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THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT - The "Mountain of the Dead" Revisited!

The DailyMail just reported that an America researcher, author and film-maker Donnie Eichar claims to have found a scientific explanation for the Dyatlov Pass Incident and many skeptics have already embraced the theory. Does it hold water?

Let's first revisit the incident and I'll let you judge for yourself. The story is very mysterious and a real head-scratcher.

The Dyatlov Pass incident

On February 2, 1959, nine ski hikers were found dead on the east shoulder of mountain Kholat Syakhl, Russia, eerily called the "Mountain Of Death' by the indigenous Mansi people. 'Dyatlov Pass' was named in honor of the group leader Igor Dyatlov.

What's so mysterious about this case is how all of them died.

First their tent was cut open from the inside, as if they couldn't or wouldn't escape from the front. All their belongings were left behind. It was also determined by the foot prints left in the snow that they all fled either barefoot or only wearing socks and one was only wearing one shoe. The fled to the nearby woods, 1.5 kilometers away. Two bodies were found at the edge of the wood under a Cedar tree, near the remains of a fire, in their underwear. Three more bodies were found between the camp and the woods, also partially dressed. The other four bodies were found two months later, under four meters of snow in a very small ravine.

Mysterious Injuries

The three of the four bodies found in the small ravine had fatal injuries. Thibeaux-Brignolles had major skull damage, and both Dubinina and Zolotarev had major chest fractures. One of the investigative doctor, Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny said the force required to cause such damage would have been extremely high, like the force of a high speed car crash. The bodies also showed no signs of external injuries in relation to those fractures and it was concluded that a high level of pressure could be the cause of their injuries. Dubinina was also found missing her eyes and tongue however, since she was found laying face first in a small stream of water that was under the snow, putrefaction appears as the likely culprit.

It was concluded that the five other hikers died of hypothermia and that one of them, Slobodin, who was found between the camp and the woods had a cracked skull, it was not a fatal wound however.

Because investigators have failed to identify a likely scenario to explain all those mysterious deaths, many different theories have arisen.

Paranormal Theories

The Abominable Snowmen Theory:

Why? It has been often reported that a note was found, written in big letters, some say in a diary, some say on large sheet of paper, saying "From now on we know that the snow men exist". Also, you have Russian cryptozoologist Mikhail Trakhtengertz who described the internal injuries of some of the hikers "as if someone had hugged them, oh so tightly". Legends of snowmen are also very popular in the region.

That being said, the apparent lack of snowmen footprints would challenge that theory. It is also believe that IF they indeed wrote that, it could have been a joke. Most importantly however, the information that such note was found doesn't seem to have been confirmed by anyone credible. As far as I'm concern, it is then just a rumor.

Aliens & UFOs Theory:

Another group of hikers who were about 50 kilometers south of the incident reported seeing strange orange spheres in the sky in the likely direction of Kholat Syakhl on the night of the incident. And they were not the only ones, other witnesses including the meteorology service and the military have also observed the bright spheres in the sky.

Former police officer Lev Ivanov who was the chief investigator on the case in 1959 published an article in 1959 admitting that he and his team of investigators had no rational explanation for the accident. He also mentioned receiving direct orders from high-ranking regional officials telling him to terminate the investigation and keep all their findings secret after reporting that the team had seen "flying spheres". Ivanov personally believes UFOs were responsible of the death of the hikers.

When investigator Ivanov approached the camp site, he described how his Geiger counter started to click rapidly and loudly. Forensic radiation tests have shown that the clothes of some of the victims were highly radioactive.

Secret Military Op Theory

Another popular theory is that at the height of the Cold War, the Russians were testing super advanced secret weapons and the group of hikers had the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Something that would back that theory, as well as the UFO theory for that matter is the military and police cover up that ensued. The details of the case remained classified until 1990 when journalist Anatoly Guschin was given permission by police to study the original files of the inquest. He later reported that many of the pages were excluded from the files and a mysterious "envelope" mentioned in the case materials list was also missing.

A problem with that theory is that some of the skiers died of hypothermia, relatively close to the camp, barely dressed while displaying no injuries. I'm not sure how "military experiments" or weapons could explain those deaths.

Skeptics' Theories

Many skeptics have rejected any paranormal theories, even theories of military involvement and have focused rather on 3 "scientifically acceptable" explanations. Let's examine them.

The Avalanche Theory:

It goes something like this, an avalanche crushed their tent, trapped inside and panicked, they cut it open to get out. Their winter clothes, boots, gloves were ruined and lost in the snow, they ran away barely dressed, without boots or shoes for about a mile in the dark, in the bitter cold of Siberia, the temperature was between -25 and −30 °C (-13 to −22 °F) to be precise and we are not counting the windchill from the storm. Those who were the least dressed died quickly while others a little more dressed tried to find either the camp or get away but ended up falling in a ravine, crushed to death by the brute force of the impact.

Ok, here's why this theory doesn't make sense.

First of, the investigators on this case have said that there wasn't any evidence of an avalanche, which would be rather obvious.

Then we have the tent that was still standing. As you see in the photo below, the planted skis which would have been knocked down easily during an avalanche of any strength were also still standing, as straight as could be.

Dyatlov Pass Tent
Dyatlov Pass Tent

Inside the tent, nothing was destroyed or buried.

Inside was like the Mary Celeste, with everything intact — warm clothes, waterproof jackets, blankets and sweaters that would have been essential to survive in the Siberian weather; plus cameras, diaries and cooking utensils, all apparently abandoned in a moment of madness.

- DailyMail

Proponents of the avalanche theory claims the hikers were so startled by the few inches of snow on the tent that they panicked, instead of coming out from the front, which was hardly blocked, they frantically slashed the sides of the tent with knives and ran for their lives barefoot, with barely any clothes on in the dangerous Siberian cold.

Obviously those supporting that theory have no idea what -25 to −30 °C (-13 to −22 °F) feels like and are ignoring a lot of details. Unless staying put guarantees your death, no sane people would run a mile in the snow (+ another mile to comeback) barefoot at -25 °C and with very little clothing on. After you take a good look at that tent, I don't see how can anyone serious think that they ran away to their death because of that phantom avalanche.

Fear Of An Avalanche Theory:

I have also read about the even stranger "Fear of an avalanche" theory which can be easily dismissed for the same reasons. Running a mile (+ another mile to comeback) at -25 °C barefoot and partially clothed is a death sentence, a decision no one would take unless faced with certain and immediate death. No one sane would take that risk based on a "possibility" of avalanche. At worst they would run 100m and come back. Slashing the sides of the tent while no one used the front entrance would also make no sense in that context.

Infrasound Phenomenon Theory:

An American researcher and author named Donnie Eichar just published a book claiming that sound waves produced by winds would have induced an irrational state of terror in the mind of the hikers which would explain their crazy behaviors.

The first problem I see with this theory and it is the same as with the avalanche theory where both proponents have to conclude that the extreme injuries of 3 of the 4 people found in the ravine were sustained by falling in it.

The problem is the ravine is hardly impressive. More like a pit actually. In the DailyMail article, it is even described as a den they themselves hollowed. It's also said that the ravine had an incline or angle of approximately 30 to 40 degrees where the hikers were found, hardly a free fall into the Grand Canyon.

If you look at the photo below, you'll realize that slipping and ending up at the bottom of the pit couldn't explain the massive internal injuries 3 of them suffered. Remember that Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny said that high level of pressure was likely the cause of their injuries and that the force needed to cause such damage was like the force of an important car crash. Falling in snow, 15 feet down a slope of around 35 degrees will hardly generate enough force to cause this type of damage. Especially major chest fractures which is an unlikely injury in those circumstances. And what about the fourth hiker found in the pit? Why no injuries unlike the others? If he didn't fall with them, then why stay there and not try to go back to the tent? It is also important to note that the investigators themselves never believed that they had sustained those injuries by falling down the small ravine.

Dyatlov Pass Pit
Dyatlov Pass Ravine

Then, going back to the infrasound explanation, it is of course highly speculative. Is there one example in history where we could show that a group of people, not just one crazy guy, could be influenced in such a drastic way by soundwaves produced by the wind? Saying that in studies, sounds can be created to trigger some sort of terror just doesn't cut it in my opinion. Can this theory be replicated in nature? And why didn't they get out of the tent through the front? Much easier. As uncomfortable as the sound might have been, no time to put the boots on? It was that sudden and intense? More intense than being barefoot at -25 Celsius? I don't buy it.

The above theories also don't explain the high level of radiation found on their clothes.

My Theory

Dismissing scenarios is easy, coming up with one is much harder. So just for the fun of it, I'll speculate.

I'll go with lead investigator Lev Ivanov's opinion that UFOs/Aliens are the cause of what happened. If one knows what he's talking about, it must be him right?

Ok so what if they were suddenly lit up by a powerful light, like you often hear about in abduction cases and through their tent, they saw silhouettes of beings not of this earth? Terrorized, they sliced open the side of tent that was in the opposite direction of the beings - coming out of the front entrance would have of course exposed them.

They ran as far as they could, until they reached the woods.

They settled there and made a fire.

Those who had the least amount of clothing on themselves must have died rather quickly even with a fire. The burned marks on their hands show that the fire alone wasn't nearly enough to save them from hypothermia at close to -30 Celsius.

Investigators determined that the hikers climbed the Oak tree they had settled just under to get a better view of their camp. There are 2 theories for that, one is they weren't sure where their camp was, the other is, they wanted to know if it was safe for them to come back. The problem the first theory is that they could have simply walked back following their own footprints if they felt lost.

So let's say that, indeed, some in the group climbed the tree to see if the "threat" had gone away.

Soon after, or perhaps even before, people started to die from hypothermia, 2 of them right next to the fire, 3 others while attempting to go back to camp in desperation.

The surviving four stayed put and decided to grab pieces of clothing from the dead bodies, as it was reported, to keep warm. Not too long after, the UFOs, the luminous spheres many have reported, visited them a second time and this is when they were killed and then dumped in a pit, perhaps even buried there.

Radiation is of course often linked to UFOs and that could explain the radiation on their clothes and tent.

That's all I have, what's your theory?

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