We have recently had a number of e-mails sent to us proposing suggestions as to what might have happened. Almost all of these ask for answers to some of the sensationalist claims found elsewhere. We’ve done our best to provide sensible and scientific answers.
Some of this may seem like repetition from other pages but by presenting these as questions and answers it may save some time in responding to e-mails and may also remove some of the regrettable hype and exaggeration surrounding this mystery. Most of the answers have been supplied by people who were actually involved in the event and are now assisting us with information.
THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT – SOME ANSWERS
What is the real mystery?
When all the journalistic exaggeration and misinformation has been removed the real mystery is this:
Why did nine, experienced and sensible, ski-hikers abandon their tent in such a hurry and in weather conditions that were hostile and almost certain to lead to their deaths?
Surely this was just an unfortunate accident. Why not just let these people rest in peace? Even after 50 years, the family and friends of the nine ski-hikers still believe that something strange and unexplained happened in the Urals Mountain that night. The Dyatlov Foundation (fund) has been established to perpetrate their memory and to seek for the truth. The current President of the Dyatlov Foundation, Yuri Kuntsevitch, has recently provided Aquiziam with a letter of gratitude for our assistance in creating a wider awareness of what happened. (Click here to see a full scan of this letter)
Are all the people reporting this mystery impartial and objective?
The short answer is no! Without being specific it would seem that certain individuals have used this event to perpetrate their own beliefs and ideology whether this relates to spy stories or UFO’s. Sadly, there are now many websites that have simply recorded the dramatic aspects of this tragic event and over emphasised elements that are, in reality, easily explained. We can only assume that is has been done for the purpose of sensationalism.
Is it true that the Dyatlov Team had a rifle with them and, if so, what happened to it?
The incorrect belief that the Dyatlov team had a rifle with them is based on the photograph shown here.
In actual fact this photograph is taken from an earlier expedition. There are several websites with a significant number of unlabeled photographs that can be found when searching for the Dyatlov Pass incident. Unfortunately they have not been well catalogued and it is easy to make a mistake with regard to what is related to the Dyatlov pass mystery and what is not. According to people involved with the team – they were not armed with a rifle so what became of it is pointless.
What about the absence of Dubanina’s tongue. Many websites discussing this event claim that it was ripped out. Is this true?
It is true that her tongue and parts of her oral cavity were missing when she was discovered two months after the event. This aspect has led people to see a bizarre aspect to this incident that is wholly unjustified. The reality is that her tongue was not ripped out but was degraded though the activity of micro flora and fauna. We now know that this was fully acknowledged at the time (1959),
Is it true that the bodies that were discovered were a strange orange colour?
It is not true that the first bodies that were discovered had a significant orange discolouration. This is because they were found quite soon after the event took place.
The bodies discovered almost two months later did exhibit orange discolouration but this is normal and often experienced by rescue teams that have the unfortunate task of recovering such remains. This aspect of the story has been enhanced by the fact that some of the photographs taken at the time have degenerated and the “sepia” (orange) pigments in the images have become more evident.
How deep was the ravine in which the final four victims were found? Could a natural fall account for their injuries?
The short answer is the ravine was quite deep and the injuries could have easily been caused by the fall. The following is part of an e-mail from Dr. Vladimir B. (a member of the original rescue team) regarding this point:
“The slope of a ravine had a range of heights from 3 up to 5 m (10m or 17 ft) in the general area where the skiers were found. It had an incline or angle of approximately 30 to 40 degrees. The opposite slope of the ravine was flat. The width of the ravine was approximately 40 metres or 130ft. It is quite possible that the injuries recorded could have been sustained by a “sudden” fall – especially given the fact that these people would have been tired and have had limited visibility.”
Is it true that the hair of the Individuals had all turned a strange silver colour?
No! This is pure nonsense. The report of the judicial Doctor (Coroner) actually records that the hair of the victims was all of natural colour.
Was the type of radiation mentioned in some accounts ever identified? Was it superficial or penetrative? What we mean by this is was it something they touched or did it permeate their bodies? The reason that this is important is that it distinguishes between recent weapon use and merely background exposure.
Again, the short answer is: The radiation was superficial and this fact has been known for some time. It is generally irresponsible journalism that has exaggerated the importance of this aspect of the Dyatlov Pass case.
“The radiation referred to has been identified as beta-radiation with the characteristics of isotope K-40. This is very weak contamination and certainly superficial.”
According to various experts the radiation was minor surface contamination and probably from Lyudmila Dubanina’s coat. It was probably from a laboratory environment (Radium, Radon and Potassium) and not from any recent weapons use. A point has been made that prior to the moratorium on atomic weapons testing a fair number of detonations had been carried out in Russia and in other parts of the world. Again, it was not uncommon that small amounts of “fall-out” might be spread far and wide.
Did aircraft (secret or otherwise) with jet engines undertake flights in this region on the date that the “Dyatlov Pass Accident” occurred?
The answer to this question is … “Who knows for certain?” However, it would appear that even after 50 years there are no declassified records of such a test taking place at this time. In addition, it appears that this area of the Ural Mountains was not used for test flights of this kind. There is some evidence to suggest that this changed in the 1970’s.
“Today, there is a civil aviation air-route between Omsk and Syktyvka that does pass over the place where the incident occurred. However, in 1959 this was not the case. As this area was deep inside the Soviet Union there was no need to build such airbases. Jet fighter activity tended to be conducted far to the North or to the South”
According to one of our sources: “The theory about Jet planes seems well constructed but, in reality, is simply unbelievable. The nearest airbase from which such planes could fly was located near Sverdlovsk. That is more than 600km away. The Su 9 and MiG15 had no such radius of action. It was possible to fly planes from Ivdel but these were only the AN-2 and JaK-12 helicopters. The helicopters in question were only type-1’s (Mi-4) and their flight radius was only 200km.”
“Test flights of new planes in the USSR (of all types) were always conducted near the city of Zhukovsky close to Moscow. Tests of air launched weapons took place near the town of Vladimirovka near to Astrakhan. To carry out weapons tests or flight test in the Northern Urals is just plain foolishness. Why not ask Boeing or Grumman whether they test planes in Alaska? (Some text omitted) Even today there is little infrastructure in the Ural Mountains regions and still vehicles such as the America Military Hummer H1 would not be able to pass through even in summer.”
Why did the Soviet Authorities deem this event important enough to classify this subject for 30 years? Have they fully released the files? Where can they be found?
The event was actually never classified – this is the typical exaggeration that can be found on certain sensationalist websites. Any papers that have disappeared are more likely the result of inefficiency or bureaucratic stupidity. Without saying who we’ve worked for in the past we can assure you that this happens all the time!
“There was no reason to classify this event and it wasn’t. Those who were involved at the time merely considered it a sad and inexplicable occurrence.”
Why were the Soviet Authorities evasive?
The simple reason is they hadn’t a logical answer for the behaviour of the ski-team. As such they used generalisms and vague descriptions that can be interpreted almost at will. “There was no reason to classify this event and it wasn’t. Those who were involved at the time merely considered it a sad and inexplicable occurrence.”
Where is the missing envelope that is supposedly identified in the declassified papers? What is in it?
“There is an envelope containing papers but it was never released because it was never classified. It is currently available in the State Archive of the Sverdlovsk District of the Russian Federation. Apparent, some time ago a certain individual reviewed these papers and used them to further his own “publicity” needs. As a result there are now some basic bureaucratic restrictions with regard to their day-to-day access.” It appears that the envelope contains nothing more than general correspondence from the Incident Inspectors to their superiors in Moscow but does refer to some concerns as to what occurred to the Dyatlov team. In the 50’s people were far more obsessed with accurate paperwork than they are today. To seal off a region would have required many and various authorisations and approvals. Where are these records? What reasons do they give for the requested actions that were apparently approved?
According to our sources … “There are no papers because the area was never officially closed. However, it was forbidden that amateur ski-groups similar to the Dyatlov team should venture into the area in order to prevent the repeat of such an accident. In particular, the regional (Soviet) leaders did not wish to have to spend such a significant amount of money on repeating the search and rescue operations that took place. As a result there were few, if any, expeditions to this region until 1962, when a group from the UPI went there to establish a posthumous monument to the victims of the Dyatlov Pass Incident.
One member of the team – Alexander Zolotarev – was significantly older than the others and at 37 almost twice the age of the youngest. What was his profession and what was his connection to the team?
Alexander Zolotarev was a ski / tour instructor (a professional travel guide) and wanted to go together with Dyatlov’s team to add performance points to his degree and so achieve promotion to the rank of “Master” or Expert instructor. This was and still is the practice in Russia. Zolotarev did not know the other team members but was recommended by friends of the team from the sports club. He was accepted into the team and according to the diaries he co-operated and worked well with all of them. It is worth noting that Sports Associations were common at this time as was the willingness for people, who shared an interest such as skiing, to cooperate with each other where possible.
What are the details of the skull injury experienced by Nicolas Thibeaux-Brignollel?
This information alone could go a very long way to solving the mystery. For example, is it an impact injury or a comprehensive pressure injury? Was there retinal detachment? Was he alive or dead when it happened? This information was apparently very precisely recorded by the Judicial Doctor (Coroner) at the time. He recorded that such a head injury was most likely to have been caused by impact with a rock as a result of a fall from a height of 2 – 3 metres (6 to 10ft) but not more. The reason for this is that impacts of this kind only occur at a velocity of up to 7 – 8 Metres per second. Faster impact speeds generally cause a break (breach) at the apex or arch of the skull with little evident trauma to the base. In the case of Nicolas Thibeaux-Brignollel there was no apex related damage.
In addition, the forensic evidence suggests that he was alive when he sustained the injury. It was almost certainly caused by impact and not pressure. According to our information sources the pressure required to create such an injury would have had to be not less than 1 – 1.5 tons. There was no material or evidence of materials that could have caused this pressure. However, by virtue of the process of dynamics such an injury could easily be sustained through impact.
Finally, there was also no recorded evidence that the injury had been sustained as a result of a concussion blast which would have caused additional physical trauma to the bodies and which was not found on any of the unfortunate individuals involved.
The “snowfall anomaly” refers to the fact that some of the bodies found – those returning to the camp – were buried under snow. How is it that enough snow fell to bury these bodies but tracks that were found higher up the hill were preserved in such a good condition that investigators could (allegedly) tell that at least one person had been barefoot?
Apparently this is not unusual at all and is a result of snow and wind dynamics. Snow falling on the mountains at this time of year is subject to strong winds that sweep it down hill. Therefore the impressions made by people in the snow may remain largely intact at higher levels and yet be completely concealed lower down a slope. Another reason for this occurrence is that when snow is compressed by people moving across it can be compacted to a depth of 20 -30 centimetres this compacted snow forms an icy crust that is quite resistant to degradation as long as the temperatures remain well below zero. Even if new snow is deposited on these tracks it is often blown away again at a later date due to the high levels of aeration in the new falls.
The following is a quote from Dr. Vladimir B. Who has taken part in many such rescue operations:
“Once when we searched for a missing ski team in the Polar Ural Mountains there was a night when the wind blew away a layer of snow similar to the amount experienced in the Dyatlov case. We could clearly see two parallel ski-tracks had been revealed and that they went for approximate 100 metres. When we examined the tracks it was possible to actually distinguish prints from the screws which were used to attach the edgings in this old type of ski.”
How is it that the bodies found two months later were under four foot of snow in the ravine but bodies higher up the slope were only under 1 – 1 ½ feet of snow?
According to the Professor N. Volodicheva of Moscow State University, during the months of February and March this part of the region experiences significant deposits of snow which are distributed by a combination of geography and wind factors. (Described above) In general, the principle is that more snow will accumulate at lower levels and usually in drifts. In particular, ravines and gullies will fill quite swiftly. This natural distribution fully explains why Igor Dyatlov was found under a foot of snow while Zinaida Kolmagorova, who was located higher up the slope, was only found covered by only half a foot of snow. It also explains why the searchers who discovered the remaining four bodies in the ravine had to dig though four metres of snow. Time and accumulation had created a significant build-up. (2 – 3 Months)
The seemingly obvious answer to this mystery is that it was an avalanche. Why don’t people believe that this is the case?
The answer to this question has been compiled by a combination of review, first hand testimony and personal investigation. The evidence against an avalanche is as follows: