A few weeks ago I discussed the cryptozoology report told in the Discovery TV special Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives. Did a menk (Bigfoot) kill the students? Since then, a very interesting report on the matter, told by the Russians themselves, has come to light. It’s a game changer.
Thanks to a CryptoVille reader whom I only know as “Jo,” my whole opinion of the Dyatlov Pass mystery has changed. At the end of my last article on this topic, I said that it would require a more thorough investigation by people with the credentials to do so, people who are preferably NOT associated with a network. I also pointed out it’s hard for anyone to get to Russia to conduct this type of investigation due to distance and expense.
However, what Jo shared with me was a TV program created by the Russians themselves that thoroughly and in painstaking detail goes over what happened in that area and to those students back in 1959. The program aired in Russia in 1997, so by today’s standards it’s an old show. But it’s gold.
The Russian Program
I’ll share links to the program at the bottom of this post, however I do have to warn you that listening to it is very, very, tedious, to say the least. Even using the Closed-Captioned translation, it’s slow going. I had to go back and repeat scenes trying to understand what they were really saying due to lapses in the translation.
Also, the soundtrack is very heavy operatic music – after 5 minutes you may find yourself losing the will to live, it’s that bad.
But if you can get passed all that, you’ll be able to view these videos. I did and managed to survive.
I will share what I learned with you in the next 3 posts (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday), in case you don’t want to spend approximately 100 minutes wading through all of that.
Why Is It Special
This Russian report is important for several reasons:
- Told by the Russians themselves, by a local Russian network
- Told seriously and without “ratings grabbing” hoopla
- Interviews several men who actually KNEW the campers and knew them well
- Explains what the world was like in that area back in 1959, crucial to setting the scene and understanding what happened.
In my last post I asked why was all this information coming to light now? Per the Russians, it came to light during Glasnost (late 1980s), when secret documents were released to the Russian public. But not all secret documents were. The program stated that these new documents added some details to the case, but didn’t solve it. So they gathered people who knew the students well and interviewed them and that alone is what makes this program gold – they were a wealth of helpful information.
I learned that the Ural Polytechnic Institute was what we’d probably call an engineering school. They also were involved in sports, very seriously. One of these sports was called the “sport of camping” and that involved hiking, skiing, and camping out in the wilds of the nearby Ural Mountains. So when I refer to the sport, or camping, it involves this whole concept of “mountaineering.”
Peter Bartholomew is a Russian, a professor (at least as of 1997), and holds a Master of Sport title in mountaineering. He knew Igor Dyatlov (leader of the ill-fated expedition) personally and had been camping with him. His opinion was that Igor was a great friend, interesting to be around, great sense of humor, and very smart. He had some trouble when leading one previous expedition because he became very domineering, so Peter wasn’t sure if he had learned from his previous mistakes when embarking on the ill-fated one in January 1959. Peter did say that Igor was the type that wouldn’t leave anyone behind.
Peter said that the group that left on that last expedition was “among the mostly highly capable hikers/skiers in the region.”
He goes on to describe each of the students involved in the tragedy because he knew them well. What we learn is that they are all a basically very nice, amiable, smart, and capable group of young adults. Some are more introverted than others, but they all pulled as a team to accomplish their mountaineering goals.
Peter was to have gone on this expedition with Dyatlov and the others, but he was required to do a pre-graduation residency during the same school break and the head of his major wouldn’t let him go. He had to stay to complete the residency.
We learn the expedition was to have lasted 16 days and covered 180 miles. The program continues with following the route the students took, mentioning on January 29th that they were hiking along a Mansi path and that they were delighted to have a furnace with them. In fact, some of them were thinking of turning the furnace into a steam heater for the tent. (Gotta love engineers, no?! LOL!!)
The next day, the 30th, we learn the going was made hard due to “snow ice.” So they switched to a deer trail which then ran right into a Mansi camp. The program said at the time, there were only about 7,000 Mansi in the area, and that they left marks on trees to communicate with each other, using a sort of code via their markings.
Moisei is another golden witness. He knew the campers too and was also supposed to go on this expedition. However, he had already graduated and started a new job and his boss wouldn’t give him the time off. So he remained behind.
He explained that for them, mountaineering was a way of life, a way to escape the rigors of life under communism. They could be free without fear of anyone watching over their shoulders, regulating them, and generally taking the joy out of life.
The notations for January 30 were that the trails were running out, there was less and less forest, it was bitter cold with snow 4 feet deep. The weather was incredibly harsh.
The next day, the 31st, bad winds overtook them as they tried to follow another Mansi trail. They kept losing the track because the snow was 2 meters (6 ft) deep. They reached the tree-line and saw the flat barren area ahead. It was noted they were also getting low on firewood.
Through the evening of February 1st the students updated their diaries regularly. But after that, nothing. Investigators are sure that means the tragedy that befell them occurred that night.
No one noticed anything amiss until well after their estimated return date of February 12th. It wasn’t unusual for these teams to get held-up due to weather and other ongoing problems. But their families became alarmed after another week went by.
Moisei said the search for the campers didn’t begin until February 19-20. He and two others were sent by helicopter to Mount Otorten. Once there, he and another skier began to search the ski trails around the area. By afternoon a plane returned and dropped a message saying the students’ equipment was found by another search party which had been led by Slovtsov.
The abandoned tent was found on February 26, just 300 meters from the summit of Mount Otorten. The first searchers on the scene noted the tent was facing a slope and was torn closer to the entrance (buttoned-up side). The slope was 3,540 feet high (1079 m) and was almost covered in snow. Inside dry shoes, clothes, outerwear, and bedding lay fairly neatly in place.
The search party had to make camp for the night, so they headed over to the large cedar at the tree-line. That’s where they found the first two bodies, Krivonischenko and Doroshenko. Both men were dressed in longjohns and button-up undershirts. They had started a fire, but it had sunk down into the snow by this time. The investigators noticed the branches 16-20 feet (5-6 m) overhead had been broken off, presumably to use as firewood.
Not wanting to contaminate the scene, the investigators went back to an area called Auspi to set-up camp. A huge tent was dropped off by helicopter and at this time, Moisei said people from all over began appearing. Some were campers in the area, cadets from the Northern Ural Prison school, and officers of the Prison Camp escapee capture team. Moisei estimated that there were 40 people, give or take, there at the time.
Special prosecutor Lev Ivanov was assigned to look into the disappearance of the students and he was present during the first wave of people arriving on the scene. Ivanov was said to have been frustrated by “watchers” who observed his investigation, sometimes preventing him and his team from going into certain areas. Ivanov found this very suspicious. For instance, on one slope, an avalanche had torn through the forest. There was a good sized square of the area either covered in snow or denuded of trees for some reason. But he couldn’t get near it to investigate.
Moisei said, given the era they were living in, he thought these restrictions were normal. But Ivanov was frustrated.
Moisei said that quickly after the tent was discovered they body of Dyatlov was found, thanks to a search and rescue dog named Zina. He and his fellow searchers were given pieces of rebar with sharpened ends. Using a grid technique they carefully poked their way through the snow searching for bodies underneath.
They found two more bodies that way, so at that time they had a total of 5. The corpses were sent first to a town called Ivdel, then forwarded to the city of Sverdlovsk on March 5 or 6.
Vladimir was the special investigator for the prosecutor’s office in Ivdel. He said the first five bodies were found without any sign of injury from the outside. But he became suspicious when people were forbidden to go into the morgue. That was highly unusual, according to Vladimir, and making it more mysterious, the KGB was guarding the morgue!
Vladimir himself had to pack the brains and organs to be sent for the postmortem. And while there was no obvious damage done to the outside of their bodies, all 5 showed signs of internal bleeding, injuries, and coagulated blood.
At first they thought that the absence of any defensive marks on the skin meant the cause of death wasn’t foul play. But the internal injuries almost certainly indicated something strange had happened.
The fact that the KGB was instantly involved is significant, I’m sure to many of us. Another interesting clue was shared in the Russian report. The two men found under the cedar in their underwear both had burns on them. Doroshenko had a burned sole (foot) and a burn in the hair above his right temple. Krivonischenko was burned on his shin on a 10 inch by 4 inch (31×10 cm) area.
Three students, including Dyatlov, were found in an almost straight row heading back towards their tent. One of them, Slobodin, had a crack in his skull that was 2.5 inches (6 cm) long with a half inch (1 cm) gap. The other student in this group was Zinaida Kolmogorova.
Of the five recovered so far, all had died of hypothermia and had sustained third or fourth degree frostbite. Not a surprise, given the weather conditions, I guess.
Tomorrow I’ll post the second installment reviewing what this important Russian program has shown us.
Here is part 1 (of 2) of this Russian program.
Next article in this series can be found here: