Have scientists finally solved the 60-year-old mystery of the deaths of nine Russian tourists?
In February 1959, a university student Mikhail Sharavin made an unexpected discovery on the slopes of the Ural Mountains.
Sent as a member of a search team investigating the disappearance of a group of nine experienced hikers, Sharavin and his fellow rescuers noticed a corner of the tent peeking out from under the snow, as he told Lucy Ash to the BBC in 2019. Inside they found everything they needed, including a flask of vodka, a map, and a plate of bacon (white pork fat) that seemed to have been thrown without warning. A cut in the wall of the tent suggested that someone had used a knife to pave a retreat path from the inside, while trails leading from the shelter indicated that some climbers ventured out in sub-zero temperatures barefoot or with just a single boot and socks.
We shared the vodka among ourselves – there were 11 of us, including the guides, Sharavin recalled. We were about to drink it when one guy turned to me and said: It is better not to drink for their health, but for their eternal peace.
Over the next several months, rescuers found the bodies of all nine tourists. According to BBC News, the two men were found barefoot and in their underwear. While most of the group appear to have died of hypothermia, at least four suffered gruesome and unexplained injuries, including a fractured skull, broken ribs, and a gaping head wound. One woman, 20-year-old Lyudmila Dubinina, lacked both her eyeballs and her tongue. The wounds, according to the doctor who examined the bodies, were equal to those of a car accident, according to documents later obtained by St.
We’re not claiming to have solved the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass as no one survived to tell the story, ” lead study author Johan Gom, head of the Snow and Avalanche Simulation Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, told Brandon Spector. But we are showing the plausibility of the avalanche hypothesis for the first time.
In 2019, the Russian authorities announced plans to revise the incident, which they attributed not to a crime, but to an avalanche, snow slab or hurricane. The following year, an investigation concluded that the death of tourists was associated with an avalanche and poor visibility. As the state news agency RIA reported in July 2020, official data suggests that the flow of snow slabs or block boulders surprised sleeping victims and forced them to seek refuge on a nearby ridge. Not seeing more than 50 feet ahead, the hikers froze to death trying to return to their tent. However, given the lack of “key scientific details” in the official findings, as well as the notorious opacity of the Russian government, this explanation failed to satisfy the public’s curiosity, according to National Geographic.
Critics of the avalanche theory cite four main counterarguments, Gom says in an interview with Live Science: there are no physical avalanche traces found by rescuers; a more than nine hour break between campers building their camp, a process that required crashing into a mountain to create a barrier against the wind, and their panicky departure; gentle camping slope; and group injuries. (Strangulation is the more common cause of death for avalanche victims.)
Jim McElvane, a geological hazard expert at the University of Durham in England who was not involved in the study, tells National Geographic that the slabs of snow had to be incredibly stiff and move at significant speeds to inflict such severe injuries. In an interview with New Scientist, McElwain adds that the study does not explain why these people, after being caught in an avalanche, fled into the snow without clothes.
He continues: If you are in such harsh conditions, leaving the shelter without clothes is suicide. For people to do this, they had to scare something. I guess one of the most likely reasons is one of them went crazy for some reason. I cannot understand why else they would behave this way if they were not trying to escape from the one who was tracking them.