On February 1, 1959, nine hikers in the Dyatlov Pass went missing. An investigation found that the group made camp on a slope in a remote region of Dyatlov, made themselves dinner, and seemingly went to bed as normal. However, at some point in the evening, something disturbed the group and chaos ensued.
Some of their tents were torn open from the inside. Supplies were scattered around their campsite. Investigators were baffled before they found the bodies. When they finally discovered the remains of the missing hikers, the mystery only deepened. What happened in Dyatlov Pass?
The authorities found the hikers’ campsite in disarray. Footprints indicated they fled their campsite in varying states of undress, with some barefoot and others wearing socks. The footprints led them to the edge of the nearby woods, where they found the first two bodies–both hikers were wearing only undergarments.
Investigators wondered at first if the group had been accosted by wild animals, or perhaps even dangerous criminals. One body showed evidence of blunt force trauma, as though they were attacked by an assailant wielding a weapon. Another bore evidence of third-degree burns, while a third had their tongue removed. Were the hikers the victim of a brutal serial killer? The investigation proved inconclusive.
The official investigation into the Dyatlov Pass incident concluded that a “compelling natural force” led to the hikers’ deaths. Some investigators believed the party feared a predatory animal or hostile traveler bearing down on their camp and fled in the middle of the night. This theory proposes that some of the outdoorsmen died from hypothermia, while others were killed by wildlife or a criminal who stalked them through the snow.
There are more outlandish theories as to what happened to the ill-fated expedition, though. Some conspiracy theorists believe that the group ran afoul of a secret military installation and that the KGB hunted them down to prevent them from sharing their findings. Others speculate that aliens attacked the group, suggesting the unusual injuries recorded on some of the bodies were caused by high-tech alien weaponry.
Some researchers have suggested a few more believable alternative theories. The most compelling of these holds that a slab avalanche could have caused the unusual injuries. Slab avalanches can cause massive amounts of rock and sediment to rapidly progress down a slope, which could account for the violent blunt force trauma that investigators found on some of the bodies. However, due to the lack of physical evidence in the case and the remoteness of the Dyatlov Pass, the case will likely remain unsolved.