What Made Hikers Take Clothes Off In Below Freezing Temps? (The Dyatlov Pass Mystery)

February 2nd, 1959 – It’s a bitterly cold
night in the remote northern Soviet Union wilderness. Nine hikers make camp in a Ural Mountains
pass near the peak known as Kholat Syakhl, or the Dead Mountain. They are 7 days into a strenuous 16 day expedition
and are slightly off course due to losing their direction in bad weather conditions. However, they are all experienced trekkers
and should be fine…except the hikers never live to see another dawn. Sometime during the night, the hikers leave
the safety of their tents and flee into the frigid dark, some of them half dressed and
barefoot. What happened to the 9 hikers on that freezing
Siberian night? The bizarre and confusing circumstances of
the last hours of the hikers’ lives has caused much speculation.The Dyatlov Pass incident,
as the tragedy has come to be known, is one of the most enduring and popular mysteries
of the latter half of the 20th century. In late January 1959, 10 students and alumni
from the Ural Polytechnical Institute–UPI and an older ski instructor began a difficult
trip, the climax of which was an arduous 7 mile trek to reach the North Ural mountain
of Otorten. With diaries and cameras found at the campsite,
authorities were able to retrace the group’s journey up until the day before their deaths. The leader of the hiking group was 23 year
old Igor Dyatlov, a radio engineering student. Dyatlov was extremely passionate about the
outdoors and an avid skier. The snowy, windswept mountain pass where the
hikers perished will eventually come to bear his last name in his honor. Dyatlov’s close friend 23 year old Yuri
Krivonischenko was a frequent companion on his hiking trips. Krivonischenko, the joker of the group had
studied construction and hydraulics, graduating from UPI in 1957. He was 5 days short of his 24th birthday when
he died. There were two more Yuris among the trekkers,
both aged 21. Yuri Yudin was an economics student with an
interest in geology. Yuri Doroshenko was a radio engineering student
with a reputation for being impulsive and fearless. Once during a camping trip, he had confronted
a bear with a geologist’s hammer. Zinaida Kolmogorova, nicknamed Zina was 22
years old and also a radio engineering major. She was an experienced hiker who had once
survived being bitten by a viper during a trek. At 20, Lyuda Dubinina was the youngest member
of the group. She was an Engineering and Economics Major. She loved photography and often took pictures
during her mountaineering adventures. Two years before the fateful Dyatlov trip,
she had been accidentally shot in the leg by a hunter during a hike through the Eastern
Sayan mountains. With great fortitude she endured a long painful
slog back to camp. Then there was 24 year old Alexander Kolevatov,
a Physics major. He was especially interested in nuclear physics. Rustem Slobodin, aged 23 had graduated in
1958 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was a quiet man who enjoyed long distance
running. Nikolai Thibeaux-Brignolles was 23 and had
also graduated in 1958 from UPI. His degree was in civil engineering. Thibeaux-Brignolles was popular and had been
very involved with sports clubs at the university. The final member of the expedition was much
older and a stranger to the others. World War II vet Semyon Zolotaryov was 38
years old. He joined the trip as a part of certifying
for his Masters Certificate in ski instruction and mountain hiking. In fact, each member of the group were adept
hikers with ski tour experience, and would be receiving grade III, the highest level
of hiking certification in the USSR upon completing the trip. On January 23rd, the group departed by train
from the city of Sverdlovsk, now called Yekaterinburg. Yekaterinburg is 1,036 miles (1,667 km) east
of Moscow, on the border of Europe and Asia. The hikers travelled by rail about 200 miles
north to Ivdel, arriving at midnight on the 25th of January. The next morning they travelled by bus to
the northern frontier town of Vizhay where they prepared to begin their trek. Dyatlov went to the local post office to send
a telegram about their arrival to the checkpoint of the route. He had also agreed to send a second telegram
on February 12, once the group had completed their journey. After checking in with the Sverdlovsk Political
Bureau of extreme sports, Dyatlov sent a postcard to his father–the last message he would ever
write. From Vizhay, the hikers traveled by truck
to a remote logging community. On January 27, 1959 the physical part of the
journey began in earnest. The hikers skied along the Lovza river, hiring
a local with a horse and sled to carry some of their provisions. They travelled to an abandoned mine, the last
human settlement in the area and spent the night there. Yudin, who hadn’t been feeling well due
to joint pain, took some geological samples for the university. On January 28, an upset Yudin, whose condition
was worsening decided to turn back, skipping the rest of the hiking trip. This decision would save his life. In fact Yudin lived to age 75, dying April
27, 2013. The remaining 9 hikers continued towards their
goal of reaching Mount Otorten. They travelled along the river until January
31st. From diary notes, we know they estimated their
travel speed to be about 1 mile per hour. At night the temperature would drop to -11
F (-24 degrees C). On January 31, the hikers left the river. In a wooded valley, to lighten their load,
they cached surplus food and equipment that would be used for the return trip. Then they hiked about 1.25 miles (2 km) to
the base of Kholat Syakhl mountain. Because of a bad snowstorm and poor visibility,
they went slightly off their planned route, deviating west. Realizing their mistake, on February 2nd they
pitched their tents on the north slope of Kholat Syakhl for the night. It was here that the 9 met their deaths. On February 12th when Dyatlov didn’t send
the agreed upon telegram, no was one too concerned. The hikers had planned a difficult route and
of course, travel times for expeditions were approximate. However by February 20, worried relatives
of the hikers demanded that authorities mount a rescue. A volunteer search party made up of students
and teachers from the university set out to find the hikers. They were soon joined by the army and militsiya,
or Soviet police forces. On February 26, 14 days after the hikers should
have returned to Vizhay, searchers found the abandoned and damaged hikers’ tent. Puzzlingly, it looked as if someone had cut
a hole in the wall of the tent from the inside. In fact, the searchers found the whole campsite
disconcerting. Many of the hikers’ belongings, including
shoes and clothing were still inside the tent. Eight or nine sets of footprints from bare
feet or people only wearing socks or one shoe were still visible in the snow. Searchers followed the footprints north-east
down the slope about a mile (1.5 km) towards the edge of a nearby woods. At the forest’s edge, under a cedar, the searchers
found the remains of a small fire. Huddled nearby were the frozen bodies of Krivonischenko
and Doroshenko, shoeless and dressed only in their underwear. Broken tree branches as high as about 16 feet
up into the tree suggested that at least one of the hikers had climbed up to get a bird’s
eye view of the area. Between the forest and the campsite, 3 more
bodies were found: Dyatlov, Kolmogorova and Slobodin. They were found separately with poses suggesting
that they were attempting to return to the camp when they perished. An inquest was immediately opened after the
first 5 bodies were found, but autopsies revealed that all five had died of hypothermia. Slobodin had a minor skull fracture, but it
was not thought to be a fatal wound. It wasn’t until over 2 months later on May
4, 1959 that the remaining 4 hikers were found buried under 9 feet of snow in a ravine further
into the woods. The 4 were better dressed for the weather
than the others with signs that clothing had been harvested from those who died first. Dubinina was wearing Krivonishenko’s burned,
torn trousers and her left leg and foot was wrapped in a torn jacket. The state of their bodies made the authorities
wonder if something more sinister had occurred during the incident. Curiously 3 of the 4 hikers had suffered severe
injuries. Dubinina and Zolotaryov were found to have
major chest fractures, while Thibeaux-Brignolles had substantial damage to his skull. Oddly, while the hikers had extensive trauma
to their bones, it was reported that there were no corresponding external injuries. The injuries to the bodies were caused by
extreme force, quite similar to injuries suffered during a car crash. Also Dubinina had facial damage, she was found
to be missing her eyes, tongue and part of her lips. Russian authorities quickly wrapped up the
inquest, concluding that “the cause of death was an unknown compelling force which the
hikers were unable to overcome.” Dubinina’s missing body parts were explained
away as simply decomposing, it’s reported that she was found in a stream that ran under
the snow. Public access to the Dyatlov pass where the
hikers died was banned for 3 years and the results of the investigation were classified
in a secret archive until the 1970’s. The authorities suppressing information regarding
the case had the opposite effect of what was intended. Over the years, odd details and rumors surrounding
the deaths have leaked out. The skin of the deceased was said to be a
strange tan color–some claim that the bodies were prematurely aged. Some speculate the corpses were unnaturally
manipulated or posed after death due to characteristic livor mortis markings discovered during autopsy,
as well as burns to hair and skin. Some of the hikers’ clothing contained traces
of radiation. Other clothing was a strange light shade of
purple – the result of processing reagents for disinfection. The tent and camp were set up in an amateurish
way unusual for experienced hikers. Soviet authorities removed items from the
site, including some of the film; this evidence disappeared and was not entered in record. Circumventing the usual protocol, high ranking
Russian authorities came from out of town to watch some of the autopsies take place. Strange orange orbs or fireballs were seen
in the sky above mountain the night of the hikers’ deaths. Some even claim that Zolotaryov was a secret
KGB agent and was on the trek as part of a mission. As some of the searchers and lower level officials
involved in the case retired, they have drawn upon their memories, discussing how evidence
was ignored, information was restricted and the official statements they were instructed
to say about the case. There have been documentaries, books and even
a fictional movie made based on the Dyatlov Pass incident. There are a number of websites dedicated to
the incident where users have painstakingly dissected maps, photographs, diaries written
by the hikers, and any other details they could find. Over 75 theories have sprung up as what actually
happened on the mountain. The theories are wide ranging. They run the gauntlet from the supernatural
to the more mundane. The hikers were killed by aliens or a yeti. There was an animal attack, such as a wolverine. The hikers were killed by the Mansi people,
a local indigenous tribe. The Ural mountains are sacred to the Mansi
and the hikers were trespassing in a spiritually important place. Actually, the remains of a Mansi chum or nomadic
tent was found relatively near the Dyatlov campsite. The authorities considered foul play by the
Mansi in the beginning, however the injuries to the hikers were determined not to be caused
by humans. Another theory is that the hikers stumbled
into an area where the USSR was testing a secret weapon program and there was a military
cover up. Radiological weapons testing could account
for the hikers’ weird injuries and the feelings of warmth which led the hikers to stripping
in the snow. The odd orange glowing spheres in the night
sky were seen by another group of hikers who were camping approximately 31 miles south
of the Dyatlov incident and confirmed by meteorological services. Could these lights have been rockets or some
other type of weapon testing? Probably the most commonly held theory is
that there was a sudden slab avalanche in the middle of the night that partially buried
the tent and woke the hikers. Slab avalanches occur when a sheet of hard,
dense snow slides down a slope. After the avalanche, the hikers cut the tent
open with a knife and escaped down the mountain into the nearby woods. Disoriented, they couldn’t make their way
back to the camp and end up splitting up. However, experienced hikers were unlikely
to react to an avalanche by rushing out into the freezing cold wearing only minimal clothing
and without shoes. Nor was the area known for avalanches. The terrain on the slope is craggy, with boulders
sticking out from the ground, making an avalanche here very unlikely. There were also no signs of a recent avalanche
found by searchers at the campsite. There are also theories that the hikers experienced
temporary insanity, made irrational choices to leave the campsite and simply got lost
in the woods. Their distressed mental state was brought
on by a bad drug trip from ingesting shrooms or a potent Mansi liquor. Recent research suggests another explanation
for potential temporary insanity in the hikers. A wind phenomenon called a Karman Vortex Street
could have produced a petrifying sound which is known to induce irrational fear in humans. Due to the unique topography of the area,
the fierce winds that blow through the mountain pass could have twisted into a series of small
but powerful tornadoes. The tornadoes whipping through the pass would
have created a deafening noise. Also under certain circumstances the winds
could produce a subtle vibration phenomenon known as infra-sound. The opposite of ultrasound, infra-sound has
a frequency below the human hearing range of 20 hertz and cannot be picked up by the
human ear. However, studies have shown intra-sound can
affect the human body in many ways including loss of sleep, nausea, shortness of breath,
feelings of anxiety and severe dread. Some locations known for being haunted by
ghosts, have been found to have infra-sound phenomena, natural or man made occuring there. Exhausted and stuck in a claustrophobic tent
on the pitch black side of mountain with a growing sensation of foreboding…even the
most stalwart of experienced hikers might freak out. Once the hikers panicked, they frantically
fled the campsite without properly dressing for the elements and ended up lost in a snowstorm. As the hikers succumbed to hypothermia, they
probably suffered ‘paradoxical undressing’ or the effect of cold-induced paralysis of
the nerves in the vessel walls which causes the sensation that the body temperature is
higher than it really is. As a result the victim undresses, because
they feel burning warmth. In February of 2019, some 60 years later Russian
officials have finally agreed to reopen the case due to pressure from relatives, the media
and the public. The Russian prosecutor general’s office is
eager to put all the theories about the hikers’ deaths to rest. They plan to involve a team of expert investigators,
inspect the site, review the original cases files and interview those still alive that
were originally involved. Also they plan to utilize modern technology
which was not available at the time. However…from the start the officials have
discounted the majority of the theories, saying that the Dyatlov Incident was caused by an
avalanche, a snow slab or a hurricane. So it seems as if from the start of the new
investigation, once again the Russian authorities are already attempting to limit the truth
of what could have happened on that bitter night in the Ural mountains so long ago. What do you think happened to the Dyatlov
hiking party? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
What Actually Happens in the Bermuda Triangle! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

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