From missing hikers to mangled corpses to theories about the Yeti, the Dyatlov Pass Incident remains one of modern history's most baffling mysteries.
In February 1959, nine Soviet hikers disappeared in the Ural Mountains, never to be seen alive again. Their bodies were discovered weeks later with baffling injuries, including missing eyes and tongues, leaving investigators horrified and baffled.
So what exactly happened during the so-called Dyatlov Pass Incident?
To date, no one knows for certain. What is known is that the doomed hikers, led by 23-year-old Igor Alekseyevich Dyatlov and including many students from the Ural Polytechnical Institute, set out on January 23 in hopes of reaching Mt. Otorten. Dyatlov and the others were experienced hikers, and foresaw no issues with their expedition. Dyatlov optimistically told friends that he’d send them a telegram once he and the others safely returned, but this telegram would never come.
On February 1, the expedition encountered their first signs of trouble when a fierce snowstorm forced them off their path. They drifted west, and ended up on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl, which is known as “Dead Mountain” to the indigenous Mansi people. There, they’d meet their mysterious demise.
Their friends and family spent weeks without knowing what had happened. On February 21, a search party set out to try and find the missing hikers — and came across a disturbing and mysterious sight.
First, the search team found the hikers’ tent, which was nearly destroyed and had been cut open from the inside. The hikers’ belongings were also strewn about, and the searchers found footprints in the snow that looked like they’d been left by people wearing either socks, one shoe, or no shoes at all.
This was strange enough, but then the searchers found the hikers’ bodies. The bodies they found were far from camp, and almost completely nude, despite nightly temperatures of −13 to −22 Fahrenheit. Other bodies found months later had even more gruesome injuries. Several had fractured skulls and chests, and two mysteriously had burned hands. The photos from the scene of the Dyatlov Pass Incident painted a grisly picture, but there was no definitive sign as to whether they’d been attacked by animals, other people, or something else entirely.
To this day, theories about what happened to the hikers range from an encounter with the Yeti to a doomed meeting with local tribesmen. Meanwhile, some believe that their inexplicable deaths may have had to do with a particular kind of avalanche — but that’s just the beginning.
Read more about the haunting mysteries of the Dyatlov Pass Incident.