Skiers
© dyatlovjournal/Instagram
Skiers of the Dyatlov Pass expedition
The gruesome, unexplained deaths of Soviet hikers at the Dyatlov Pass in 1959 have inspired countless theories about UFOs and even secret military tests. Now, Russian sleuths have revealed that nature's wrath killed the group.

Nine graduate students from a local technical university in the Urals region, led by Igor Dyatlov, embarked on their ill-fated hiking trip in February of that year. Being experienced and well-equipped for the journey, they were planning to cover 350km on skis through extremely harsh terrain in the northern Ural Mountains.

It was all going fine initially and many happy photos left by the group attest to this. But the hikers failed to send a signal from their scheduled endpoint, triggering a rescue operation.



When they were finally found it was a shocking and truly puzzling sight. Their tent was discovered on a slope, which locals would later call 'The Mountain of the Dead.' It was empty, cut open from the inside by some sharp object. All the students' belongings, including shoes, had been left there, intact.
The bodies of two of the hikers, dressed only in their underwear, were found lying under a pine tree more than a kilometer away from the tent. Some of the hikers sustained massive internal injuries, skull fractures and chest damage. One woman was found with her eyes, tongue and part of her lips missing.
A probe ordered by the top Soviet agency did not reach any conclusion, merely saying that the students had been killed by "an unknown overwhelming force."

However, an investigation into the tragedy, one of the greatest mysteries of the Soviet era, which even inspired Hollywood thriller Devil's Pass in 2013, was relaunched last year.

The assumption that an avalanche had caused the death of the nine young hikers in a remote area in the Ural Mountains "has found its full confirmation," Andrey Kutyakov, the deputy head of Russia's General Prosecutor's Office branch in the Urals, said, as he announced the results of the new probe.

After the snow slide, the hikers cut their tent open and got outside, retreating towards the nearby stone ridge, which was holding the avalanche off. "It was the right thing to do, but there was another reason why they were already condemned to death," Kutyakov revealed.

When the students tried to find their tent, they couldn't see it anymore. "The visibility was around 16 meters, but the tent was 50 meters away."


The group descended further down the slope and lit a bonfire, before making another fruitless attempt. With no chance of surviving, people eventually froze to death at temperatures of up to minus 45 Celsius.
"It was a heroic struggle. There was no panic. But they had no chance to save themselves in those circumstances."
As the true cause of the high-altitude incident remained unknown for decades, countless theories popped up, attempting to explain the tragic events at the Dyatlov Pass. Some said that an alien intervention or some other paranormal activity could've been involved; others argued that the hikers were unlucky to walk into a Soviet military testing site. There was also a suggestion that the killing was revenge from shamans for entering a sacred site.

Whether the explanation from the prosecutors will make those theories go away, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, RT's Ruptly video agency has dedicated a major cross-platform project to the tragedy at the Dyatlov Pass. It thoroughly retraces the group's journey, using photos taken by the hikers, documents from the official investigation, interviews and contemporaneous footage made at the site, to give every viewer a unique chance at trying to solve the mystery of the deaths.