Published: The History Press - 2013-07-01
by Keith McCloskey
In February 1959 nine young skiers died in strange circumstances in the northern Urals Mountains in Russia. The leader of the Group was Igor Dyatlov who had only just turned 23. He was an affable and highly experienced skier, hiker and orienteer. There were two strong willed girls in the Group: Lyudmila Dubinina and Zinaida Kolmogorova. There were also another seven males: Yury Yudin, Rustem Slobodin, Semyon Zolotarev a tough World War Two veteran and expert in unarmed combat, Alexander Kolevatov, George Krivonischenko, Yury Doroshenko and Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle who was born in one of Stalin's GULAGs where his French Communist father had been imprisoned and executed.
The whole Group were all very fit, experienced hikers and skiers and only the previous year, Igor Dyatlov had led a party on the same route, so they were confident that there would be no problems encountered that they could not deal with.
They left Sverdlovsk and travelled north by train, lorry and then finally by foot and skis. They reached an abandoned village of wooden houses previously used by geologists (on 27 January). They spent the night there and it was here on the following day (28 January) that the tenth member of the Group, Yury Yudin decided to turn back as he felt he could not carry on because of illness.
Their target was to reach the 1,234 metre Mount Otorten (translated as Don't go there in the local Mansi language) but they ended up on the slopes of the 1,079 metre Mountain named Kholat Syakhl (translated as Mountain of the Dead in the local Mansi language).
Up to 28 January 1959, everything can be independently verified about the Group's journey. Beyond that date and despite the presence of a Group diary and photographs, nothing can be verified.
When search parties found their tent, they saw that the side of the tent had been slashed and footsteps led away from it in deep snow. The first bodies were found to have died of hypothermia. The remaining bodies were found weeks later and were found to have no external marks, but internal injuries resembling those inflicted by a car crash. One of the two females in the group was found to have her tongue missing.
There appeared to be no rational explanation for the circumstances of their deaths. The official summing up of the case described the deaths as being caused by an unknown compelling force.
Since the official files were made available for viewing, the mystery has only deepened as there appears to be no theory or explanation which satisfactorily describes what happened to the group.
My book, Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident is based on original research in Russia and using the Dyatlov group diaries, photos and interviews with surviving people connected with the group and the sole survivor from the group, Yury Yudin who turned around because of illness. Yury Yudin passed away on 27 April 2013
If anyone should think (as I did) that a trip up to the Dyatlov Pass in the summer would be a 'doddle' then these pictures will give a good idea of what the mud is like. It can take literally hours to go just a few kilometres in these conditions. Provided you have a reasonable degree of fitness, it is probably better to make your way through the Taiga on foot.
(Photos courtesy of Natasha and Danil)
These three youtube videos were made by the group that took me off the Dyatlov Pass after my injury on my visit in August 2015 and have kindly given me permission to use them. I wanted to include them because it shows the Dyatlov Pass by the memorial stone but more importantly shows the kind of terrain in the nearby forests which is very difficult even for all terrain vehicles. One of their videos also shows the disused Soviet-era military installation on top of Mount Chistop, only 30 kilometres or so (20 miles approx.) south of the Dyatlov group's route.
1) Standing on the tent location scanning from the ridge down to the tree line.
2) Scanning the ridge from left to right.
3) Scanning the ridge down to the tree line.
4) Scanning from the stone belt ridge (location of the Dytalov memorial stone) over to Dead Mountain and the location of the tent.
Since the publication of "Mountain of the Dead" I have had a considerable amount of feedback.
I wanted to elaborate firstly on the purpose of the book, which is I wanted to get the story out because it was then, the first published book outside Russia on the Dyatlov story. Others are now appearing with each taking a different view of the events.
Keith McCloskey at the Dyatlov Pass, August 2015.
Kholat Syakhl (Dead Mountain) in the background
I have received some criticism that I have rejected nearly all the theories only to give more credence to Yury Yakimov's theory. This is missing the point I was trying to make. As I state quite clearly close towards the end of the book that I personally lean towards a Soviet military accident although I cannot prove it and even that theory is not foolproof and there are some factors which negate it - two in particular being Luda Dubinina's missing tongue and the deaths of some of the group through hypothermia rather than what could appear to be death by a blast in the case of other members of the group.
I wanted to include Yury Yakimov's theory purely as it is a first-hand account of a phenomenon which was experienced by someone who lived and worked in the area. The point is that it is important to try and keep as open a mind as possible because I believe that if the answer is ever to fully come out into the open, it may well turn out to be more than one explanation.
As with other commentators on this, I have found the view of the authorities to be less than candid. I wanted to go into more detail regarding the apparent discrepancies in the official findings but I felt this would have leaned too much towards tearing all the other theories apart and I wanted to leave some room for the reader to make their own minds up despite the reservations I made about some of them.
Lev Ivanov went to his grave convinced that there was a UFO involvement in the case. It could be expected though that someone with a pension and accommodation provided by the state would not be expected to rock the boat too much. Against this is the interview given by a man who worked for him named Vladimir Korotayev. Korotayev was an investigator who worked on the case and found a number of discrepancies which he brought to the attention of his superiors. He was also sceptical, bordering on contemptuous, of the abilities of his superiors involved in the case. Their response was to tell him to get on with his work and not to get big ideas about himself.
It could be said that there is something sinister in this or a cover up but there is also a Russian saying - "Better fifty stupid lieutenants rather than one brilliant one". Sadly Vladimir Korotayev has now passed away, as indeed has poor Yury Yudin, the only survivor of the group that set out on 23 January 1959. Many of the people who were involved in this case in 1959 and are still alive now, will not be with us for much longer and it becomes much harder to find out what really happened. Whether or not you believe that something is being withheld by the authorities (Conspiracy or Non-Conspiracy) the nature of the old Soviet Union still has a strong grip on the place and openness doesn't come easily to those in positions of authority.
As I have said before, keeping an open mind is important and if anyone wishes to discuss any theory or any aspects of the many theories, please feel free to contact me.
So far I have received some quite incisive feedback as follows:
Ryan Preston makes the point that we have all of the evidence that we need, it is just a case of applying a plausible theory all the pieces fit. He believes it is possible the Soviet military knew that the Mansi knew when to not be near the area and they probably assumed that the hikers went with them - he feels that perhaps they took a look at the tent and saw that the marks were made by people in a great hurry. It would also be explained by the alien cloth that Yuri Yudin couldn't identify with any member of the group; he was the best person to attest to their equipment.
Ryan states the following - QUOTE I think we positively surmise - with a lot of credibility - that the Dyatlov Group just happened to stumble in a testing area (newly designated) unwittingly. The thing is, I checked shots of the dash between the tent and the tree line - it was some trek, I tell you! It must have been a missile or a bomb as only they could cause the damage that happened and reach people that would normally be outside of harm's way, otherwise. I think the group did everything correctly - no arguments, no fighting, no time-wasting - they all did what they could and sadly they were overwhelmed by a force they couldn't overcome. I don't believe in the infrasound theory or UFO theories. In fact, it makes sense why some were undressed because of the radiation (could have been nuclear, or uranium) and they had to divest their clothes, I think AFTER Kolmogorova, Dyatlov and Slobodin went to the tent to get more. Tibo-Brignolles was already dead, carried by the others. Krivonischenko and Kolevatov probably got separated from the group by an oncoming blast and they happened to be away from the tent - maybe reconnoitering or investigating the lights - hence why they were already dressed, so they tried to keep warm but they succumbed to the cold and probably couldn't call their friends, so they died next. The three heading to the tent probably got surprised by some kind of impact - Dyatlov's hand positions indicate that he tried to protect himself.
After the three had succumbed to wounds and an expedited case of hypothermia, Dubinina, Doroschenko, and Zolatryov.
Then, for those three... they suffered the impact of a bomb of splash damage and their injuries would logically be in tune with being knocked over a ravine, and onto a rock. As for the tongue and eyes, Dubinina and Zolataryov were submerged in water and the latter partially, so again... it's not just foot-rot that can happened when in a trench or in this case, a river of water.
I think Doroschenko succumbed to hypothermia, Dubinina died of her wounds and the impact, as did Zolataryov.
So... I think the order of deaths were: Tibo-Brignolles, Krivonischencko & Kolevatov, Dyatlov, Slobodin, Kolmogorova, then Doroschenko, Dubinina, and finally Zolataryov. UNQUOTE
Tent Entrance - Ronald Cyr has made a number of observations before, but in my new book, he takes issue with the entrance to the tent and what I have stated along with my take on Valentin Yakimenko’s views on the taking of the photos in the night sky by members of the group and whether they would have been going in and out of the entrance. This is very important because the tent entrance was closed up when it was found by the searchers. Ron makes a valid assertion that the issue of the entrance to the tent has been largely ignored. He has stated that if the group were settling down for the night, going out to answer the call of nature etc and the lights in the sky appeared, then it is quite likely that virtually the whole group went outside to look at them. Under the circumstances it is more than likely the entrance would have been left open and unbuttoned. It is estimated that the photos taken of the lights in the sky, especially those taken by Zolotarev would have taken anything up to 2.5 minutes. The real question is:- Would the members of the group returning to the tent in dribs and drabs have left the tent entrance open for everyone to return inside before closing it up? Considering it was tough fabric with several buttons, the entrance could take 30 to 40 seconds to close up properly. So the question is - what happened at the end? Where there any people outside when whatever the event arrived to make them flee? If there were just a couple outside - would the tent entrance not have been open if this was the case? It is a very good point well worth considering. Ron also made another point about this - What if whatever was happening was happening at the entrance to the tent, so they could not use it and had to slash their way out of the side?
Steven Hall of Aberdeen made the following observations:
QUOTE Wouldn't there have been Mansi hunters in that area? I always have a feeling they observed some of the goings on. They had to keep quiet though.
Why were they testing at an area where there were people around, local Mansi and walking groups?
What was to be gained by tests at night?
Why is there no notes in anyone's diaries that day. That is a big question for me. If they had deviated from the route, I would have expected that to be recorded, at least.
Why was Semyon (Zolotarev) holding a notepad and pencil, was any sign that he managed to write anything , was any pages removed from the notepad? It would be very odd if he had managed to manipulate the notepad and pencil, with cold fingers, yet not manage to scribble at least one word !
Military tests - It's definitely a plausible explanation, but to me it just doesn't seem right. I think after all this time someone would have leaked their story, or part of it. The chance of them all being a direct hit must have been pretty remote. Their inconsistent injuries don't make sense - at least someone would have survived, at least to write a note of what had happened. (of course any notes may have been confiscated).
A big question for me, if it were military tests, is why no-one reported any noises from the explosions ?
The other hiking group who saw lights on the same day as the tragedy. But I haven't read of anyone reporting explosions, loud noises. ! Isn't that odd ?
I haven't been able to discover what was the planned route. compared to where they were. It could have been a whiteout, which made location difficult. Or they maybe decided to get higher to observe the light phenomena. Did their cameras have flashes? If they did- could that have attracted the orbs to them.
A question is why 'walk' down the slope when they had skis? They would be at the trees in a few minutes with skis on (unless they were already stolen along with boots outer clothes) it is almost impossible to actually 'run' down a hill in deep snow i think. you sink right in and end up just 'striding' really.
I think there are so many uncertainties of the actual facts. There is no way they could have walked down the hill without clothes / gloves and still had the ability to use their hands by the time they reached the trees. Their feet would have been totally numb after a few steps in the freezing conditions.
I start by assuming Gennardy Patrushev is being truthful , why would he say he saw tent & 2 bodies by it, if a lie. He would have flown in for a close look , so I really don't understand why it was said they saw tent from a distance, doesn't make sense not to fly in closer. They were people he knew, he seems genuine, didn't he also say he would be in trouble for what he reported. Not to mention the missing communications for that day.
So if there were bodies there it means there was manipulation. Did someone move the others down lower to the valley, but then when they saw plane, had to leave the tent where it was, because they assumed the pilot would had spotted it's position. There would be questions if the tent was then moved. They also assumed that the pilot had not seen the bodies beside the tent so they could still move them. It makes sense that what happened to them was right beside the tent, the badly wounded could quite obviously never have moved anywhere with their injuries.
On the other hand, it would have made more sense that they actually pitched the tent by the trees. The incident happened there, so the badly injured are in their proper positions. The authorities then later moved the tent up to the location where it was found. They were in the process of moving the group up also, when the pilot flew over and saw the tent. They decided they could no longer move everyone up there - because the pilot would be able to point out the group weren’t there when he flew over. So their plan was somewhat foiled - they had no option but to leave the tent where it had been moved to & leave the bodies where they were, but moved others out to look as if they were trying to reach the tent.
Best scenario: -
The fact that they closed access for a few years is revealing.
Why,- because of radiation.
The incident happened elsewhere - somewhere on their proper route. That area had high radiation, due to military weapon / UFO.
So they moved the bodies somewhere away from the actual event to confuse things, as well as to protect any search people from high radiation? The pilot observed the tent with bodies, while the soldiers were relocating the group to the radiation free area.
Because of the radiation left on bodies/clothes of group, Lev Ivanov was informed to carry a radiation detector.
The fact there is a (damaged) pole at the tent also could be a mistake by the soldiers, or whoever was moving things around. Alternatively it could have been intentionally left by a soldier who was disgusted at what they were doing & who wished to leave a clue as to the lack of authenticity of the scene.
If it hadn't been for Yuri Yakimov revealing the light set events, I would have went with military. But that's too much of a coincidence to happen in this area also. It could be the Mansi reference to mountain has more meaning than we think, going back ages, it could be a sort of 'dimensional' gateway or at least an area where there is more than usual UFO activity. There seem to be certain areas where they are more prevalent. UNQUOTE
I thought about the noise made by explosions but the students who reported the lights on the Chistop Massif were 30 miles away and the wind was blowing away from them carrying the sound. The Mansi settlement at Ushma is closer but still several miles and again the wind is an issue. I also gain the impression that the Mansi were willing to help out but didn’t want to get drawn into any contentious issues. Especially as nine people were dead and the authorities may have been looking to point the finger at someone.
I was contacted by a medium in California who very kindly went to the trouble of carrying out a session using the pictures from the book and the map of the route. Her report (11 pages long including the map and pages she used) is here:
Animal Mutilations - John Wantling put forward the issue of the strange injuries of the Dyatlov group in the context of animal mutilations. The issue of animal mutilations appears to be a worldwide phenomenon with similar injuries being inflicted on (mainly) cattle. The noticeable thing about the injuries is the seemingly clinical way they appear with removal of eyes, removal of tongue, jaw stripped of flesh, removal of the rectal area and genitals as well as well as other clean and clinical type injuries to the animal carcasses. Lights in the night sky play a part in many of these attacks on cattle and there is a parallel to be drawn with the Dyatlov story in relation to lights in the night sky and some of the injuries including missing eyeballs. I have covered this theory briefly in an appendix in my book Journey to Dyatlov Pass and refer the reader to two people that John Wantling suggested have carried out research in this area: David Cayton and Richard D Hall, both of whom can be seen on Youtube.
Evil / Demonic Elements in the Dyatlov Story - Paranormal investigator Bob Baker has 30 years of experience investigating paranormal cases. He worked with a Bishop from the Catholic Church for a number of years investigating mostly what were considered to be Demonic cases. For the past five years he has been investigating alien abductions with a group named Mufon. Mufon is an international organization based in California and is considered to be the go-to group for reporting UFO related incidents. In his own words he describes his views with regard to the orbs in the Dyatlov story and their relationship to UFOs and Demonic elements:
QUOTE "I was recently watching The Unexplained Files regarding the Yeti and the group of students who were killed in Siberia. I was astounded to see an orb in one of the frames at the 5:44 point in the show. The photo doesn't need any enhancements in order to see the face that's in the orb although if you did enhance it, I could almost guarantee you would see eyeballs in the eye sockets.
This orb is believed by many to be a demon. I've seen this being many times over the years in pictures and have an actual picture where the eyeballs can clearly be seen. These are rarely seen with the naked eye. All I can tell you is that whenever this entity is around, the issues involved with it are considered to be Demonic in nature. People will see this orb in their pictures and usually dismiss it as a camera anomaly or jokingly say it's a smiley face. This couldn't be further from the truth. Now that I've begun studying UFO's and abductions I feel there is a tie between what are believed to be demons and aliens. Even the term Demonic as far as I'm concerned may be a misnomer. This being could be alien. They may travel from one place to another or one dimension to another in this orb form, but I believe they can manifest into a humanoid shape of varying proportions. Of course this is only speculation on my part, but this sure could explain why bones are never found. Some believe creatures such as the Yeti and Big Foot are brought here by UFO's. There have been a number of sightings over the years where a UFO was spotted before, during and after an encounter with these creatures. The fact that you have the orb, the creature in the woods and the lights in the sky all involved in the same story sure brings a little credibility to my crazy theory that these things could be tied together... You can find pictures of these orbs on the internet by doing a search for "Demon Orbs with a face". You'll find plenty of these pictures to look at." UNQUOTE
Irrespective of any interpretation of the orb itself, it has been mentioned by others that they see some kind of face in the main orb picture.
Another person who has carried out research in this area in relation to the Dyatlov Incident as well as people involved in "Missing 411" is Coral Hull. Coral Hull's work
METHANOL - COMPUTER SIMULATION BY BEN FYRTH - Ben Fyrth has run a number of computer simulations on the Dyatlov Incident with a 97% match on one scenario. I repeat the outline of his theory here verbatim:
QUOTE "Imagine waking up in that tent, feeling unwell and it is pitch black, not just dark but absolutely pitch black, you cannot understand why there is no ambient light. You go to switch on a flash light (torch) but that is not working, you light a match but that produces no light yet you can feel the heat. Imagine if everyone in the tent has the same panic racing through them.
You hold the flashlight in front of your eyes and still yet nothing, you hold it to the the corner of your eyes and you get a faint image. You cut a slit in the side of the tent to try and see ambient light outside, still pitch black. Panic quickly ensures, screaming and chaos as people look for an explanation. That is truly horrifying.
The tent will be iced up from the -25 temperature and buttons difficult to open in a small space with the panic taking grip, your boots are on the other side of tent entrance. The group grabs what clothes they can by feel. Some of the party are extremely upset and are trying to be calmed by other members of the party who are terrified themselves.
During the evening meal, when the party is hungry and thirsty, someone has introduced the methanol based stove fuel (note not ethanol) into the food source, either maliciously, accidently or to loosen the party up. (for information I am getting a 30% 40% 30% split on this, it’s difficult to model psychology of group members as little information is available and it’s a complex area). As you may know methanol is poisonous and induces blindness rapidly (especially when pure and used for fuel, this is not moonshine much stronger). It would have been between 1 to 3 hours after consuming toxin that onset of blindness would have started as the liver breaks down the methanol in formeldahyde toxin which quickly causes irreversible damage to eye neurons, but you can read up on this.
The party would have members who likely would have had some peripheral vision (for a time anyway). The panic would have forced them to do something, remember they do not know if it is night or day, who is in the tent, who to trust, it is noisy outside and the tent is ripped. Woman particularly do not respond well to these levels of stress and would be border line hysterical.
The party rips the tent and takes what meagre supplies they can feel for, they have not got access to their boots, but they have other things on their minds, confusion and some members of the party are actually wondering if they are really alive and is this just a nightmare, are they in some kind of limbo. As I said, the reality is worse than the theories. They exit the tent and make their way down (natural instinct would be to make way downwards to look for help, answers. All they know at this point is they think they have been blinded by something in the tent and want to get away from it. Remember this is a high stress panic situation with extreme cold and wind and there is absolute darkness. The torch is taken and placed on top of the tent facing downwards as a guide (lighthouse) back for those with very little peripheral vision.
The group makes its way down to the tree line in single file, a fire is made at the base of the tree (potentially even with the missing diary and methanol fuel). It is challenging to locate fuel by touch alone and extremities will be numb at this point. So you have total blackness, howling wind and you start losing feeling in the extremities hands and feet. You might even bite the back of your hands to try and see if they are still there (if you get my meaning).
Anyway the party realises that the person who prepared dinner or the drinks is responsible and it’s probably methanol poisoning, they are intelligent at least a few of them will have put the puzzle together. They attack the perpetrator with extreme anger as they are not only extremely disorientated and frightened but they realise at this point they are almost certainly dead. He attempts to climb the tree to escape their wrath and the tree is surrounded and someone climbs up after them. The perpetrator is bought down (fall) and the group interrogate him shouting at him. He states something along the lines of he thought it was just alcohol and would be harmless or that the water and fuel got mixed up (depending on motive split which is reasonably even across the three sub options - see above).
The group sit on his chest so he cannot escape and use violence to question him, even holding his head in the fire. Remember they cannot see anything this is a noisy confusion of touch and voice. He is stripped, four of the party (with the most peripheral vision) go to look for help downwards, they fall down a ravine. 30 days and many feet of heavy snow and ice cause rib compression and fractures or the fall into the ravine itself. At this point they are separated and two groups come into play. This group is injured and blinded and feeling unwell due to the other toxic effects of methanol poisoning.
The other group of 5 (1 or 2 already deceased at this point are back at the tree). Zina who still has the most peripheral vision still left leads the remaining two back up the slope towards the tent, all crawling and feeling with their hands. At this point the group will be at last reserves of energy, sanity and other sides effects of methanol poisoning (which also induces coma). They expire at different stages of trying to regain the tent.
As I say this is coming out as a 96.2% match as the only reasonable explanation however crazy it sounds and I am confident with the software I have gone over the data and simulations many times.
As for who introduced the methanol, that was obviously either Doroshenko or Krivonischenko. One of those was either highly irresponsible and did not think things through, or malicious. I will let you have a think about this, could be that the radioactive traces came from the wick and contaminated the fuel which was spilt in preparation, possible the chest injuries and lung suffocation spume was from the groups interrogation? I am also interested in the cameras if they had flash as they may have used this to try and generate bright light to test eyes (maybe frame 33 but not sure)." UNQUOTE
This is a very interesting theory for me in that it explains the footprints leading down to the treeline which were carried out at a walking pace rather than a run and also some footprints wandering away from the main group and coming back in which shows possible disorientation. The fact that all this was run on computer simulations which automatically removes all human bias makes it doubly interesting.
Discrepancy in dates the Criminal Investigation was opened - I was contacted by a reader in Germany who made a very interesting observation about the discrepancy in dates for the opening of the investigation. The date of the criminal investigation is given as the 6th of February indicating that the authorities opened the case even before it was officially known that the hikers were missing. What this reader has suggested is that the person who wrote that date into the file was using the Julian Calendar. The Julian Calendar was used in USSR, basically you have to add 13 days to get to the "normal" Gregorian Calendar. So this would mean the file was opened on the 19th Feb 1959, which would match with the sending of the search party on the following day. He points out there is one drawback with this theory in that the Gregorian Calendar was (re)introduced in 1940, after also using a special "Soviet Calendar". But maybe people still stuck to their habits with the Julian Calendar.
Lights in the sky - This is definitely one for the Ufologists - Artie Lemos of Las Vegas drew my attention to the Colares Incident in Brazil. In late 1977 and early 1978, the Brazilian state of Pará was subjected to a series of what appeared to be beams directed at people on the ground. The feature of this strange phenomenon was unexplained lights or bright objects in the night sky. These lights were seen low over the Marajo Bay area in the region. Injuries were reported to have been inflicted by the beams on people in the area and men and women complained of feeling giddy, numb and suffering from headaches after they had been struck by the beams. The towns of Baía do Sol, Colares, Santo Antonio do Tauá and Mosqueiro were most affected. In respect of the lights and the people who follow this theory, there are many similarities between what happened in Brazil and some reports of what happened in the Northern Urals.
Helicopter Theory - An interesting variation on the rocket theory has been put forward by Norene Yarbrough of Cicero. Ill. The theory that the group were killed by a rocket falling on them from a test launch and exploding nearby is believed by a significant number of people to be a cause of the deaths or strongly contributing to the deaths. This theory also holds the view that the last photo taken which shows what appears to be falling lights is actually the rocket coming down. While it is possible that a rocket test firing had gone wrong, Norene has put forward the equally plausible possibility that it could have been a helicopter coming down on them. In many ways this is more of a possibility on this line of theory because there is more likelihood of a helicopter travelling in the vicinity and having seen the light from the tent, may have come down for a closer look in such a desolate area. Again as with the rocket theory, the authorities may have wanted to clean up the mess from a helicopter crash just as much as if they would have if it had been a rocket.
Illegal Mining in the Urals - Steve Smith of Chattanoga has suggested a very plausible theory that the Dyatlov Group may have come across a group engaged in illegal mining activities and been killed because of it. This is a far more likely scenario than some of the other theories. Gold had been discovered in the Urals as long before as the Eighteenth Century. It was not something that was broadcast by the authorities at any stage but for instance in the Nineteenth Century, a young girl named Katerina Bogdanova found a gold nugget in the basin of the Neiva River in the Urals and took it to a local official. Her reward was to receive a whipping and told to keep her mouth shut as it was probably feared there might be an uncontrolled gold rush to the area. In Soviet times Gold Mining was controlled by the state and anyone found involved in illegal mining activities would have received a harsh punishment possibly the death sentence, as this was economic crime. There would therefore have been plenty of incentive for anyone discovered to have gone to any lengths to keep their activities secret had they been seen.
Paradoxical Undressing - The issue of paradoxical undressing has been given a completely different angle by Andre Van Meulebrock. Andre has suggested that the bizarre behaviour exhibited by the group cutting their way out of the tent, rather than taking the time to go through the front, may not just be due to the fear of what was outside but the possibility is that if the group had lost their way in the extreme weather conditions (it is a fact that Kholat Syakhl was not on their planned route), it is possible that due to the extreme cold and exposure on the mountainside, the group or some members of the group succumbed to hypothermia and becoming disorientated and agitated started to slash their way out of the tent and move away from it. It is certainly another explanation for the bizarre behaviour of destroying their shelter and running away from it without proper footwear and fairly minimal clothing.
Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria) - Craig Struthers has put forward an interesting variation on the Ergot theory. He has suggested the possibility of the group becoming poisoned by Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria). With the Mansi being predominantly reindeer herders there are stories of the Shamanistic use of the Amanita Muscaria mushroom in western Siberia. Apparently the users of this sacred mushroom, the Mansi being amongst them, would feed the mushrooms to reindeer and drink the urine to filter out toxins before ingesting the psychoactive compounds.
The possibility is that the group may have ingested the mushrooms, either intentionally or unintentionally, and suffered the delirium and sweating with acute doses. This again would account for what appears to be the bizarre behaviour of the group on that final night.
Ergot - A distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Professor Morrin Acheson contacted me to put forward the theory of Ergot poisoning. By eating contaminated bread (bread was a staple food for the whole group), the group may have succumbed to ergot poisoning which would account for much of the very bizarre behaviour that they exhibited the night they died. As a matter of interest, Professor Acheson has a great deal of experience in skiing and climbing in harsh conditions and has climbed Mount Everest.
Sean Kotz of Virginia has also independently arrived at the conclusion that rye bread contaminated with ergot would account for the strange behaviour displayed by the group. Sean has also supplied an interesting theory on the way the group made their way to the base of the mountain (see "Descent from the Mountain")
Descent from the Mountain - Sean Kotz of Virginia puts forward the view that while the escape from the tent by slashing their way out may seem incomprehensible, their descent down the mountain does not. The search party found that they had made their way down the mountain in a line with trails coming out from the line and going back into it. This would be the normal procedure for them to make their way through deep snow as this is the standard method for a group to travel through deep snow where the lead person in the line tramples down the worst of the snow and as the line passes along, they each trample the snow down further. When the lead person in the line gets tired, he or she then comes out of the front of the line and makes their way to the rear which is the easiest position to rest as the people in front have done most of the work.
Tetanus - Another very interesting possibility and one that has not been considered by anybody before was put forward by Steve Smith of Chattanooga with regard to members of the group being infected by tetanus. He points out that amongst the symptoms of tetanus are (among other things, including Trismus - lockjaw) fever, sweating, muscular spasms, a feeling of suffocation, high levels of anxiety and urine retention. One of the features of hypothermia is that the muscles relax and the bladder releases any urine it is holding. However Krivonischenko and Doroshenko both had urine in their bladders (500ml & 150ml respectively) and if they had been suffering from the effects of tetanus, the sweating and fever may have caused them to start removing their clothes in their disoriented state. Steve Smith also pointed out that Igor Dyatlov's autopsy showed he had a very high level of urine retention in his bladder but his cause of death was given as hypothermia. Igor Dyatlov had 1000ml in his bladder. Normal capacity is 400-600ml and a desire to evacuate occurs around 250-300ml. The term "close to busting" would have fitted the state of his bladder quite well. It is odd then that hypothermia had not caused his bladder to release its contents which gives credence to possible tetanus symptoms.
It is worth noting that when the group arrived at the abandoned geologists village on the night of 27/28 January, they made a fire from breaking off planks of wood from the abandoned wooden dwellings. The group diary mentions that they received scratches from the old nails in the wood and this could have been the prime cause for them contracting tetanus. The incubation period for Tetanus can be as little as one day and is accelerated by frostbite.
Retention of Urine in Bladder - Following on from Steve Smith's comments (see "Tetanus") on the retention of urine by some of the group, he has further observed:
The issue about Igor's massive urine retention continues to puzzle me. If he had the tetanus, he might have been unable to urinate. But in almost every other situation, he should have been able to go. So, was he physically unable to go due to because of some poor or toxic body function or was he physically restrained from being allowed to urinate. It is my understanding that for a normal person, their body will create about 1 liter of urine per day. So Igor had an entire 24 hours of urine in his body. This production can be greater due to exercise (like hiking) but it can also be less due to climate (colder conditions contributing to less consumption of liquids). If Igor, as leader of the group, was being physically restrained by someone or some group of individuals from being allowed to urinate, then he would have been retaining the urine. And to preserve his dignity he would have been unwilling to urinate on himself as that would be humiliation. Furthermore, if Igor had urine retention for that reason, then we would expect to possibly see others in the group (who also could have been physically restrained) with some level of retention which we do - George at 500ml and Zina at 300ml. This idea of physical restraint could go with the theory that the hikers were later killed for seeing something they were not supposed to see.
UFO - Lasha Seniuk, who favours the UFO theories, has made a number of points and one I found particularly compelling is that with the presence of the light orbs that final night (which was verified by other observers south of the group), Lasha has suggested that the group members could have been blinded by the light orbs and being unable to see would have had to form some sort of a close line to follow each other down the mountain.
This would certainly account for the frenzied attempt to slash their way out of the tent but what seemed like a more orderly descent down the mountainside which has puzzled some observers. If they had been blinded they would have tried to hold onto one another with one person leading the way in a file as can be seen in some of the shocking photos of victims of mustard gas in the First World War.
Lasha's website is here and episode five covers the Dyatlov story:
S1 Ep5 (season one episode 5) - Strange weather, soul-stealing spiders, JFK, portals to other worlds and the Archons.
Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle - Steve Smith of Chattanooga also raises a very interesting thought regarding "Tibo". The Communist system killed his father (in the Gulags) and he was a product of the Gulags himself having been born in one. He was with a group consisting of the very finest products of the Communist system - young students who were all good communists and hoping to forge their careers through being strong supporters of the party. Luda in particular was fond of using the expressions "for the motherland" and "for the party" in order to spur people on to greater efforts. She suffered most out of all of them. Whilst in no way suggesting that "Tibo" was responsible for their deaths (including his own), it is possible that he may not have felt as warmly as the others towards a system that had basically destroyed his family and may have been involved in some kind of revenge attack which went badly wrong for him as well. This is merely a piece of supposition but interesting nonetheless.
Watch Keith on Russia's Mystery Files - Dyatlov Pass Incident broadcasting on the National Geographic Channel from November 2014.
In March 2013, I acted as consultant for the filming of a drama-documentary on the Dyatlov Incident.
The filming took place outside Vilnius, Lithuania and the programme is expected to broadcast on the Discovery Channel from August 2013.
The Unexplained with Howard Hughes
The Unexplained Paranormal Podcast with Howard Hughes - Edition 280 - The Dyatlov Pass Mystery
On December 20th 2015, The second part of the interview with George Knapp
is an update regarding my trip to the Dyatlov Pass.
On November 17th 2013, I appeared on the Coast to Coast AM Radio Station in America. Coast to Coast AM airs on more than 560 stations in the US as well as Canada, Mexico and Guam and is heard by nearly three million weekly listeners. It is the most listened to overnight radio program in North America. In just 4 days my 2 websites received over 10,000 new visitors.
Alexey Martin is coordinator for the Urals UFO organisation RUFORS and he knows the Dyatlov story very well and often travels up to the Pass.
Accompanying me on the trip to the Dyatlov Pass was Mikhail Petrov, a photojournalist from Moscow. Mikhail is an excellent photographer and not only provided the cover photo for my latest book but has also provided me with photos of Russian aviation which is another area of research I am involved in.
Mikhail Petrov website with contact details
and many examples of his superb work
Interviewed by a journalist and editor who runs
an editing service for self-publishers
Interview - Mysterious deaths and government cover-ups:
Keith McCloskey on how he turned his fascination for history into a writing career
Also appeared on
Steve Warner's Dark Weekend 77WABC RADIO
Where Did the Road Go? - Keith McCloskey on The Dyatlov Pass Incident
Keith McCloskey on Dyatlov Pass Updates
The Dyatlov Pass Incident with Keith McCloskey - January 7, 2017
Interviews on YouTube
1) Where Did the Road Go 25/1/14 - 2) KLAV1230AM
3) Open Your Mind (OYM) Radio - 4) Where Did the Road Go 7/1/17
Published by: The History Press - 2013-07-01