A native fellow of mine walk through the deep snow hour after hour by the side of his dogs for the mere pleasure of walking in the snow. (W.G.Bogoras).
The “Incident of the Dyatlov Pass” refers to an accident in which a group of hikers, seven men and two women, was involved. It occurred in a remote location of the Urals mountains, former USSR, in February 1959. Eight members of the group were students from the Polytechnic of the Urals of Yekaterinburg in their early twenties, one was a thirty-eight years old veteran. All the hikers were experienced in winter hiking.
On January 26th they left the last inhabited settlement of Vizhay and began skiing to the final destination, the Otorten mountain (1200 m asl), located in a wild area, the realm of deer hunters belonging to the Ural indigenous known as the Mansi People. The group was last seen on January 28th, when one of the expedition member was forced to go back to Vizhay due to health condition.
Research for the missing group started with a delay due to lack of communication. A month later, the 26th of February, searchers found the tent of the group, abandoned in the snowy scenario of what is now called “Dyatlov Pass”, after Igor Dyatlov, the group leader who was expecting to get his “Sport Master” after leading the fourteen days expedition classified as a Class III ski hiking. The tent was found torn down and lacerated. The group equipment, including food, clothes, axes, backpacks, cameras, money and the diary were inside the tent, left behind by the missing hikers, together with nine pair of shoes. The stove was not installed. Outside the tent, a pair of skis and an ice axe were sticking in the snow, and a couple of objects were also found, a jacket and a torchlight in off position.
Once recovered, the travel diary provided the description of the approach to the destination of the journey until day January 31st, when the group left some equipment down in the valley and ascended to settle the camp for the night near Kholat Syakhl, a minor mountain located on the ridge, 17 km away from Otorten. No particularly useful information could be retrieved from the log concerning any particular phenomenon or encounter, except for their observation of many traces left behind by Mansi hunters found during the approach march.
After a brief and approximate inspection of the camp, the searchers tracked a regular line a footprints left by six to nine people leading downslope from the tent for almost 500 metres, then entering into the tree line. There, the searchers discovered the frozen bodies of two of the Dyatlov’s hikers lying below a cedar tree, where they also found signs of a small fire and some clothing. The branches of the tree were broken up to five meters of height. The next day, three more bodies were discovered, about 300 m from the cedar tree and in a such a position suggesting that those three hikers were on their way back to the tent. One of the three bodies was Igor Dyatlov. The deaths were reportedly caused by hypothermia without further investigation, even if one of the body revealed minor skull fracture.
The remaining members of the group were found two months later, the 5th of May, 75 m away from the cedar tree, into a ravine. The bodies revealed multiple severe chest and skull fractures and the cause of death, at least for some of this last found hikers, was related to severe physical injuries, even if no external wounds were visible, as if, as the coroner reported, the body have been exposed to a very high pressure, comparable to the injuries usually related to a car crash. One corpse was deprived of the tongue; another one, of the eye balls. Near the corpses, the searchers found a stack of branches and this fact was interpreted as the hikers erected a some kind of shelter before their death.
Observation related to the livor mortis suggested that some of the corpses were moved after death, probably when other members of the group deprived them of part of their clothes. All the corpses were wearing light clothes and just socks or felt boots.
The investigation file contents include trip diary and developed photos taken by the cameras of the hikers, together with pictures and findings from the autopsy, and a vast serie of testimony reports.
Traces of radioactive contamination were found on some recovered clothing. The tent was examined and focus on lacerations revealed that the cuts were probably have been made with a blade from inside the tent. Apart from these, no other abnormal evidence was recovered from either the diary or the developed pictures of the trip.
The investigator concluded that, once the camp was established on Kholat Syakhl, at some point the group got out from the tent and moved into an unknown and uninhabited glacial land with no outer clothes, boots, hats, gloves, tools.
It was implicit that a well experienced and motivated group of fit young people would have moved out from the camp, probably ripping the tent and leaving everything behind, only if forced by an extraordinary serious threat which, as today, has never been identified.
The Dyatlov Pass site is currently the object of a sort of pilgrimage and every visitor is fascinated by the unresolved mystery. Along the years, many theories have been proposed to explain what happened at the Dyatlov Pass. They all introduce an external cause as a natural, human or paranormal phenomenon to identify what forced the hikers to abruptly rip up the tent and escape from the camp, fearing for their life and finding their death by natural cause or by a some kind of human or supernatural intervention.
All the theories have flaws and definitely fail to find a logical, coherent and simple ground. The hypothesis can be summarized as a variation of the following themes.
-Natural causes: avalanche or Infrasound or extremely bad weather condition. It is clear that the camp was not hit by an avalanche and that the mountain slopes above the camp are not even steep enough to generate a slavine. Nevertheless, the hikers could have mistaken an unidentified vibration or thunder or light (see below, infrasound, secret launches or nuclear experiments or meteorites) like if it was an approaching avalanche. If so, it is not explained why, after they realized that there was not a real threat, they continued to paradoxically move for over 1000 meters away from the camp, all together descending in the same valley that would have conveyed an eventual avalanche, which would have taken to them at least one hour, and why then, they all died.
Strong winds theoretically could produce noise and vibration which could have been mistaken for an avalanche or for something else, equally frightening. Particularly, a research shows that the terrain morphology could be favourable to very low vibration induced by the so called Karman Vortex which, actually, is the same phenomenon that makes overhead electrical cable vibrate and produce noise. Again, a theoretical phenomenon can’t explain a paradoxical reaction of the group and an inexplicable death.
Extremely bad weather condition like strong winds or low temperature is something that could have hit the hikers, and, as a matter of fact, soviet statistics on winter hiking accidents in those years show a great number of casualties due to bad weather, but again: no particularly hard condition were reported in those days and such a final outcome is far from everything has been ever recorded.
-Secret launches or nuclear experiments or meteorite: there are no evidence of an explosion, wreckage, debris, radiation or any other kind of anomalies, except for the low level of contamination found in the clothing of two hikers that may have very well come from a college laboratory and not from a direct exposure to an explosion which, indeed, should have affected all the group and the surroundings, leaving much more evidence than that. Further, at that time, due to US and USSR nuclear weapon tests or nuclear facilities accidents, like the Kyshtym disaster, which happened not far from the area, exposure to fallout radiation was not uncommon in many areas of the world.
-Police or KGB agents chasing hikers mistaken for escaped Gulag prisoners, or infiltrated CIA agents; or foreign special forces killing hikers to eliminate witnesses of their presence; or native Mansi People hunters robbing the Hikers or punishing them for the violation of a sacred land. These hypothesis cant’be be ruled out completely but the “crime-scene” does not provide a single clue to any of the criminal case fundamental question, particularly: there were no signs of other people in the area at all.
-UFO or tele-transportation experiment or cryptozoological explanation i.e. the snowman or Yeti or some kind of unidentified creature: since no evidence of such phenomena ever existed, it is extremely unlikely that those explanation could find ground.
LOOKING FORWARD FOR A CONCEIVABLE EXPLANATION
It all started one years ago. My friend Nicobar reminded me the Dyatlov case and we discussed all night long, sitting in a bar of Upper Midwest Side. He also provided me with a copy of a recent book which found the explanation of the case in infrasound waves generated by the wind. I couldn’t believe that such a book was even been written. Infrasound waves? are you kidding me? Well, he replied, there are no other explanation. I mean, there is not another conceivable theory, if you don’t believe in UFO, naturally, don’t you? The question is one of those questions which takes you much further than you can think.
Naturally, I don’t. At least, I don’t believe in UFO being part of our close Universe. So, what do I believe? There should be an explanation, a simple and coherent story that does explain the Dyatlov Pass accident, one that does not account for unnecessary external or supernatural agents, or rare physical events, one founded on a common human pattern behavior and on public domain information, taking into consideration the fact that some observation could have been misinterpreted or unreported due to investigation mistakes or to the understable need not to release some information. Does such an explanation exist?
My answer was: I don’t know, I’ll tell you later.
I thought about it for a while, I made some research and now I can say: yes, it does exist. I don’t know if it represents what really happened that on the 1st of February 1959. I’m more interested in the fact that a reasonable solution exists. It’s more a mathematical solution, if you know what I mean, but it is surprising, in many ways. There is only one single detail that cannot be proved, even if it is highly probable. Nevertheless, it appears to me the only valid explanation, ever.
The explanation provides a reasonable solution to the questions:
1) why the hikers got out from the tent;
2) why they moved to the tree line with light clothing and no snow boots;
3) how they were injured.
Before to keep going, you could be intrigued by the accident and you would like to learn more about it. Those who are interested could activate the browser translation feature to get access to the original russian document, including the original criminal case file.
A good starting point is the website:
Wikipedia provides many references:
The group led by Dyatlov was well motivated to achieve its purpose, which is to get a Sport Master grade or, rather, as all the hikers in the group consciously felt, to pass a survival test in a hostile environment. Why going on a Class III winter hike, if not for showing to themselves and to their friend that they were good alpinist? Alpinists do what they do not because it is easy, but because it is difficult. During the approach trip, the morale was high and nothing presaged that the company could have found some kind of impediment. We can try to identify ourselves with those cheerful and lively boys, practicing camaraderie and eager to confront a test, not extremely difficult or arduous, but nonetheless a hard one. You can imagine what they could have felt during the preparation of the trip, because you remember of yourself, in some kind of similar experience with your friends, when you were young: a trip, some nights in a tent, willing to confront with the outdoor condition, feeling courageous, strong, fearless.
Dyatlov was almost an alpine master. He made all effort in the preparedness of the hike, including a study of the terrain. He chose to reach Otorten Mountain through what is now called the Dyatlov Pass, along a 17 km long flat ridge. The group could have covered such a distance to the Otorten top and come back to the camp, provided good weather condition and light equipment load, in a single day of skiing.
Up to know, all the provided theories are based on the assumption that the group got to the Pass after a full hiking day, under bad weather condition and that then they settled the camp at sunset and prepared for dinner when something happened.
As a matter of fact, there is no proof for that.
Keep in mind that at the beginning of the last day, they’re very close to their goal, the mountain is just above them. Let’s look at a different scenario.
The group is eager to confront with the mountain, so they leave early in the morning. They ascend the ridge along a 2 km hike which could take no more than a couple of hours. They’re at the Pass around noon. The weather condition at Ivdel Weather Station shows for that day cloud over 2,500 m of height, or even breaking, no wind and temperature around -14*C. It was not a bad day, down in Ivdel!
So here they are, the hikers get to the pass at noon, the weather is better than what they thought and what do they see? They see in clear light all the flat ridge in front of them and, at the end, the white cap of the Otorten Mountain. From their point of view, their goal is within reach, at the other side of the ridge. What was just a Dyatlov’s hope, is now more a real chance: they could leave early the next morning, touch base at summit and come back in the span of a single long day. The morale is definitely high.
What do they need to do, now? They need to set the camp for the night, and set it in a comfortable way: the night will be cold at altitude, probably colder than any other night they passed in the tent and they need to preserve all the energies for the next long day. Moreover, they need to be sure that everything is ready for their comeback, when they probably will be tired and cold, wishing just to heat the stove to melt the snow to produce drinking water and dig into their sleeping bags. Keep in mind that on the mountain no liquid water is available at all, except by melting a huge amount of snow, one bucket to get one liter, which takes a very long time. The water can then be stored inside the sleeping bag, to keep it from freezing.
Oh yes, tonight they want to stay in the warm den of their tent, while melting the water for tomorrow, and just relax.
Before they can do that, they need to do improve their camp condition, which is : 1) get a solid tent installation: keep in mind that the tent will presumably stay there for the next two nights; and 2) get a good level of insulation from the cold and wind.
It’s still early in the day and they got a lots of time ahead. Also, they got still some water to drink from the morning, and there is no need to install the stove now.
As every winter hiker knows, good heat insulation from the snow can be achieved by providing tree branches beneath the bottom tarp and around the tent itself. Such a layout is visible in a picture shot some days earlier. They excavate a pit in the snow in order to provide some lateral protection to the tent, then they erect the tent, leaving at the bottom their skis to provide a levelled ground. They install the tent because they need a temporary protection, indeed, just to rest a while, and to grab some snack before they can think about to gather the material needed for the branch mat.
They could not bring it with them from down the valley. It’s obvious that they needed to get it on site.
This is exactly the reason why they all got outside the tent leading to the tree line: to get their mattress!
They needed to go all together, for it is an individual task: everyone needs to haul back his or her own mat. And, as a matter of fact, they were all working on recovering branches from the trees where they died, except for three of them. Two of them were found below the cedar tree, after they managed to get a good amount of branches from the higher part of the trunk. Four of them were found in the ravine, after the searchers found signs of broken branches on their way and, finally a stack of branches near their corpses.
What was later considered a snow den, was nothing else than the material for tent insulation stacked at the bottom of the ravine. We don’t know if it was used later to line a snow den, but the reason why it is there, it’s quite clear. They did not need axes, their knives worked well for that job. And there is no reason to think that, even if there was the need to cut some additional wood to supply the stove, this could not be done by just picking fallen branch from the ground or that an additional axe was lost somewhere along the slope and went unnoticed during the spring field search. What about torch lights? That night it was waning crescent, but at that point it was still early in the day, no need to carry a torch except maybe one, for safety.
So here we are, but: wait a minute, you are saying that all this people went wood picking barefoot? Ok, that’s insane, and I agree. And what about the tent, wasn’t it ripped by inside? There should be something more to say and, as a matter of fact, I tell you that there is.
Before to get to the final resolution, we need to go for a necessary digression along the Siberian tundra, starting from the travel preparatory days. We agreed that Dyatlov was almost an alpine master and that he made all effort in the preparedness of the hike, including a study of the terrain. Including a study of the area from many points of view, as it always happens with anyone who intends to professionally guide a group of tourists. He probably gathered information from books and from other sources, like for instance diaries from precedent expeditions and I assume that he talked a lot about what they were going to found in that area. I’m sure there was a lot of excitement and they talked about climate and weather condition, geology and mining, flora and fauna. They surely talked about one of the most relevant aspect of the Ural area: the arctic tundra is inhabited by native population, the Mansi people. It was known that deer hunters crossed the desolated mountains and managed not just to survive in that climate, but also to hunt and, besides, they managed to live their lives perfectly integrated in one of the most hostile environment in the world. At that time, they also have managed to survive to the Soviet control and their marginalization allowed them to keep intact their culture and their language.
Signs of Mansi People hunting technique, or their passage, not mentioning the chance to meet them in person, was for sure the most interesting thing that could happen to the hikers on those mountains they were about to visit.
Also, remember that the most remarkable lines found in the expedition diary were related to the Mansi People: “In the middle of the road we saw a Mansi shed. Yes, Mansi, Mansi, Mansi. This word comes up more and more often in our conversations”.
There are many publication on Mansi People, mostly related to Ural Ethnography. This small ethnic group was neglected from the chronicle till the XIV century. Then, sporadic information about Mansi People let us know about a formal process of christianization and russification where animism and shamanism were secretly preserved.
“When Soviet came to power, the ideology claimed its victims and demanded unconditional recognition. First, the best men were exterminated, then it was the turn of the shamans and folk customs to be persecuted. When the exploitation of mining resources in western Siberia began, the local people, including the Mansi, experienced only negative effects. By 1979, the majority of the Mansi did odd jobs or worked part-time, or were unemployed. Alcoholism is a common phenomenon. The average life expectancy is only 40–45 years and the percentage of suicides is high. Discriminating attitude towards the Mansi predominates. The exploitation and derision of the “blacks” — the Mansi and other Northern people — goes unpunished. Thus a part of the Mansi have chosen a closed circle of their environment with their customs, language, and traditions”
We could argue that the clash of the Mansi People with the Soviet culture shows a similar destiny with what happened thousands of miles away, in North America to the American Indians; and, similarly to American Indians, Mansi People practiced shamanism. A lots of resources are available about shamanism in Siberia, particularly on Mansi Shamanism. One very interesting aspect of Shamanism is the use of hallucinogens to induce altered state of mind. There is a vast bibliography about the use of hallucinogenic mushroom in Siberia.
Hutton cites studies, including a comprehensive study of shamanism among the Khants and Mansi, which concluded that eating mushrooms was one option out of many trance induction techniques, including drumming, dancing, smoking, and staring at a candle; and one of the Khoryaks, which reported that ordinary people took fly agaric in order to attain visions like those of shamans. (…) Indeed, the mushrooms have been more widely used outside of shamanism — to get a glimpse of what the shamans see, to prepare for all-night bardic performances, to alleviate the fatigue of heavy labor, or for recreational inebriation at weddings and feasts .
Severe arctic tundra environment is enjoyable for a daring team of tourists aiming to face the extreme weather condition for a short time, while knowing that they will find a warm room, and their usual life on the way back home. Not so for the people living out there in the arctic tundra, secluded in the cold, just struggling to remain alive, day after day, season by season, never an exception to the daily routine, dawn to dusk, till an early night falls over their unarticulated dreams: the Mansi People.
Under those extreme climate condition and segregation, it is clear that Mansi culture and tradition looked like an almost supernatural phenomenon, enlightened by its anecdotal aura of shamanic superstition which, for sure, was one of the main source of interest and excitation of Dyatlov and his friends.
SO, WHAT DID HAPPEN?
Let’s make our way back to that Pass, now. The weather is better than expected, Otorten Mountain is within reach, one day of easy skiing along a flat snow ridge. The tent is temporarily rigged and the hikers are sitting inside, resting for a while, grabbing some snack. In a couple of minute they will put their shoes on and they will go joyfully downslope to gather the tree branches to provide additional insulation to the tent. It will be a matter of half an hour to go and come back to the tent from the tree line, someone says. Some other scrabbles into his sack and finds a small bag, who knows where he got it from, maybe it is in his backpack since a long time, maybe someone in a village sold him last week. He didn’t talked about it, maybe he even forgot about it.
What’s in this bag, guess what? It’s Mukhomor! That is, the siberian word for Fly Agaric or Amanita Muscaria. The mushrooms are dried; it looks like a prank, some say, are you joking? I’m not, these are the famous mushrooms which make a shaman of you. Mansi eat them for walking days and nights in the snow, fearless, without feeling cold or effort.
Since 1920, the Soviet Union legislation condemned possessing drugs for trafficking and we need to understand if a hallucinogenic mushroom at that time and in that contest should have been considered a drug by the hikers. It is now of public domain that in those years hallucinogens were secretly and extensively experimented for military purposes by either the USA and the USSR, but it is really arguable if a soviet student at that time could associate a natural mushroom with synthetic LSD, then with a drug. My opinion is that in such a circumstance, experiencing a fly agaric needs to be intended as a folkloristic, and goliardic initiation to Mansi superstition, rather than a drug abuse. Probably they are all skeptic about the effect of the fly agaric. Nobody has tasted it before. All they know, are anecdotes. For sure, they’re all pry and prepared to observe what is going to happen to them as they try the agaric as a scientific phenomenon. They are also a group of boys and girls in their twenties, and tomorrow is the great day. Can’t it be that eating the hallucinogenic mushroom is just another challenge they are going to face together? At the worst, one of them declares, we’ll get an headache.
Are you saying that the students were drug addicted? No, I also definitely absolve the guy from the accuse of being a drug dealer. They don’t know where they are doing. Nobody at that time could tell.
I believe that what happen next can’t be explained without introducing a strong state of mental alteration.
So I need to introduce at some point the agaric. It can’t be proved that it happened or not, but it is coherent with the common human behaviour of young people: to make a step forward and got inebriated. Camaraderie and gregariousness are the key words, together with the evocative content of a small bag which come up at a certain point, and Mansi, Mansi, Mansi.
They share the content of the bag in nine part. How much is it? We don’t really know. What we know is that it is way too much. The effects of Mukhomor are unpredictable. It depends not just on quantity taken and people’s weight, but on many other unpredictable factors. The effect of the drug change from person to person.
I witnessed a few times the progress of intoxication by means of agaric. The intoxication comes on rather suddenly, in about a quarter of an hour after the consumption of the mushrooms. Usually the person remains awake; but the natives say that if a person falls-asleep immediately after eating mushrooms, they will work more effectively, and in a short time he will awaken more thoroughly under their influence. The intoxication has three stages. In the first the person feels pleasantly excited. His agility increases, and he displays more physical strength than normally. Reindeer-hunters of the Middle Anadyr told me that before starting in canoes in pursuit of animals, they would chew agaric because that made them more nimble on the hunt.
A native fellow traveller of mine, after taking agaric, would lay aside his snow-shoes and walk through the deep snow hour after hour by the side of his dogs for the mere pleasure of exercise, and without any feeling of ‘fatigue’.
Flashes of the second stage often appear early, shortly after the first traces of intoxication become visible; indeed, all three stages are frequently intermingled. During the second stage the intoxicated person hears strange voices bidding him perform more or less incongruous actions. He still recognizes surrounding objects, however, and when talked to is able to answer. All things appear to him increased in size. For instance, when entering a room and stepping over the door-sill, he will raise his feet exceedingly high. In the third stage the man is unconscious of his surroundings, but he is still active, walking or tumbling about on the ground, sometimes raving, and breaking whatever happens to come into his hands. Then a heavy slumber ensues, lasting for several hours, during which it is impossible to rouse the sleeper.
W. G. Bogoras, 1904-1909, The Chukchee, Memoir of the American Museum of Natural History, New York. Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Vol XI, Part 1, page 205.
So, here we are at the final act. They get out from the tent and some of them can’t stop a continuous uncontrollable giggling. The Otorten mountain is still there.
-It looks closer than it was before. I could jump there from here.
-you’re right, we could even fly.
-Hey, let’s move down to the tree line to gather the branches.
-It is just fifty metres, let’s go there as we were Mansi.
-Cool, how is that?
Walking effortless on the snow without snow boots, that’s exactly as the legend goes.
I’m sorry for dropping some line of fiction in the last page of this alternative Dyatlov diary. I don’t know exactly what happened after they decided to walk down the slope giggling, with no snow boots and in a some kind of euphoric state, if they rested a while or if they moved immediately, and if they all left together. Some of them were skeptical, and kept their clothes on. Others were way more into the trip, and fearless took away the jacket. Yes, fearless, because the most mentioned effect of the fly agaric is that makes you feel fearless and invincible.
I’m sure that the mountain scenario was gorgeous and that they were happy to be there, and I hope that the echo of what happened next, did not take too long to vanish in the mounting northern wind.
Hallucinogens are dangerous for a person to take because the user will not be able to predict what type of hallucinations they will have when taking the drug, and some people completely lose control and commit acts of violence or harm themselves when they are under the influence of hallucinogens. The custom among many users is to have “sitters” who watch out for one during his incoherence and incompetence triggered by the drug. But it can also trigger psychotic episodes and what is called an ‘excited delirium’.
We left the hikers walking excited down the slope. Then came the night, where hallucination, at least for some of them, took the shape of monsters.
Many of the recovered corpses exhibited bruises in the metacarpophalangeal joints on both hands. Similar bruises are common in hand to hand combat and it is evident that nothing could have produced the skull and chest fractures, if not a violent human attack performed with blunt objects like sticks or rocks under the influence of hallucinogens. It’s not clear, and it’s not even important who made what, and if there was a single attacker, or if it was a battle. It’s not even clear if they were all aware of what was happening or if someone just stared at the sky intoxicated.
Some of them collapsed after the effect of the drug early, where they were standing, other strived longer to keep awake and crawled. Maybe some of them were recovering faster than the other from the trip and they tried to got back to the tent. Maybe someone was escaping and some other was chasing behind her. Maybe, maybe, maybe. At the end, all of them laid frozen on the snow.
Last words are for the tent. It was found, so said, that the tent was cut with a blade from inside.
“A woman was called to help mending his [Korotaev] uniform. She took one look at the tent and spoke with confidence that the cuts were made from inside. This changed the course of the investigation entirely. Forensic analysis confirmed the cuts were indeed made from inside”.
That’s the sole and only observation that would proof that the hikers left everything behind and escaped from the tent.
Is it truth?
It’s not clear how to recognize that a cut is made from inside. Probably it is possible to understand if a single hole is made from inside from the observation of the edge of the hole. But what about a cut made with a blade? The blade first penetrates into the canvas, then it moves along the fabric, and it’s not clear why a cut made from inside the fabric should look different from a cut made outside the fabric, unless you can recognize which side of the blade is inside and which is outside. It does not make sense.
The tent was left abandoned to the ridge winds fury for one month. It’s very unreal that the cuts were preserved in their original shape. When it was found, the tent was frozen, for sure, and rigid as cardboard. Should we believe that the searchers made all effort to preserve it as an important evidence? It’s clear that what we see in the pictures of the tent taken by the investigator, is far from the condition in which the tent was left by the hikers.
Is it possible that all the investigative case is based on the casual observation of a mending woman and no other single piece of equipment or cloth or injury was subject to further analysis? Except for radioactive clothes, naturally; and if I need to tell, it’s ironic, my friends. This leads directly to the final question. Is it true that nobody, not the searcher, not the witnesses, not the investigator, recognized what really happened at the Dyatlov Pass? I find it hard to believe. Probably some people understood what happened, but the truth story was rather uncomfortable to tell to the families of those poor guys, and also to the public, and they just let the story go. In USSR there was a strong prudery about disclosing to the public unpleasant information that could reveal flaws in the soviet society. A story of nine hikers devastated by hallucinogens is exactly one of those stories that it was not to tell. Much more better to leave all believe that something inexplicable had happened.
-It is true that Hallucinogens have varying effects on various individuals, and are very seldom dangerous. For all nine hikers to be mortally affected seems highly unlikely. If, all nine did happen to have such a reaction, I would expect a more random wandering and placement of bodies (S.C.).
I assume that each group member ate different quantity of agaric and that the mushroom effect hit each hiker with different strength and variable delay. Also, it is possible that someone of them did not eat any agaric at all.
Here is one of the many possible scenarios which could explains a possible chain of events.
It’s early in the afternoon and the weather is good. The group planned in advance to camp along the route and to descend to the tree line before dinner to collect tree branches for additional insulation at the tent bottom, free from their backpacks. Then, as we said, someone proposed to do something unusual involving a magic mushroom.
At first, the group necessarily followed a collective decision, that is to perform, as a boldness test, a barefoot walking on the snow and, why not? to verify if the magic power of the agaric was just a legend. The dried agaric is shared between the hikers. How much did they eat? We don’t know, but we can assume that a bag full of agaric is shared with excitment, maybe an handful for each one of them, which is the equivalent of many fresh mushrooms, which is a lot. Then, after minutes, they moved together, persuaded that everything was under control: each one of them could retreat to the tent in any moment. As they went on, early in maybe twenty minutes, someone started to experience a psychotropic effect from agaric ingestion, like a fearless excitement or euphoria. If, by this moment, someone was not anymore comfortable with the experiment, showing his weakness to the others would have been equally troublesome: nobody wanted to be shamed for being the first to retreat. By emulation and gregariousness they continued together for a little while. Then, the group probably splitted in two. There was a cedar tree with many branches located at some height, and three or four of them stopped there to grab the branches from the tree. The others continued for a couple of minutes until they found an area with many small trees where the branches were easier to reach and they started gathering them in bundles.
At this point, probably the cold and the symptoms of intoxication were clear to some of them. The weather got worse and the wind started to blow. One hiker did not feel comfortable anymore, and decided to go back, after a courageous guy provided her with some clothes. She moved up directly to the tent, while shivering, walking on uncompacted snow. Moving slowly, feeling sick for the intoxication and freezed by the cold wind, she stopped many times before being overwhelmed by the agaric sickness.
Meanwhile, some hundreds of meters below, the guys at the cedar tree were experiencing a drowsy sickness. Instead of moving back to the tent, the three of them tried to start a fire to keep them warm while they were waiting for the missing hikers that moved farther to collect the branches. They too, realized that they were the victims of some kind of intoxication and that they needed to move back to the tent. Nevertheless, it is understandable that they didn’t move yet because their mates were still working few minutes away. After some times, it became urgent that one of them – say Dyatlov, moved down to see what was happening.
It was getting colder but the remaining party of two at the cedar tree was confident that they would have succeeded in starting a warm fire in minutes. Igor, you are shivering, please take my jacket with you, says Yuri. We will start a fire and we will be ok. We will wait right here, until you all will come back. Give a yell when you’ll pass by and we will follow.
After trying unfruitfully to light the fire, Doroshenko and Krivonishenko will succumb to the intoxication and probably will be affected by allucination when Dyatlov will pass by, later on on his way back to the tent. They’ll never move away from their position and they’ll freeze to death.
Meanwhile, someone in the group headed to the ravine area was experiencing very strong hallucination. While working and gathering the brunches, fake sounds and visions are populating his mind. He stopped.
What’s that? wolves? he thinks, or evil presences? they’re yelling at me, they’re coming. He is frightened. I need to move away, he thinks, or to fight.
His companions are calling at him. Are you ok? they ask. He is standing, staring at them. Then he moves, looks like he is confused. He’s murmuring. Finally he grabs something from the ground. It’s a thick branch.
Stay away, he yells.
The hikers do not understand who he is yelling at.
My friend, are you ok? a guy asks him again and moves toward him.
Then, the unexpected. The intoxicated hiker jumps on his friend and beats him with the stick, on the head, on the chest. The victim falls on the ground and tries to defend himself but he is severely hit. The companions hear the noise of the fight. They approach the scene and intervene, trying to stop the carnage by fighting bare hands. Their knuckles are wounded. Another hiker is almost beaten to death and the assaulter, acting like he is possessed by a wild evil, ravages her body. Then, it’s the turn of a third one who his severely hit in the head.
Dyatlov approaches the scene and he cannot believe what he is looking at: three bodies lie on the ground, whining, while three people are fighting together. One of those yell at him what’s going on: the guy is acting like he is mad, he wants to kill all of us. Igor jumps in and in a short time the three of them manage to overcome the assaulter.
The condition is completely out of control. There are three people seriously injured, four counting the defeated assaulter that has been immobilized and almost strangled. Another one is badly wounded but he can move.
There is nothing else to do: Dyatlov, who is intoxicated himself but still a lucid mind, decides to go back, heading to seek for Doroshenko and Krivonishenko help. Slobodin is left behind to take care of the injured.
On the way back, Dyatlov condition precipitates. The intoxication is getting worst, as the temperature is falling. Maybe he gets to the point of yelling at the guys waiting for him below the ceder tree, and he gets no reply, or maybe he simply moves up, one step after step, while he is fighting for his own life, we don’t know. After he reaches the footprints left by Kolmogorova heading to the tent, he is not able to continue anymore.
Slobodin waits a long time before he understands that none will come to help. An overhelming head wound and the freezing cold will finally overcome his strength, on his way back to the camp.