The Dyatlov Pass Incident

dyatlov1Disclaimer: this entry will not be news to even casual fans of strange, unsolved mysteries. The Dyatlov Pass Incident is such an old chestnut of the genre, subject to over fifty years of theories and counter theories that I’ve resisted covering it out of the sheer futility of adding anything new. Nonetheless, Wondercabinet would be lacking without it, so here goes. The basic facts are these: In January of 1959, a group of ten hikers from the Ural Polytechnic Institute in Yekaterinburg, Russian set out on an ill-fated cross-country ski trek into in the northern Ural Mountains. One among them fell ill and turned back, and thus became the group’s sole survivor. A search party was dispatched two weeks later. The students’ camp was found in a state that can only be described as extremely weird. Their tents were torn open from the inside, with all their belongings left behind, suggesting a desperate, panicked escape. Most of them fled out into the subzero dark undressed and barefoot. Their bodies were found more than a mile from their tents. Two had fractured skulls, two had broken ribs, and one was missing a tongue. Several bodies also displayed signs of burning or radiation poisoning.  Even stranger, orange spheres were seen in the sky that night by independent witnesses in the military and meteorology service. The official report cites the cause as a “compelling natural force.” Alternate theories range from avalanche and paradoxical undressing to yetis and secret weapon testing. A serious new book on the subject even suggests ultrasonic sound induced mania. For my money, the best explanation rests on a cryptic photo that was among the last on a camera found onsite and only recently brought to light in a Discovery channel special.