• Sat, Oct 29 2011

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

Members of the group before they set off.

The fact that they were all found dead is both strange enough and tragic enough as it is; but things truly took a turn for the bizarre when forensics got their hands on the data. The first five bodies found were determined to have died of hypothermia– perhaps unsurprising given the lack of clothing, though that is a mystery in and of itself. But that cedar tree that Krivonischenko and Doroshenko had been found under? It wasn’t just a tree. The branches had been broken off the tree at a height of approximately five meters, and traces skin and other tissues were found embedded in the trunk. The implication is not only that the two skiers tried to climb the tree, but also that they were so frantic that they kept scrambling at it in spite of the broken branches until their hands were literally raw. Furthermore, Slobodin and Thibeaux-Brignolle both had skull fractures, and Dubinina and Zolotareva both had broken ribs. And let’s not forget that Dubinina, Zolotareva, Thibeaux-Brignolle, and Kolevatov were found in a ravine some distance away. Kolevatov was found to have died of hypothermia. Dubinina, Zolotareve, and Thibeaux-Brignolle died due to their wounds.

Oh, and Dubinina was missing her tongue.

Initially, it was thought that perhaps indigenous Mansi people might have attacked and murder the group for trespassing on their land; the apparent lack of a struggle, however, discredited this theory. The lack of clothing may have been due to something called “paradoxical undressing”: Already suffering from moderate to severe hypothermia, a person may become disoriented and confused, at which point they may begin shedding their clothing. But still other clues were harder to explain: The tent, for instance, had been ripped open from the inside; the footsteps around the camp indicated that all the group members had left the camp of their on accord, though the positions of the bodies Dyatlov, Slobodin, and Kolmogorov showed that they had been trying to return to it; the injuries of the group found in the ravine could not, according to Dr. Boriz Vozrohdenny, have been caused by another human (“It was equal to the effect of a car crash,” he said); and what little clothing had been found on the bodies all demonstrated a high level of radioactive contamination.

Yes. The clothing was radioactive.

But late in May in 1959, the inquest into the deaths of the nine skiers ceased due to the absence of a guilty party. The final verdict declared the group died because of a “compelling unknown force.” The files pertaining to the inquest were packed away carefully and sent to a secret archive. And that, as they say, was that.

Here’s the scariest part: All of this is absolutely, 100% true. The pass they were found in was named Dyatlov Pass, after the team’s leader, and the unknown events of February 1 that led to the group’s tragic fate have been dubbed the Dyatlov Pass Incident. A few of the claims that rolled in later on, however, may or may not be true. What claims? Try these on for size:

  • After the funerals, many of the victims’ relatives said that the victims’ skin had turned an odd brown color.
  • The source of the radiation was never found.
  • A group of hikers about 50 kilometers south of the Dyatlov team reported sightings of strange orange spheres in the north—the direction towards Kholat Syakhl—on the evening of February 1.
  • Large amounts of scrap metal were reportedly found in the area around the camp.


These claims have led many to believe that the Dyatlov Pass Incident was caused by either the paranormal or the government. The spheres point to the paranormal; the other pieces of information point to the possibility that the government or the military had used the area and were now involved in a cover-up.

I don’t know, guys. This story is so truly strange and unusual that I don’t think we’re ever going to find a satisfactory explanation to what happened—especially not 53 years on. All we can really do is ensure that the ill-fated ski team is never forgotten. They may be dead, but as long as someone is thinking of them, they can never truly be gone. Cold comfort, perhaps; but hey. Sometimes, that’s all we’ve got.

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!