The female who had her toungue cut out was in a screaming fit so they coldly cut out her toungue. the army cleaned the mess up…then left the bodies to be found.

  • justsaying

    oh…the tanned skin is due to windburn.

  • Shadowbalde

    “Creepy things that seem real but aren’t?”
    Shouldn’t this be under “True things that seem Creepy and ARE”?

  • danny

    I am convinced that these people fell victim to ergotism. ergo is a hallucinogenic fungus that grows on rye and wheat grain stored and prepared in primitive conditions.I have no doubt that these people consumed ergo tainted bread for their evening meal. this accounts for their irrational behavior. simply put- they were quite literally trippin’.

  • Dan Olson

    It was a UFO ; end of story. its like cattle mutalations in the states.

  • Edward Buchanan

    Have you seen the trailer for the movie based on the true events of the Dyatlov Pass Incident? That looks pretty creepy, too!