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Great Unsolved Mysteries: Russia's Dyatlov Pass Incident

Updated on August 2, 2013

by Christine B.

In late January, 1959 ten college students and avid ski hikers decided to hike the Dyatlov Pass in the northern part of the Ural Mountains in Russia. The members of the group were graduates and students from Ural State Technical University, and they all were experienced in back country expeditions. The trip proved to be much more exciting and deadly then they expected for the nine members of the team who proceeded after one member became ill and had to stay in a local village to recover. The weird circumstances of the deaths of the nine hikers remain a mystery to this day.

On February 2nd five of the hikers ripped open their tents from the inside in the middle of the night and took off running wearing only the clothes they had worn to bed. No one knows why they did that. Three weeks after the skiers left their tents their bodies were found several meters down a slope from their campsite, on a mountain near Ortoten, which was referred to by the locals as “the mountain of the dead” long before the campers arrived.

Two of the bodies found were within the tree line of the mountain, which was about a mile below their campsite. They were wearing only their underwear and socks on their feet. Indications of a fire near the bodies was also found. There was evidence that the men had climbed trees, as if they attempted to get away from something, as well. Another oddity was that all of the bodies and the clothes they were wearing had extremely high radiation readings.

Two months later the bodies of the other four hikers were located under a few feet of snow not far from the tree line. They were wearing some clothes that were known to be from the first five hikers and these clothes also had high readings of radiation. The bodies of the last four skiers also had signs of internal injuries, including broken ribs and fractured skulls with no outward signs of trauma to the bodies. One of the women, Ludmila Dubinina, not only had broken ribs, but her tongue was missing. Upon inspection of the bodies by the coroners, they reported that the bodies had trauma that was more forceful than could have been inflected by men. Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny reported that the trauma to the bodies found was likened to them being in a car crash but with no outward signs of such an event occurring.

What made the first group leave their tents in the middle of the night in such a great hurry? Several sightings of unidentified lights were reported by local villagers in the weeks before the incident occurred. A visit from a UFO could explain their apparent fear and the high radiation readings, but why did the other four not flee, as well? What could cause such great internal trauma without any outward indication of it? How did the lady hiker lose her tongue? That certainly would not have occurred had they all been victims of an avalanche. It all remains a mystery that will likely never be solved.

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