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Death Mountain or a UFO Site?

Updated on March 3, 2013

The Ural Mountains

Home to Mystery or Aliens?
Home to Mystery or Aliens? | Source


In the Ural Mountains of the Soviet Union in 1959, nine climbers mysteriously died.

Although the cause of death or the circumstances as to why they died had not been determined, two months after the incident occurred, it was classified as secret.

Details of the incident were only released in 1990.

Although since the release of the information several investigations have taken place, the circumstances still remain a mystery

The Incident

On 23 January ten students set out on an expedition to travel to and climb Otorten Mountain, in the northern Urals. Each student was an accomplished skier and climber.

After a few days, one of the students, Yudin, had become sick and had to turn back. The others continued on what was intended to be a 3 week adventure.

The students had planned to return to Vishai by February 12. When they had not returned on the planned day, not too much attention was paid as the team was known to be well experienced. It was only on February 20 that a search party was sent out.

The students, all dead, were found on February 26 on the slopes of Kholat-Syakhyl (Mountain of the Dead in the local Mansi language).

They had apparently died on the night of 1-2 February, but how?


On reaching the climbers campsite, the search party found their tent which had apparently been torn open from the inside. A Geiger counter that they had with them, started beeping rapidly and loudly. The student’s diaries indicated that every thing was fine in the evening when they had set up camp.

Footprints were found in the snow. Later all the footprints were attributed to the climbers, no extras. Following the footprints that led to the forest, the search party first found two bodies perhaps 1.5kms from the tent. These bodies were barefoot and dressed only in underwear although the temperatures would have been -30 degrees C. at night.

Within 500m, another three bodies were found. One appeared to have been clinging to the branch of a tree, looking towards the camp, whilst the other two had seemed to be trying to crawl back to the camp.

It was another two months before the other four bodies were found beneath 4 feet of snow. These four were dressed but seemed to have dressed in a hurry as they were wearing a mixture of their own and other climbers clothing.

Apart from burns on the hands, all the bodies seemed to be free of injury. Later it was discovered that one of the climbers had broken ribs and no tongue whilst another had a crushed skull.

Later medical tests showed all the bodies and clothing to have high levels of radiation. Family members stated that the skins of the casualties appeared to be “a kind of orange”, tanned.

Soviet Military

Mystery? | Source


Although the details of what happened that February night remain a mystery, several theories have been put forward.

The first theory is that the indigenous Mansi people must have taken offense at their presence.

What makes this unlikely though is that there was a lack of footprints apart from the climber’s.

The nearest village was 80kms away and the area was not any kind of sacred ground. The Mansi would have no reason to take offense, even if they were aware of the climbers’ presence.

The second theory is that the climbers stumbled on some kind of military experiment.

This theory is supported by the facts that the report was kept secret for many years and that region was banned to climbers for three years after the incident.

To this day though, there has been no evidence to suggest any kind of military experiment or other military activity in that area at that time.

A third theory is that the group was confronted by a Yeti.

In support of this theory there have been many supposed sightings of Yetis in those mountains and one medical report suggested that some of the injuries could have been caused by a “hug” of great pressure.

So what does that leave us? A radioactive Yeti?

The last theory is that the group happened upon aliens. This is supported by many UFO sightings being reported in that area. Also a group of geographers, who were camped 30 miles to the south on the night in question, said that they saw orange lights “fireballs” hovering in the sky above where the climbers were camped.

Recently a meeting was held to try to determine what happened that night. In attendance were six of the original search party and 31 independent experts.

They determined that the incident was most probably caused by some kind of military action. They did say though that they had no evidence to support this finding.

With this mystery still inconclusively resolved, it is up to us to decide for ourselves what happened that cold night of 1 February 1959.


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      Myself 4 years ago

      A legal inquest had been started immediately after finding the first five bodies. A medical examination found no injuries which might have led to their deaths, and it was concluded that they had all died of hypothermia. Slobodin had a small crack in his skull, but it was not thought to be a fatal wound.

      An examination of the four bodies which were found in May changed the picture. Three of them had fatal injuries: the body of Thibeaux-Brignolles had major skull damage, and both Dubunina and Zolotarev had major chest fractures. According to Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny, the force required to cause such damage would have been extremely high. He compared it to the force of a car crash. Notably, the bodies had no external wounds, as if they were crippled by a high level of pressure. Dubunina was found to be missing her tongue.[2] There had initially been some speculation that the indigenous Mansi people might have attacked and murdered the group for encroaching upon their lands, but investigation indicated that the nature of their deaths did not support this thesis; the hikers' footprints alone were visible, and they showed no sign of hand-to-hand struggle.[2]

      Although the temperature was very low, around −25 to −30 °C (−13 to −22 °F) with a storm blowing, the dead were only partially dressed. Some of them had only one shoe, while others had no shoes or wore only socks.[2] Some were found wrapped in snips of ripped clothes that seemed to have been cut from those who were already dead. However, up to 25 percent of hypothermia deaths are associated with so-called "Paradoxical undressing".[4] This typically occurs during moderate to severe hypothermia, as the person becomes disoriented, confused, and combative. They may begin discarding their clothing, which, in turn, increases the rate of heat loss.[5][6]

      Avalanche damage is considered a possible explanation for this incident.[7] One scenario under this theory is that moving snow knocked down the tent, ruining the campsite in the night. The party then cut themselves free and mobilized. The snow would likely have contacted them and possibly ruined their boots and extra clothing. Being covered in wet snow in the sub-freezing temperatures created a serious hazard to survival, with possible exhaustion or unconsciousness from hypothermia possible in under 15 minutes.[8] Thibeaux-Brignolles, Dubunina, Zolotariov, and Kolevatov were moving farther from the site to find help despite their remote location when they fell in the ravine they were found in - three of these bodies had major fractures. Being the only bodies with major injuries and lying 13 feet deep in a ravine could be considered evidence that they fell.

      Supporting factors for this theory are that avalanches are not uncommon on any slope that can accumulate snow. Despite claims that the area is not prone to avalanches,[9] slab avalanches do typically occur in new snow and where people are disrupting the snowpack.[10] On the night of the incident, snow was falling, the campsite was situated on a slope, and the campers were disrupting the stability of the snowpack. The tent was also halfway torn down and partially covered with snow - all of which could support the theory of a small avalanche pushing snow into the tent.

      Possibly negating the avalanche scenario would be that the investigators saw footprints leading from the campsite, and no obvious avalanche damage was noted. However, the footprints could have been preserved if there was no precipitation in the 25 days before the site was discovered and the supposed avalanche happened after most of the snow fell.

      Journalists reporting on the available parts of the inquest files claim that it states:

      Six of the group members died of hypothermia and three of fatal injuries.

      There were no indications of other people nearby apart from the nine travelers on Kholat Syakhl, nor anyone in the surrounding areas.

      The tent had been ripped open from within.

      The victims had died 6 to 8 hours after their last meal.

      Traces from the camp showed that all group members left the camp of their own accord, on foot.

      To dispel the theory of an attack by the indigenous Mansi people, Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny stated that the fatal injuries of the three bodies could not have been caused by another human being, "because the force of the blows had been too strong and no soft tissue had been damaged".[2]

      Forensic radiation tests had shown high doses of radioactive contamination on the clothes of a few victims.[2]

      Released documents contained no information about the condition of the skiers’ internal organs.

      The final verdict was that the group members all died because of a "compelling natural force".[1] The inquest ceased officially in May 1959 as a result of the "absence of a guilty party". The files were sent to a secret archive, and the photocopies of the case became available only in the 1990s, with some parts missing.[2][better source needed]

      Controversy surrounding investigation

      Some researchers claim some facts were missed, perhaps ignored, by officials:[3][1]

      12-year-old Yury Kuntsevich, who would later become head of the Yekaterinburg-based Dyatlov Foundation (see below), attended five of the hikers' funerals and recalls their skin had a "deep brown tan".[2]

      The hikers' clothing was found to be highly radioactive.[2]

      Another group of hikers (about 50 kilometers south of the incident) reported that they saw strange orange spheres in the night sky to the north (likely in the direction of Kholat Syakhl) on the night of the incident.[2] Similar "spheres" were observed in Ivdel and adjacent areas continually during the period of February to March 1959, by various independent witnesses (including the meteorology service and the military).[2] These were later proven to be launches of R-7 intercontinental missiles by Eugene Buyanov.[11]

      Some reports suggest that there was a great deal of scrap metal in the area, leading to speculation that the military had utilized the area secretly and might have been engaged in a cover-up.