It is impossible to solve the mystery fully without surviving witnesses. But the slab avalanche theory is the closest to explaining the Dyatlov tragedy. The Dyatlov Pass incident occurred between 1 and 2 February 1959 in the Northern Ural Mountains, in which 9 Russian hikers lost their lives. The precise cause of the deaths is still not sure.
As part of a group of experienced trekking practitioners from the Ural Polytechnical Institute, Igor Dyatlov set up camp on the eastern slope of Kholat Syakhl. Despite inadequately dressed for the subzero air temperature and heavy snowfall, they cut their way out of their tent and fled from the campsite.
Members of Expedition who died:
Igor Alekseyevich Dyatlov:
Igor Alekseyevich Dyatlov was born on 13 Jan 1936 in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia. His age was 23 when the incident occurred. This incident is named after him because he led the hiking group that went awry. During his time at UPI University, he studied radio engineering at the 5th faculty.
By training, he developed and assembled a radio for use during hiking excursions in 1956 in the Sayan Mountains. He also designed a small stove, which he used after 1958. As an athlete, he had extensive experience.
His friends described him as a thoughtful man who thought through everything before making a decision. Hypothermia is supposed to be the cause of death, according to a forensic report.
Yuri Nikolayevich Doroshenko:
Yuri Nikolayevich Doroshenko was born on January 29, 1938, in the USSR. At UPI, he was a fourth-year student of radio engineering. As a member of the school’s hiking club, he became famous for using a geologist’s hammer to run at a giant bear while camping.
When he died, he was 21 years old. On March 9, 1959, Doroshenko was buried in Mihaylovskoe cemetery, Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia. According to a forensic report Hypothermia is supposed to be the cause of his death.
Lyudmila Alexandrovna Dubinina:
Dubinina was the youngest of the Dyatlov group. Her major was Engineering and Economics in her 4th year at UPI. From the start of her studies, she enjoyed participating in sports activities, singing, and taking pictures. She was an excellent photographer.
Lyuda had extensive mountaineering experience. She was accidentally shot in the leg by a hunter who accompanied the students on a hike through the Eastern Sayan mountains in 1957. While wounded and compelled to go back, both were painful and lengthy experiences for her. Lyuda experienced difficulty category II hiking in the Northern Ural in February 1958. When she died, she was 20 years old. Her 21st birthday was the day she was buried.
Georgiy Alexeyevich Krivonischenko:
Krivonischenko was born on 7 Feb 1935 in USSR. Dyatlov was a friend of Igor, and he took part in most of the expeditions he went on. Georgiy’s parents lived in the city center of Sverdlovsk, so most of the Dyatlov gang visited their spacious apartment frequently.
In addition to being well-educated and influential, Krivonishenko’s parents were often open to students staying at their homes. His father was the chief engineer at Beloyarski Hydroelectric Station. Yuri himself was the life of the party.
Despite his name Georgiy, Krivonishchenko was usually called Yuri by friends (like Zolotaryov, where he had the name Semyon, but he preferred to be called Sasha by friends).
Five days before he turned 24, he passed away. In 1959, Krivonischenko was buried in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, in the Ivanovskoe cemetery.
Alexander Sergeyevich Kolevatov:
Alexander Sergeyevich Kolevatov was born on 16 November 1934 in Sverdlovsk. A student of nuclear physics, he was a 4th-year student as a Physics Major at the UPI University.
He was the only boy in the family. As a child, Shasha had poor health. All his sisters adored him. His father had a perfect position – financial director of some factories. They lived in a private house in the center of Sverdlovsk.
In 1938, his father moved to Gulag to become the financial director of one of the factories in Tavda. All of the family members moved to this place. There was no doubt that he belonged to an elite group, but the environment of his family changed significantly.
He was 24 years old when he died in the incident. Kolevatov was buried on May 12, 1959, in Mihaylovskoe cemetery, Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia.
Zinaida Alekseevna Kolmogorova:
Zinaida Alekseevna Kolmogorova was born on January 12, 1937, in U.S.SR, Cheremhovo, Kamensky district, Chelyabinsk.At the UPI University, she was in her 5th year as a student majoring in Radio Engineering.
Her experiences as a hiker included plenty of obstacles. She was bitten by a viper while on one of her trips. Although she was in pain, she would not lighten her load, unwilling to put others through hardship. In addition to being outgoing and energetic, she was also knowledgeable.
Her friends and colleagues describe her as the University’s “engine.” She was always full of ideas and liked by everyone. She was so appealing to people, especially children, that people were naturally drawn to her. Zina had a kind personality, and although she was popular in school, she treated everyone respectfully and with love.
Zina Kolmogorova had undertaken six expeditions. The treks she always participated in led by Igor Dyatlov were of the 2nd degree of difficulty – an intermediate level. Kolmogorova died when she was 22 years old. In 1959, she was buried at Mihaylovskoe cemetery, Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia.
Rustem Vladimirovich Slobodin:
Rustem Vladimirovich Slobodin was born on 11 Jan 1936, USSR.Graduated from UPI University in 1958, he worked in Enterprise PO Box 10 at the events. Rustem liked to play the mandolin that he often took during long hiking trips.
A man of outstanding athletic ability, he was honest and decent as well. He was sometimes called Rustik because he spoke little and thought very deeply. He was ethnically Russian, but his parents, both professors at a university, lived in Asia when he was born and gave him an Asian name. He was a long-distance runner.
When he died in, Dyatlov Pass incident, he was 23 years old. Slobodin was buried in the Mihayovskoe cemetery in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, on March 10, 1959.
Nikolai Vladimirovich Thibeaux-Brignolles:
Nikolai Vladimirovich was born on July 5, 1935, in the USSR.From the University of Pittsburgh, he received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1958. Sverdlovsk’s construction department is where he was working when he died.
His average grade at the institute was 4.15 after coming to Sverdlovsk from Kemerovo.After only one year of education, he had progressed to a much higher level than in the previous year. Thibeaux-Brignolles specialized in hiking trips of various difficulty levels and was very popular with UPI students who were members of the sports club.
The energy, ingenuity, friendliness, and humor of Thibault were all noted by everyone who knew him.When he died, he was 23 years old. The grave of Thibeaux-Brignolle is located at Mihaylovskoe Cemetery in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia.
Semyon Alekseevich Zolotaryov:
At the time of his death, Semyon was an instructor at the Kourovka tour base. In addition to being the oldest member, he was also the most mysterious. Documents and memoirs list him as Sasha. The name he was given was Semyon.
He came from a paramedic family and belonged to the generation that suffered the most from the Great Patriotic War. There was only a 3% survival rate in the 1921-22 draft. From October 1941 until May 1946, Semyon served in the Armed Forces during World War II.
Early on January 25, 1959, the group arrived by train at Ivdel, a town in Sverdlovsk Oblast, located in the Northern Province. The group then took a truck to Vizhai, a lorry village near the north’s last inhabited settlement.
To stay energized for the hike the next day, the skiers bought and ate bread while spending the night in Vizhai. They set out for Gora Otorten on January 27.
An ailing member, Yuri Yudin, had returned due to knee and joint pain, unable to continue the hike. Yudin was carrying several health ailments while nine hikers remained on the trail.
Journals and cameras recovered from their last campsite allowed tracking of the group’s route before the incident. At the end of January, the group arrived at the edge of the highlands, where they prepared to climb.
For the journey back, surplus food and equipment were cached in a wooded valley. During the next day, the hikers began to make their way through the pass. There was a plan to cross the access and make camp on the opposite side the next night.
They lost their direction nonetheless due to deteriorating weather conditions, including snowstorms and decreasing visibility. They turned west toward Kholat Syakhl. After realizing their mistake, the group decided to camp on the mountainside rather than move 1.5 kilometers downhill to a forested area that might provide some shelter from the weather.
Yudin speculates that Dyatlov might not have wanted to lose the altitude they gained on the mountain slope, or he might have tried camping there.
Search of the group:
When the group returned to Vizhai, Dyatlov agreed to send a telegram to their sports club. Initially, Dyatlov said he would depart the group by 12 February, but Yudin thought it would take longer.
A few days after the 12th passed, no message had been received. Moreover, there was so no immediate response from the rescue party. Families of the travelers requested a rescue operation on 20 February, and the institute’s head sent teams of students and teachers to assist.
Aircraft and helicopters were ordered to join the operation, as well as army and militia forces.It was discovered that the abandoned tent of the group was severely damaged on Kholat Syakhl on 26 February.
Despite their best efforts, the search party couldn’t locate the campsite. According to Mikhail Sharavin, the student who found the tent, the tent was half torn down and covered in snow.
Investigators declared that the tent had been cut open from the inside, leaving the group’s belongings and shoes behind.
The footprints of nine individuals, wearing no shoes or socks or even barefoot, could be followed from the pass down towards a nearby wood, 1.5 km northeast. Approximately 500 meters into the race, the tracks had been covered with snow. A small fire was visible under the trunk of a Siberian pine at the forest’s edge.
Krivonischenko and Doroshenko were among the two bodies, both without shoes and only wearing underwear. A large number of sticks were broken from the tree, probably by someone looking for the camp. Some of the branches on the tree were as high as five meters.
They discovered three more bodies between the pine and the center: Dyatlov, Kolmogorova, and Slobodin, who died in a pose that suggests they were attempting to reach their tent. They were found at distances of 300, 480, and 630 meters from the tree.
It took more than two months to find the remaining four travelers. The bodies were finally found on 4 May beneath four meters of snow in a ravine farther into the woods than the pine tree.
All four of them were better dressed than the others, and there were signs that some of the clothing of the first to die had been removed from them by others. Dubinina was wearing the torn, burned trousers of Krivonishenko, and her left foot and shin had been wrapped in the jacket.
Local television network produced a documentary film about the Dyatlov Pass incident in 2000. In cooperation with the film crew, Yekaterinburg author Anna Matveyeva wrote a novella of the same name, based on the documentary. A large part of the book includes:
- Broad quotations from the official case.
- Diaries of victims.
- Interviews with searchers.
- Other documentaries collected by the filmmakers.
As the text proceeds, the reader learns about a modern woman’s everyday life and thoughts as she attempts to resolve the case. Despite being fiction, Matveyeva’s book continues to be the most extensive collection of documentary materials about the incident that has ever been made available to the public.
Increasingly, pages from case files and other relevant materials are being posted on a web forum for interested researchers. As part of the Ural State Technical University, the Dyatlov Foundation was founded in Yekaterinburg in 1999 under Yuri Kuntsevitch.
In its mission statement, the foundation states that it seeks to continue investigating the case and preserve the memory of the deceased hikers through the Dyatlov Museum. In Solikamsk in Ural’s Perm region, a memorial plaque has been unveiled on 1 July 2016 to honor Yuri Yudin.
Scientists have concluded that the extreme weather conditions and the fact that the group leader lacked experience in such conditions contributed to the tragedy of Dyatlov Pass incident.
Another group’s mistake was to split up instead of building a temporary camp in the forest and trying to survive throughout the night after the snow slide. Due to the investigators’ negligence, their 1959 report raised more questions than it answered, inspiring an abundance of conspiracy theories