Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mountain Mystery: Dyatlov Pass incident

Dyatlov Pass Incident – Mysterious Death of Nine Ski Hikers 

Dyatlov Pass incident
The Dyatlov Pass incident is referred to the mysterious death of nine ski hikers on the night of February 2, 1959 in the northern Ural mountains where the incident took place on the east side of the Kholat Syakhl mountain, Mansi by name meaning Dead Mountain. The mountain where the incident took place has been named Dyatlov Pass after the leader of the group, Igor Dyatlov. A group had been formed for ski trek across the Urals in Sverdlovsk Oblast in the north and the original group was led by Igor Dyatlov comprising of eight men and two women who were students or graduates of Ural Polytechnical Institute. The aim of the expedition was to reach the Otorten Mountain, 10 km north of the site of the incident. At that time the route was estimated as Category III, one of the most difficult routes. The members in the group were all experienced in long ski tours and mountain expeditions. The group had arrived at Ivdel by train which is a city at the centre of the northern province of Sverdlovsk Oblast on 25th January and then took a truck to Vizhai, the last inhabited settlement far north. They then proceeded towards Otorten from Vizhai on January 27 and the following day, one of the members in the group, Yuri Yudin was forced to go back due to his illness while the remaining of the group of nine people carried on with the expedition.

Diaries & Cameras Found at the last Site

Dyatlov Pass incident 1
Around their last site of their camp, some diaries and cameras were found which made it possible to trace the group’s route up to the day preceding the incident. The group then arrived at the edge of a highland point on January 31 and began to prepare for the climb. Surplus food and equipment that would be needed for the trip back was placed in a wooded valley and the following day i.e. February 1, they moved through the pass. It seemed that they had planned to go through the pass and camp for the next night on the opposite side but due to the bad weather conditions, decreasing visibility and snowstorms, their seemed to lose their direction and went west up towards the top of Kholat Syakhyl. On realizing their mistake they decided to halt and set up camp there on the slope of the mountain instead of moving 1.5 km downhill, to a forested area that would have provided them some shelter from the weather. According to Yudin, the only survivor, states that Dyatlov did not want to lose the altitude which they had gained so far and hence decided to camp on the mountain slope.

Rescue Operation Team for Investigation 

Dyatlov Pass incident 2
Dyatlov had also agreed to send a telegram to their sports club when the group would return to Vizhai and was expected to do so not later than February 12th. When the days passed and no messages arrived, they still waited another few days and it was not until the relatives of the hikers demanded a rescue operation on February 20 that the head of the institute sent its first rescue operation group comprising of volunteer students and teachers which was later followed by the army and militsiva forces with planes and helicopter who were ordered to join the rescue operation. On February 26th, those involved in the search found an abandoned damaged tent on Kholat Syakhl and the student Mikhail Sharavin who spotted the tent stated that the tent was half torn down, covered with snow. It seemed empty with all the belongings of the group and shoes left behind in the tent. According to the investigator, the tent seemed to be cut open from inside.

Death of the Ski Hikers a Mystery

Dyatlov Pass incident 3
They also found eight or nine sets of footprints left by the group who seemed to be wearing only socks, a single shoe or barefoot followed leading towards the edge of a nearby wood on the opposite side of the pass 1.5 km to the north eastern side. But after around 500 metres the tracks were covered with snow and at the edge of the forest they found the remains of a fire under a large cedar along with the bodies of the two members of the group, Krivonischenko and Doroshenko without their shoes and dressed in their underwear. The branches of the tree seemed to be broken which indicated that they could have climbed up with the intention to seek something. Between the cedar and the camp the rescue group found three more bodies of Dyatlov, Kolmogorova and Slobodin who could have died in poses which indicated that they were attempting to return to the tent which were found separately within a distance of 300, 480 and 630 metres away from the tree. The remaining four members were traced after over two months, beneath four meters of snow in a ravine 75 meters further into the woods away from the cedar tree. The absence of any eyewitnesses had led to a lot of speculation and the Soviet investigators are of the opinion that `a compelling natural force’ could have been the cause of their death.

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