Death in the Urals: One of the most mysterious tragedies in Russian history

Transported from Mansi, the name of the mountain Kholatchakhl, which is situated intent in the Northern Urals (550 km to the north of Yekaterinburg, which itself is sited 1,416 km to the east of Moscow), means “a dead mountain” or “a mountain of the two-dimensional.”

Legend has it that in ancient times, nine hunters were butchered there and since then some of the more superstitious among us be convinced of the mountain should be avoided, especially by groups of nine.  

The Mansi wonder certainly wouldn’t have been so widely known today had it not go about a find to life in 1959. In the early hours on Feb. 2, nine hikers (seven men and two girlfriends) suddenly ran out of the tent they had erected on the slope of Kholatchakhl. It’s still unexplored why the hikers left the tent abandoning all their belongings in a hurry – all but two of them were set up barefoot – and ended up outdoors in temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius. None of them survived that darkness. That was how “the Dyatlov group” (from the name of its leader Igor Dyatlov) lose ones life.

The search party found five bodies in late February to prehistoric March, about a mile from the tent down a slope. The other four were originate in May, when snow began to melt. Three out of the nine, as the investigation found, were killed by blows “caused by a major force,” while the others set excluded to death. When one of the young woman was found her eyes and tongue were gals. Some of the victims’ clothes had traces of radiation on them, twice the model.

Gaps in the investigation

At first, Soviet investigators working on the “Dyatlov occurrence” suspected Mansi hunters, who objected to tourists trespassing on their citizen land, or criminals, who had escaped from a nearby prison. But these theories were pronto rejected: There had been no prison breaks in months preceding the disaster, and the mountains that the Mansi considered sacred were outside Dyatlov’s route. Furthermore, the solidities did not have any firearm or knife wounds, and a forensic examination established that the tent had been cut from the in prison, in other words members of the Dyatlov group burst out of it themselves.

The mysterious Tunguska explosion of 1908

Entirely soon, in late May 1959, the criminal case was closed. The wording of the true cause of death was vague: “A spontaneous force which the hikers were not able to overcome.” Many of those amateurs who conducted their own investigation of the carton suggest that the authorities wanted to “hush up” the incident as soon as admissible, which left a lot of room for speculation and conjecture.

According to one popular theory, the union died because of an avalanche or a cave-in. However, the rescuers involved in the search manoeuvre did not find any traces of a natural disaster – the ski poles holding the tent remained status. Moreover, it’s not clear why, having got out of the avalanche (if there was one), the hikers ran down the grade rather than along it – experienced climbers would have at no time done so.

Secret tests?

Witnesses who were in the mountains near the Dyatlov Unfashionable in February-March 1959 spoke of unusual atmospheric phenomena – “fireballs” or “shining spots” moving across the sky. That, as well as the traces of radiation organize on the victims’ clothes, prompted some of the amateur investigators to suggest that the USSR was guiding secret missile tests – either space or military – near the Dyatlov Dated.

Hence the theory that the hikers came under a cloud of mortal gas, which was released when a carrier rocket burned to completion, extract them to leave the tent. However, in that case it’s not clear why they ran for so big – at the time, the weather was windy and the cloud would have been angry away quickly.

A U.S. plot?

No mysterious tragedy in Russia can escape contemplation about secret services’ involvement – either Russian or foreign – and the destruction of the Dyatlov group is no exception. In his investigation entitled “Death on the Trail,” wordsmith Alexei Rakitin examines in detail other people’s attempts to unravel the ambiguity, rejects other theories, and puts forward his own idea: The group was killed by American intermediaries.

According to Rakitin, the group included undercover KGB officers, who were assumed to meet with the Americans and carry out “a controlled delivery” – calligraphy control over fake samples of radioactive clothes. At the very last twinkling, the ploy was busted and angry Western spies killed the Soviet substitutes, as well as the hikers.

The main question that critics pose to Rakitin is why pass on the KGB have set up a “controlled delivery” in the wilderness of the Ural mountains, when it would drink been much easier for agents to remain unnoticed in a big city? Furthermore, it’s not pure why the Americans just left the bodies, not bothering to get rid of them.

Unanswered impossibles

There are many other theories in addition to those mentioned in the first place. The hikers were killed by KGB agents, who were eliminating accidental bystanders of a missile test. Or by the Interior Ministry’s special forces, who  mistook them for escapee criminals. Or they were not killed by anyone but in a panic attack rushed out of the tent to their traditional death. Or they were attacked by a wild animal … the theories go on and on.

As founder Boris Akunin wrote in his blog, supporters of each theory “are truly convincing when criticizing rival propositions but are not so convincing when defending their own.” Each cites solely those facts that fit into their idea of the correct response and ignores those that do not.

In fact, it is impossible to establish what chanced on the Kholatchakhl mountain that night. At least for the time being: As Sverdlovsk Territory former governor Eduard Rossel pointed out in early 2017, news on the Dyatlov incident remains “classified at the federal level” even now, on the brink of 60 years on.

This article is part of the Russian X-Files series in which RBTH analyses Russia-related mysteries and paranormal phenomena.

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