Ep 24: Dyatlov Pass (Part 2)


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Part 2 of our Special on Dyatlov Pass: On January 27, 1959, a group of outdoor enthusiasts, known as “tourists” in Russia, consisting of seven men and two women, mostly students and graduates of the Ural Polytechnical Institute (which is now the Ural Federal University) left the village of Vizhay in the northern Ural Mountains on a two-week ski trek, through a region called Sverdlovsk Oblast, the “gateway to Siberia” in Russia. In Russia a “tourist” is a serious outdoorsman. The goal was to reach Otorten Mountain at the end of their journey. Their planned route would rank as a “Category III,” the most difficult classification for a hiking expedition in winter, which if successful, would qualify them as “Masters of Sport.” On February 1st as they started to move through a mountain pass on their last leg of the trip, bad weather and decreasing visibility forced them off course, and the group decided to make camp on the eastern slope of a small mountain called Kholat Syakhl by the indigenous Mansi peoples, which translates to “Dead Mountain” due to the area’s lack of wild game. Sometime during the night of February 2nd, the group suffered an unimaginably terrifying ordeal, sealing their fate. When they hadn’t been heard from by February 20th, a search party was formed to look for the missing youths. On February 26th the search party reached their camp and what they found would bring more questions than answers. It appeared as though something had scared the hikers so badly, that they panicked and ripped a hole in the side of their tent in order to escape, shoeless, into – 20º F (-29º C) snowfall. It was determined by Soviet authorities that the group had met with a “compelling unknown force” causing them all to flee and ultimately die of exposure with some also suffering significant internal injuries such as broken ribs and fractured skulls. There have since been many theories put forth as to what this force actually was, but we may never know what was so horrific that it caused this group of experienced adventurers to take leave of their senses and take their chances in the deadly wilderness. Following the incident, the mountain pass was named “Dyatlov Pass” in honor of the group’s leader, Igor Dyatlov.


Tonight’s Quote:

“An unknown compelling force should be considered the cause of the hiker’s deaths.” – Lev Ivanov, Lead Prosecutor, Dyatlov Pass Incident


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Episode 024 – “Dyatlov Pass (Part 2)” Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle. Copyright Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess 2015, All Rights Reserved.


1) Igor Dyatlov and his fellow “tourists” prepare for their journey; 2) Zinaida “Zina” Kolmogorova; 3) Semen (also written as “Semyon”) “Alexander” Zolotarev; 4) Left to right: Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle and Semen “Alexander” Zolotarev; 5) Left to right: Lyudmila “Lyuda” Dubinina, Yuri Krivonischenko, Nicolai “Nick” Thibeaux-Brignolle, Rustem “Rustik” Slobodin; 6) Lyudmila “Lyuda” Dubinina hugs Yuri Yudin as Igor Dyatlov smiles on, after Yudin is forced to turn back due to back pain before the final and fatal leg of their trip; 7) The group as they prepare to leave the logging camp before setting off for Otorten Mountain; 8) “The Beard” and his jolly woodcutting comrades in a send off to the hikers; 9) “The Beard”; 10) The abandoned archeological and geological research camp – the last constructed shelter before entering deep wilderness; 11) Team members leaning against shelf holders at the research camp; 12) Rustem “Rustik” Slobodin modeling his damaged coat; 13) The group leaves for Otorten Mountain; 14) A marker carved into a tree by the local indigenous Mansi peoples, indicating the number of people in their hunting party; 15) “Zina” Kolmogorova makes an entry into her travel journal; 16) Another Mansi tribal marker; 17) 26 January 1959 – the group leaves Ivdel and gets a ride in a Russian GAZ 63 truck to the 41st Kvartal (Quarter); 18) “Zina” Kolmogorova takes one of the many photos carefully documenting their entire endeavor; 19) The group sets off for a mysterious and deadly fate.