Nine dead hikers, radioactive corpses, a cursed mountain, lights in the sky, military experiments and KGB cover-ups.

It has been over half a century since ‘The Dyatlov Pass Incident’ and what really happened on the snowy Russian hillside in 1959 has become one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time.

The interwebs is besotted with the mystery (google ‘Dyatlov Pass’ to see what I mean) of the nine perished ski-hikers and the events that took place during their 2-week trek on 27th January 1959. They set up camp on the slopes of Kholat-Syakhl mountain (now known as Dyatlov Pass) and never left alive.

This is where the weirdness kicks in.

A month later a search party found the abandoned campsite. The tent had been ripped open from the inside out and the hikers appeared to have fled through the hole, wearing only socks or barefoot in the heavy snow. Obviously they had left in a hurry.

The bodies of the hikers were found in a wooded area 1.5km from the tent. Six of the nine youth died of hypothermia, the remaining three died of internal injuries consistent with ‘being struck by a car’ although there were no external wounds related to the broken bones.  Only one of the bodies displayed external injuries – the eyes, lips, tongue and a fragment of skull-bone was missing.

There was no evidence that anyone else was in the area at the time of death, no sign of a struggle or foul-play within the group and none of the camping gear was missing.

The initial explanation at the time was that an avalanche caused the hikers’ deaths. What the avalanche scenario doesn’t explain, however, is that the the Dyatlov Pass was not prone to avalanches, there was no sign of avalanche damage and that investigators found footprints leading from the campsite.

Ruling ‘avalanche’ out, the investigators eventually determined that a ‘compelling unknown force’ had caused the deaths.

So far the story does seem weird indeed, but here’s where the plot thickens dramatically.

For three years after the incident, the Soviet ‘authorities’ forbid access to the area.  Those involved in the initial search party and investigations were made to sign a statement not to disclose anything about the case, and the case itself was classified.

Now if that’s not the stuff government cover-ups are made of, I don’t know what is.

The following is a list of the observations and subsequent discoveries of the incident which were not made public at the time…

Photos of the camp site show the tent had been incorrectly set up (something that experienced hikers would not do), suggesting the site had been tampered with.

> Forensic radiation tests showed high doses of radioactive contamination on the clothes of a few victims.

> Released documents contained no information about the condition of the skiers’ internal organs.

> Some of the hikers had gray/white hair and showed signs of premature aging.

> Hikers 50km south of the incident reported seeing strange orange spheres in the direction of Dyatlov Pass on the night of the incident. Similar spheres were observed in area continually during the period from February to March 1959, by various independent witnesses.

> People who had attended the funerals of the first five members of the group maintained that each of the bodies had acquired a deep brown or orange color on their skin.

> Scrap-metal, ‘of military origin’ was found in the area leading to speculation that the military was either using the area, or had engaged in a cover-up before the search party arrived.

> According to a 2009 witness statement from a former serviceman, the Soviet military was testing ‘parachute mines’ in the area at the time. Parachute mines detonate in the air producing similar damages to those experienced by the hikers, heavy internal damage with very little external trauma.

So what really happened that fateful night at Dyatlov Pass?  We will probably never know for sure.  My personal opinion is that the nine hikers were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, finding themselves in the middle of top-secret weapons testing in the middle of nowhere.  This would explain the strange lights in the sky, the injuries, the radio-activeness and strange appearances of the bodies, the military presence and of course the government cover-up.

Sounds like an episode of The X-Files I know, but the ‘Dyatlov Pass incident’ is no imaginary movie-plot…  something really happened that took the lives of nine people, but what happened will possibly remain a mystery for all time.