After reading Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident, by Keith McCloskey, I didn’t really find it to be a mystery anymore. By mystery, I mean in the sense of something otherworldly or paranormal being the cause of the deaths of the group. Exactly why, how and by whom they were killed is still a mystery, but it is pretty obvious that their deaths came at the hands of humans, not aliens or Yeti. I was really somewhat disappointed because I had expected a “Missing 411” type incident, but I can’t ignore facts.

1. The case file on the missing group was started a full week before anyone had any reason to think they were missing. This was a week before they were scheduled to telegraph that they were on their way home.

2. Their tent was found far off their planned route. Not that they couldn’t have changed routes, but the one they had mapped out before leaving was much easier and there was nothing in their journals to suggest any route change or any problems that would cause them to change.

3. Their tent seemed to have been placed in the spot where it was found by people who did not really know how it went together. It was put together differently than the way the group constructed it. This is known both from earlier photos of the trip and the surviving member, Yuri Yudin, who had to leave the expedition early due to a pre-existing injury that was causing too much pain for him to continue. Also, the stove used to keep them warm at night had not been lit when the tent was found. Their bodies also seemed to have been placed where they were found.

4. At least two items were found in or near the tent which did not belong to anyone in the group: a ski pole and a Chinese-made flashlight. I think it was actually two Chinese flashlights, but I am too lazy to try to find that in the book. One of the flashlights had been tossed on top of the tent and forgotten after the snow layer had been laid on top and the flashlight had no layer of snow on it.

The route that they were taking would have brought them very near a “sensitive” area: a Soviet military base. It is possible that something was being tested that night which caused their injuries and, for three of them, death or they simply saw something they shouldn’t have which caused them to be murdered outright to keep them from talking. To me, Luda’s tongue having been cut out suggests the latter, at least for the 3 who were badly injured. Perhaps a warning to anyone else who may have seen whatever went on to keep their mouths shut. Interestingly, someone had cleaned the blood from Luda’s face, although plenty of it was found in her stomach. I don’t really see aliens or Yeti taking time to do that.

The others, who were not badly injured, quite possibly got away from whoever or whatever caused the injuries to the three, only to freeze to death.

Sadly, when the search party found the tent site they did not treat it as a crime scene. They really expected their comrades to still be alive and trampled around so much that it is probably impossible from photos of the scene to determine which footprints had been left at an earlier time and which were new.

There is said to have been a line of footprints in single file leaving from the tent where it had been slit by a knife. If you are in fear for your life and running, it is unlikely you are doing so in an orderly single file fashion. My guess is that those footprints are from whoever was assigned to set up the tent where it was found and not from the members of the group.

The only thing that even suggests any alien/UFO involvement were that lights in the sky were reported on the night they disappeared. I think we all know those could have just as likely been some sort of Soviet experimental craft or even some sort of weapon.

That is not to say there is nothing paranormal in this book. Although, I am not sure what it has to do with the incident, since it took place in 1983, there is a report by someone known as Yury Yakimov about strange lights at a nearby mining area. According to Yury, he was working at the mine and walking down a path one night when bright lights appeared in the area. He looked towards them and they immediately moved and started shining directly on him. He tried to get away, but couldn’t.

Eventually, when he looked away from the lights they moved away and, if he looked at them, they moved and shined directly on him. This would seem to be an weird isolated incident, but sometime later, Yury came across a report in the paper that happened at a nearby forest preserve which was almost identical to what had happened to him. He sought out and interviewed the witnesses and it was exactly the same, when they looked away the bright light left them alone – if they looked at it then it quickly moved to shine on them.

So you see, it isn’t that I think there are no paranormal mysteries – I just don’t believe that the Dyatlov Pass incident is one of them.

Anyhow, I highly recommend “Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident,” especially for those who want to read facts that may have been left out by other sources.

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2 Responses to Grey Matters: The Dyatlov Pass Incident

  1. Indrid Cold says:

    “In a 1990 letter to the Leninsky Put newspaper, Ivanov revealed that the regional Communist Party committee had instructed him NOT to pursue the connection between the strange lights in the sky and the hikers’ deaths. He wrote that during the Cold War, “such topics were prohibited in order to prevent the slightest possibility of disclosing data on missile and nuclear techniques.” If Ivanov had up to that point been entertaining his own theories of murder and UFOs, he was told to set those aside for the good of the country.” – from “Dead Mountain” – by Donnie Eichar

  2. PurrlGurrl says:

    This is just a case of a group either intentionally or not venturing into territory that was off limits to civilians then paying the price for seeing something there that was Top Secret at that time.

    What was the group’s real purpose in changing their route, we’ll never know, but perhaps they weren’t exactly innocent citizen hikers but rather part of a small dissident group. In any event, what happened is likely the work of the Cold War Soviet military and nothing more.

    Thanks for sharing some clarifying light on a subject that’s been turned into UFO/Yeti/paranormal folklore despite evidence to the contrary.

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