Skip To Content
    Oct 20, 2017

    The Strange Deaths of the 9 Hikers of Dytalov Pass

    Research notes for Supernatural Season 1 Episode 5

    **Research compiled for Ryan on March 24, 2016 by Mariana Uribe.

    • The date was February 2, 1959. A group of 9 Russian skiers from Ural State Technical University ripped open their tent from the inside, and seemingly wandered out into the snow, for reasons unknown, some wearing nothing but underwear and socks.

    • 5 of the bodies were found 3 weeks later, while the other 4 were not found for 2 months after that.

    • Some of the bodies that were found later were wearing clothes that belonged to the people whose bodies had been found earlier.
    • When the clothes were tested, traces of radiation were discovered on them.

    • Some members of the party had fractured skulls, broken ribs, and one even had a missing tongue.

    • All those participating were experienced in these types of expeditions.

    • It is named after Igor Dyatlov, who organized the trip. Only one member, a 10th member who had left the expedition early because he was sick, survived.

    • The expedition began late January (dates have ranged from various different sources so it would be safest to say “late January” here)

    • Photograph rolls found at the site later revealed that the group set up their camp the evening of February 2nd on a mountain next to Otorten mountain, which was the mountain they were set to explore.

    • The nearby indigenous Mansi tribe calls the mountain “Kholat Syakhl”, which supposedly means “mountain of the dead,” a translation that we could not verify on Mansi-English online dictionaries.

    • There was reportedly a forest about a mile away, but they did not set up camp there for some reason, even though the forest would have provided some more shelter.

    • The group was supposed to be back in contact by Feb 12th. On the 20th, people realized something might be wrong with the party, and they were found on the 26th.


    • The tent looked as if it had been cut open from the inside.

    • Footprints for 8 or 9 people were found in the direction leaving the tent and towards the nearby treeline (which was about a mile away from where they set up camp).

    • Shoes and gear were not taken with them, and it appeared that at least a few had left the camp either barefoot or just in socks.

    • There was no evidence of an outsider entering the tent.

    • 2 bodies, only in their underwear, were found at the trees 1 mile away. Branches were broken in the tree above which led some to believe that an attempt to climb the tree may have been made. There were remains of a fire close by as well.

    • A third of the way from the tent to the treeline, there were no footprints. However, since 3 weeks had most likely passed since the incident, it is likely that new the weather in that time is what covered up the footprints.

    • 3 bodies were found between the camp and the tree, in a position that implied that the 3 were headed from the tree back to the camp. One of these three bodies had a fractured skull.

    • According to doctors at the time, the 5 aforementioned people died of hypothermia (including the person with the fractured skull, which doctors said was not fatal)

    • 2 months later, the 4 other bodies were found, down the slope from the tree where the first 2 were found. One of these 4 had a fractured skull as well. One had crushed ribs. One woman had crushed ribs AND a missing tongue.

    • All of these details were puzzling because there was no outward trauma to the bodies, and the trauma was caused by a force that was determined to be too strong for a human to cause.

    • The last 4 that were found were found wearing the clothes of the other parties, so it seemed that they had removed the clothes of the others after they had died and used them for warmth. The clothes on these 4 were tested and radioactivity was found on the clothes.

    • One possible explanation is “paradoxical undressing”, which is could be effect of hypothermia. This is when hypothermia victims remove their clothes, because their bodies start to feel as if they are burning (and they are already super disoriented to begin with at this point)

    • Hypothermia victims, while freezing, could also do what is called “terminal burrowing” that is, mimicking the act of getting under covers or or finding some sort of protection.


    • One theory is that there was an avalanche that buried the tent (which was why they had to cut themselves out from the inside), during which hypothermia set in, which could explain why they left without any gear (they were likely confused and disoriented).

    • However, the radioactivity is strange and unexplainable.

    • Another suspicious point - documents about the case were sealed after the case was closed.

    • Also, in an interview, the lead investigator on the case, Lev Ivanov (who was the first to note the radioactivity) said that a Geiger counter (which detects radiation) was going crazy in the area of the campsite. He also said that Soviet officials told him to shut the case at the time.
    • There were also supposedly reports of “bright flying spheres” in the area in February and March of that year.

    • Supposedly, one boy who attended some of the funerals described all the bodies as “deeply tanned.”

    • There was no evidence of an explosion or nuclear testing.

    • It’s a popular case for conspiracy theorists and alien lovers because of its mysterious nature and the fact that it is unsolved.

    • Supposedly, authorities ultimately determined that an “unknown compelling force” caused it.

    • In January 2016, a body was reportedly found on the same mountain. It was supposedly found by 9 hikers in the area, and then police lost contact with them and had to wait for weather conditions to improve before going to search for the body.

    • Yuri Yudin, the 10th person on the expedition, got dysentery and stayed behind around January 28th. He died in 2013.
    • In the 90s, an investigator on the case wrote an article called “Secret of the Fireballs,” in which it was suggested that the aforementioned fireballs or lights in the sky that were reportedly seen by others nearby had something to do with the incident. (unclear if this investigator is Lev Ivanov)
    • A doctor who was part of the autopsies said that it was possible an explosion could have caused the internal trauma that was found on some of the bodies. This led people to believe that perhaps the deaths were caused by a Soviet test missile. However, no records of a missile being launched at the time have been located

    • In an interview before his death, Yuri Yudin stated that he helped investigators identify pieces of clothing at the site, and who they belonged to. He said that there was one article he could not identify - a piece of cloth he said looked like it could have military origin. Yudin believed that the Soviet military could have played a role in some ways. Other articles he could not identify were a pair of glasses, and a set of skis. This led him to believe that perhaps the military found the bodies before the rescuers did.

    Yudin once said:
    “If they were really killed by a natural force, then there would be no secret, and we would not be talking about this 53 years on.”

    He also said

    “If I had a chance to ask God just one question, it would be, 'What really happened to my friends that night?’”


    A new PS4 horror game (narrated by Sean Bean) called Kholat is loosely based on the Dyatlov Pass incident was released in early March. Popular YouTuber PewDiePie played it.