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Dyatlov Pass Incident Remains One of the 20th Century’s Biggest Mysteries

In January of 1959, a group of eight young Soviet hikers – two women and seven men – attempted to take a hike in the Ural Mountains, however, they never reached their destination. Three months after their disappearance, their bodies were finally located about six miles from their destination. It was a bizarre scene, as the bodies were found missing their skis, shoes, and coats. They were found in weather that was recorded at a brutal temperature of -30 below zero. Although one would think they died from exposure, here the story gets even twisted and mysterious: two of the hikers had fractured skulls, two others suffered major chest fractures, and one was missing her tongue and eyes. Soviet investigators officially concluded that the cause of death was from “a compelling natural force.” A month later, the case was closed. Their death is still one of the most haunting mysteries of the 20th century.

The known facts are confusing: six skiers died from hypothermia, and three from injuries. They died separately, with three found a few hundred feet from a large tree where two others were found. Four other hikers were located in a ravine another 250 feet away. Some of the hikers were wearing each other’s clothes. There appeared to be no involvement from any other party, since there were always eight or nine sets of footprints of the snow. No other signs of animal or human involvement was discovered near the campsite.

Their travel diaries indicate they died the night of Feb. 2, which was when there was a huge snowstorm on the mountain. The hikers were not novices; they were experienced mountaineers in their 20s and 30s. To get to the campsite, they already had to ski across frozen lakes and remote uninhabited areas. They were mostly graduate students on a break  and in their photographs later found in their cameras reveal pictures of healthy and well prepared people wearing the best outdoor clothing of the day.

The diaries and photographs they left behind do not reflect signs of distress.

At first the deaths seemed fairly basic. Although the hikers were found in stages of undress, researchers say that is not uncommon for victims of hypothermia, who often undergo “paradoxical undressing,” which causes a person to think they are getting warmer when they are actually getting colder. But here’s where things get really strange.

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