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23:48

Follow in the footsteps of Igor Dyatlov and his ill-fated expedition *GRAPHIC*

Russian Federation, Urals
September 12, 2019 at 06:28 GMT +00:00 · Published

On 23 January 1959, Igor Dyatlov and his group of hikers embarked upon an expedition through the northern Ural Mountains from which they would not return. The mysterious circumstances surrounding their deaths have become the stuff of legend not only in Russia, but around the world. Sixty years later, the case into their disappearance has been reopened and Ruptly went to the site in the northern Urals to find out if, after all this time, there is any chance the case can be closed.

This in-depth look into the tragedy retraces the final footsteps of the expedition and includes interviews with a leading forensic expert and a journalist who have been looking into the case for decades and both attended the scene of the death, local Mansi people and chance encounters with people who live near the site along the way.

The Soviet criminal probe at the time uncovered their tent in a remote area in the Urals, which had been slashed open from the inside by a sharp object, with all the group’s belongings, including shoes, left inside and intact.

The investigators later discovered the students' bodies, with several having suffered serious head wounds. It has never been established what forced the hikers to flee their campsite in the dead of night.

Medical tests conducted back then showed that six of the group died of hypothermia, the rest from other injuries.

For 60 years, there has been speculation about what exactly happened in Dyatlov Pass. Some have suggested a drug-fueled fight set off the events, while others suspect locals murdered the group. Theories ranging from an alien attack to secret nuclear tests have also flourished. The incident has even been the inspiration for numerous films, documentaries and TV series.

The investigators have excluded all the more sensational versions, and are currently considering three possible hypotheses: avalanche, hurricane, and what is called “snow board,” where a layer of fine snow consisting of crystals densely packed by wind moves, which could explain how the tents were destroyed and people injured.

Back in March 2019, Russian prosecutors conducted a week-long expedition to the eastern ridge of "Height 1079", known to indigenous Mansi people as Kholat Syakhl or the Deadly Mountain, where the incident occurred, to conduct various tests with the hope of better determining what happened there.

The investigation’s latest results are expected this Autumn.

23:48
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this file is on request. please reach out to cd@ruptly.tv or call : +49 30 319872-300 for access or licensing information. mandatory courtesy to archive photos: dyatlov group memory fund

Description

On 23 January 1959, Igor Dyatlov and his group of hikers embarked upon an expedition through the northern Ural Mountains from which they would not return. The mysterious circumstances surrounding their deaths have become the stuff of legend not only in Russia, but around the world. Sixty years later, the case into their disappearance has been reopened and Ruptly went to the site in the northern Urals to find out if, after all this time, there is any chance the case can be closed.

This in-depth look into the tragedy retraces the final footsteps of the expedition and includes interviews with a leading forensic expert and a journalist who have been looking into the case for decades and both attended the scene of the death, local Mansi people and chance encounters with people who live near the site along the way.

The Soviet criminal probe at the time uncovered their tent in a remote area in the Urals, which had been slashed open from the inside by a sharp object, with all the group’s belongings, including shoes, left inside and intact.

The investigators later discovered the students' bodies, with several having suffered serious head wounds. It has never been established what forced the hikers to flee their campsite in the dead of night.

Medical tests conducted back then showed that six of the group died of hypothermia, the rest from other injuries.

For 60 years, there has been speculation about what exactly happened in Dyatlov Pass. Some have suggested a drug-fueled fight set off the events, while others suspect locals murdered the group. Theories ranging from an alien attack to secret nuclear tests have also flourished. The incident has even been the inspiration for numerous films, documentaries and TV series.

The investigators have excluded all the more sensational versions, and are currently considering three possible hypotheses: avalanche, hurricane, and what is called “snow board,” where a layer of fine snow consisting of crystals densely packed by wind moves, which could explain how the tents were destroyed and people injured.

Back in March 2019, Russian prosecutors conducted a week-long expedition to the eastern ridge of "Height 1079", known to indigenous Mansi people as Kholat Syakhl or the Deadly Mountain, where the incident occurred, to conduct various tests with the hope of better determining what happened there.

The investigation’s latest results are expected this Autumn.

00:00 – 00:23

W/S Introduction, Dyatlov Pass, Archive Photos

00:24 – 00:46

SOT, Eduard Tumanov, Doctor of forensics at Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University (Russian): “The injuries described in the Dyatlov forensic medical report are identical to the ones represented here on these dummies, which gives use reason to assume that these injuries could be received in self defence.”

00:46 – 01:02

SOT, Vladimir Sungorkin, Komsomolskaya Pravda Editor-in-Chief (Russian): “Dyatlov Pass is the most intriguing story I’ve ever come across, really, it’s a story that’s fascinating to try and figure out and put the pieces of the puzzle together.”

01:01 – 01:20

M/S Hotel in Perm

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “It’s about 07:00 in Perm at the moment, and as you see, it’s still dark outside, but my guides are coming to my hotel in around 30 minutes, so I think it’s time to pack.”

01:21 – 01:35

W/S Car

01:32 – 02:24

SOT, Irina Cherdakova, Severnyi Ural tour guide (Russian): “Actually, my personal opinion about this story, this mystery, is that the dead should be left in peace. The materials have been classified, the story is still of great interest, it’s not clear what really happened there, and this mystery has always captured people's imaginations. Well, maybe the most likely story is the one about the rocket. The version that there was nothing to breathe and the people panicked. Despite this, there is still the question of why experienced tourists set up their tent in such a bad place, when they had previously made camp by a creek, with water and food nearby, and there was no wind. On the mountainside, where the wind is very strong, and in this weather, in winter. No hiker in their right mind would pitch a tent there.”

02:25 – 02:32

W/S Car

02:33 – 02:39

M/S Car in Severnyi

02:40 – 02:55

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Is that him?”

SOT, Irina Cherdakova, Severnyi Ural tour guide (Russian): “It looks like it.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Yes? Excellent.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Hello, Aleksei?”

SOT, Aleksei, Mansi guide (Russian): “Aleksei.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Peter, nice to meet you.”

02:56 – 03:27

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Yes, I’m going to Dyatlov Pass. They’ve reopened the investigation and we decided to go and film it. What do you think happened there 60 years ago?”

SOT, Local (Russian): “It was a rocket. I found a rocket there.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “You did?!”

SOT, Local (Russian): “Yeah.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Really?! No way! Did you, well, give it to someone as evidence?”

SOT, Local (Russian): “No, I haven't told anyone yet.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Apart from me.”

03.28 – 03:35

Archive photos

03:36 – 03:41

M/S Unpacking car at guest house, Vizhai

03:42 – 03:51

SOT, Vladislav, Guest house owner (Russian): “Vlad, that’s the short version, but it’s Vladislav.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Nice to meet you Vlad, I’m Pete if we’re using nicknames.”

03:52 – 04:09

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “This is our room for the night, there are five beds and the son of the owner says that the investigator will go to Dyatlov Pass tomorrow. So tomorrow we’ll get up early and I hope that we’ll catch him there.”

04:10 – 05:09

W/S Shots of leaving Vizhai for Ushma on snowmobile

05:10 – 05:40

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “We’re now travelling through the forest, then again along the river. It’s hard to imagine how, around 60 years ago, Dyatlov and his team came through this area. Furthermore, without modern equipment, transport or navigation systems and even though he was experienced, it’s easy to understand how he got into difficulty.”

05:41 – 05:48

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “EMERCOM of Russia, incidentally.”

05:49 – 06:12

W/S Travelling, archive photos, arrival in Ushma

06:13 – 06:46

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Hello, hello.”

SOT, Local man (Russian): “What's the tragedy here? Well, people died, and who knows how?”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Nobody. There are so many theories.”

SOT, Local man (Russian): “Yes, of course nobody. There used to be soldiers and settlers here. Who knows, who did it? It happened in the 1960s, who knows now what exactly had happened?”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “I think it’s unlikely they’ll uncover anything new.”

SOT, Local man (Russian): “They won’t! What could they find? I think it was the army, what sort of avalanche could there be here?”

06:47 – 07:26

SOT, Vladimir Sungorkin, Komsomolskaya Pravda Editor-in-Chief (Russian): “What does ‘military theory’ even mean? So a rocket went off course, what's next? They say that there was a missile testing range here. This is absurd. What is a testing range? It is a specially-equipped site. There are devices there, there is surveillance. Everything is cordoned off. And these mountains were climbed by five groups of tourists. It is a popular place, because the mountains are bare and beautiful, and the taiga is also beautiful. There were five groups of tourists there. And they all went through Ushma. They put one soldier in Ushma and told him not to let anyone pass. That's it.”

07:27 – 07:31

W/S Drone shots of Ushma

07:32 – 07:54

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “How are things with the snowmobile?”

SOT, Local man (Russian): “You’ll be moving soon.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Yeah? What happened?”

SOT, Local man (Russian): “A bearing broke and I bought one off him.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Do you have spares?”

SOT, Local man (Russian): “I bought one off him.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “It looks quite serious in my opinion.”

07:55 – 08:26

M/S Ushma

08:27– 09:01

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Sorry for coming so unexpectedly.”

SOT, Aunty Masha, Ushma resident (Russian): “I thought the wind was strong in the mountains. So they put tent up. They were sleeping. And so, they jumped out of the tent. Especially because it was winter, there was strong wind, fog, heavy snowfall.”

09:02 – 09:21

M/S Journey to Dyatlov Pass

09:22 – 09:43

Arrival at investigator’s camp

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “How are you?”

SOT, EMERCOM worker (Russian): “Great, how about you?”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Not bad, not bad, thanks.”

09:44 – 10:18

SOT, Andrey Valentinovich Kuryakov, Head of the Department for Supervision over the Execution Administration of Federal Legislation (Russian): “Mikhail, note down the coordinate. We’re establishing the precise coordinate of this location and the height. Let’s move on to the next point.”

10:23 – 11:45

SOT, Andrey Valentinovich Kuryakov, Head of the Department for Supervision over the Execution Administration of Federal Legislation (Russian): “Today, along with geodesy and cartography specialists, we established the coordinates of the points we need for future analysis. What are these points? Height 905, these are the three tent locations that have been determined by different methods, all within 100 meters’ in diameter. We have determined the coordinates of each of these places on the ground and took panoramic photos. So we now have the materials to give to the experts. We also took a photo of the Holatchahl slope from the tent to the cedar. The photos were taken from the slope of 905. We have seen the whole route, the trajectory of the route, and now we can more accurately and more qualitatively address the experts. What are we doing this for? I would like to emphasise once again: In order to provide the relatives with answers. They have every right to know this information. First of all. And secondly, to prevent such incidents in the future. Today we were there. We were on the mountain with the group. We were in the toughest conditions.”

11:46 – 11:58

M/S Pushing snowmobile on way to Dyatlov Pass

11:59 – 12:04

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “That slope was too steep for our Burans so we’re going by foot.”

12:05 – 12:45

W/S Reaching monument on Dyatlov pass

12:46 – 13:07

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “At last, we’ve reached Dyatlov Pass. It’s nothing special to look at, there are loads of places like this in Russia and the world, but the tragic fate of Dyatlov and his expedition means that this place continues to draw people in from all over the world.”

13:08 – 13:30

M/S Dyatlov Pass monument

13:31 – 13:48

M/S Emergency supplies box

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Matches, stewed meat, Gazprom flag, I hope that nobody will need them.”

13:49 – 14:20

SOT, Valery Aniamov, Nature Reserve Worker (Russian): “I think I'm leaning towards the version with the rocket too. Perhaps, a rocket stage came down. And that caused panic and the students ran down the mountain.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Without clothes?”

SOT, Valery Aniamov, Nature Reserve Worker (Russian): “Yes. As they were asleep, already in the tent. As the stage of the rocket fell, they ran away in fear.”

14:21 – 15:06

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “It says ‘A candleholder belonging to the Dyatlov group was found here. One and a half kilometres to the cedar.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “It’s exactly from here that Dyatlov and his expedition abandoned their tent in the middle of the night and set off downhill almost naked and barefoot.”

15:07 – 15:32

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “The first body was 850 metres from here. Is that roughly where the trees are?”

SOT, Ilya, Mansi guide (Russian): “Past the birch trees.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Past the birches. Shall we go to the first point? Let me put that away.”

15:33 – 16:54

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “This is where they found Zina, 850 metres from the tent. But she reached the cedar from the tent and crawled back. She lasted the longest. There is a theory that they went back for supplies. Why do you think they headed down the slope? For water?”

SOT, Ilya, Mansi guide (Russian): “Water and to shelter from the wind.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “There are 75 theories, they’ve already ruled out this one, but one theory has it that this happened because of the local people, because of the Mansi. What do you think about this? You even find it funny.”

SOT, Ilya, Mansi guide (Russian): “They only come here in the summer, at the end of May to hunt deer.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “So there aren’t even any Mansi here at that time of year?”

SOT, Ilya, Mansi guide (Russian): “When the snow falls, they go to the forest.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Let’s go to the next point.”

16:55 – 17:19

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “This is where they found Dyatlov himself in honour of whom they named this pass. He froze to death. They found blood in his organs and he last ate something between six and eight hours before he died. No alcohol was found.”

17:20 – 18:39

SOT, Eduard Tumanov, Doctor of forensics at Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University (Russian): “Dyatlov. He has small grazes on his face, the protruding parts of his face, which allows us to suppose that they could have been caused by him falling face first in the snow. These abrasions happened because his legs were tied together with something. They were either handcuffed or shackled, or bound with some sort of rope, because, in the cold, rope freezes up and becomes fairly solid. There is a very interesting note in the forensic medical report: there are red-brown coloured grazes and indentations around the front, side and rear surfaces of both ankles. It’s interesting that he has abrasions on his metacarpophalangeal joints, which are here. What does this mean? He hit his hands against something or someone. Judging by everything, there was a fight.”

18:39 – 18:55

W/S Archive photos

18:56 – 19:12

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “I’m in up to my waist.”

19:13 – 19:21

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Someone lit a campfire here, like the Dyatlov expedition. They also lit a fire here. Some branches were broken off.”

19:21 – 19:40

SOT, Eduard Tumanov, Doctor of forensics at Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University (Russian): “So they light a fire and take their clothes off to dry them, at which point something or someone terrifies them and they start to climb up the cedar tree, because they have injuries consistent with climbing up a tree trunk.”

19:40 – 20:38

SOT, Vladimir Sungorkin, Komsomolskaya Pravda Editor-in-Chief (Russian): “They climbed up the cedar. They’re all scratched up. One of them has a piece of finger they’ve bitten off in their mouth. It remained in his mouth, he bit his finger off. So he died, it’s clear he bit his finger off because he was in agony, otherwise, why else would you bite your own finger off? He died there as a result of this pain and this piece of finger remained in his mouth. We established the following: when they analysed burns on his leg, they once thought that he fell and was burnt, but the burn did not show this. The person was either hung above the fire or they took a log from the fire and burned him on the cedar from below. Can you imagine this? It’s unusual to say the least.”

20:39 – 21:00

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Someone left some sweets here. ‘yarche’ [Brighter], sesame seeds in soft caramel.”

SOT, Ilya, Mansi guide (Russian): “They leave them for that person.”

SOT, Correspondent (Russian): “Dyatlov?”

SOT, Ilya, Mansi guide (Russian): “Yes.”

21:00 – 21:58

SOT, Vladimir Sungorkin, Komsomolskaya Pravda Editor-in-Chief (Russian): “When one of the most mysterious characters, the most mysterious person in the group called Zolotarev got on the train, he was accompanied by a big group of students and he said ‘We are going on such an unusual hike that we’ll be renowned afterwards.’ We have no explanation for this, it’s absurd. Why would you become famous just going hiking? One could theorise that they were conducting some sort of experiments with drugs, adaptogens, performance enhancing drugs. Maybe for the military, the KGB, or cosmonauts. Maybe, having taken this medicine, unknown to us, they could lose their minds and kill each other in all these different ways.”

21:59 – 23:16

SOT, Eduard Tumanov, Doctor of forensics at Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University (Russian): “Straight away we can rule out death by avalanche, explosion, we can rule out chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, electromagnetic weapons etc. The theory that animals attacked, bears, wolverines, etc. there are no injuries consistent with an animal attack. Judging by the chaotic nature of the injuries, variety, would suggest that there was not one single object that would have caused these injuries to everyone. In summary, one could assert that someone attacked them, someone without a firearm, or at least they didn’t use it, without a knife, or they didn’t use it, all the injuries were caused exclusively by hard, blunt objects. They were probably inflicted by a human hand.”

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