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The Dyatlov Pass Incident

Serac

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#1
This case has fascinated me for some time now. It's a famous mystery, but if you haven't heard about it, there's some information about it on wikipedia. There's a lot of theories about what actually happened, but somehow every theory is either very improbable or doesn't explain all the evidence. I have tried to think of a multitude of ways to construct a chain of events which fit the evidence, but there's always something that ends being contradictory.

The case is basically this: a group of 9 ski hikers go on a trip near the Ural Mountains. On February 1st 1959 they camp for the night near the top of a mountain called Kholat Syakhl. Everything went smoothly up until that night, when somehow they all ended up dead; 6 of them died of hypothermia and 3 of them suffered major injuries; skull fractures and rib fractures. However, none of them, according to the autopsies, had any external injuries, which excludes any sort of violent conflict. Among the weird parts is that they somehow ended up 1.5 kilometers from their campsite at the time of their deaths, and from the footprints and the clothing they were found with, it seems most of them left the campsite without any shoes and generally poorly clothed, leaving these items in their tent. Additionally, their tent was cut open from the inside. Various evidence excludes the most intuitive explanation, namely an avalanche; there was virtually no risk of avalanches in that area and their tent was found without any significant layer of snow on top of it.

Attached is a map of the area where they camped and where the bodies were found. The ones found farthest away from the tent were the ones with fracture injuries; Thibeaux-Brignolles had a major skull fracture while Zolotaryov and Dubinina had rib fractures and internal bleeding. The rest of them didn't have any major injuries and died of hypothermia.

The most curious of these circumstances, and which any theory should explain, are:
- How did they end up 1.5km from their campsite without proper clothing
- Why was the tent cut open from the inside
- How did some of them end up with the said injuries

It should also be mentioned that this 1.5km distance they walked was in the opposite direction of which they originally came from, so it seems unlikely they were trying to return to their origin.

If we put our Ti-Ne's to work here, could we come up with a probable theory of what took place?
 

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Serac

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#2
Here's also a pretty good exposition of the incident. The video provides a theory of its own –namely that they fled the tent because their stove started to produce smoke. This to me seems like a unsatisfactory theory, as it doesn't explain very well why the whole group decided to leave everything behind and start walking in the opposite direction of which the came from. It also seems exceedingly unlikely that they deemed it a good idea to be out there in the middle of nowhere without shelter and proper clothing just because their tent had some holes in it. Overall this theory seems to explain the cuts in the tent but is very improbable in the face of the rest of the evidence.
 

Cognisant

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#3
Has anyone found a toxicology report?

Certain kinds of bread mold can cause hallucinations, convulsions, confusion and death.
 

Cognisant

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#5
Wikipedia said:
Expedition
The group arrived by train at Ivdel (Ивдель), a city at the center of the northern province of Sverdlovsk Oblast in the early morning hours of 25 January 1959.[7] They then took a truck to Vizhai (Вижай) – a lorry village that is the last inhabited settlement to the north.[8] While spending the night in Vizhai, the skiers purchased and ate loaves of bread to keep their energy levels up for the following day's hike.[9]

Seems like an open and shut case of ergot poisoning to me.

 

Serac

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#6
Has anyone found a toxicology report?

Certain kinds of bread mold can cause hallucinations, convulsions, confusion and death.
The only thing that was found was some alcohol in a few of them. The rest were clean (or at least there's nothing mentioned in the autopsies as far as I know).

Some people use intoxication as an explanation for the seemingly erratic behavior, but this seems to me just a way of introducing conditions that cover any sort of events that are hard to explain. The problem is that they didn't really seem erratic nor influenced by any toxins – they walked in an orderly fashion for 1.5 km away from the tent (which was likely in the middle of a snow storm and in the middle of the night, and must have taken considerable effort), set up a campfire, set up a small "den" of branches near where Thibeaux-Brignolles was found, etc. So, although they seem to have left the tent in a hurry, they seem pretty coordinated in their behavior after that.

It also seems unlikely that they suffered from any sort of acute poisoning, as their stomachs contained food (so probably no vomiting or anything), estimated to have been eaten about 6-8 hours before they died.
 

Serac

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#7
As far as I remember radiation was found.
Yes, but from what I understand, the amounts were barely above what you would expect from ordinary background radiation. Coupled with the fact that the people found with raised radiation levels worked with radioactive material, it seems unlikely that this radiation had actually anything to do with the incident.
 

Cognisant

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#8
There's no such thing as reliably unpredictable, walking in an orderly fashion doesn't change the fact they walked away from their tents and their gear in the middle of the night. Also although vomiting is a symptom of ergot poisoning they may have taken some kind of stomach settling medication or vomited earlier and had something else to eat before they wandered off.

I'm not saying it's the only possible explanation but I think it's the most probable.
 

Serac

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#9
There's no such thing as reliably unpredictable, walking in an orderly fashion doesn't change the fact they walked away from their tents and their gear in the middle of the night. Also although vomiting is a symptom of ergot poisoning they may have taken some kind of stomach settling medication or vomited earlier and had something else to eat before they wandered off.

I'm not saying it's the only possible explanation but I think it's the most probable.
It seems to me that if spasms, seizures, and psychosis are the symptoms of that poisoning, it is very strange indeed that all 9 of them essentially walked uniformly down the hill and showed no evidence of gastrointestinal symptoms whatsoever. It's also strange that there was no trace of any such poisoning in the autopsies.

I don't think it's a bad theory (at least compared to theories itroducing UFOs and Yetis), but it does introduce some new conditions that need to be explained.

I think it could make sense if one imagined that perhaps a few of them became somehow psychotic and wandered off, then incurred the various injuries, and then others who were in a normal state decided to go after them to help them. One still needs to construct a complete chain of events that explain all the evidence to make this credible though.
 
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#10
I think we don't have enough information to know exactly what happened, what do we know about there lives before the incident?
 

Jennywocky

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#13
Off topic but why doesn't someone make a thread where INTPs can solve crimes or mysteries like these ones?
Yeah, we can have a subfolder for this (our own Mystery Machine), and one thread per mystery, and we all dump crap into it to come up with the answers. The Dyatlov Pass incident has always been pretty interesting, I just don't remember all the details anymore. But pretty much solving this kind of stuff depends on details, some of which we wouldn't have access to.

It seems they've finally figured out the AE disappearance, but they needed a forensic anthropologist and others to analyze the evidence.

There's not as much "classical mystery solving" nowadays, it's all about forensic science and evidence analysis. Although I would say the blood splatter experts and others who extrapolate from evidence how a scene had to unfold are more appealing than simply analyzing chemical makeup or running DNA checks.

I think we don't have enough information to know exactly what happened, what do we know about there lives before the incident?
Yeah, forensic psychology. But basically, what kind of people were they, what stressors were they under, what was their mindset leading into that trip, what were the group interactions like, etc. All that stuff is important, but they probably weren't collecting much of that info at the time, were they? I'd have to review the discussions.
 
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#14
Yeah, we can have a subfolder for this (our own Mystery Machine), and one thread per mystery, and we all dump crap into it to come up with the answers. The Dyatlov Pass incident has always been pretty interesting, I just don't remember all the details anymore. But pretty much solving this kind of stuff depends on details, some of which we wouldn't have access to.

It seems they've finally figured out the AE disappearance, but they needed a forensic anthropologist and others to analyze the evidence.

There's not as much "classical mystery solving" nowadays, it's all about forensic science and evidence analysis. Although I would say the blood splatter experts and others who extrapolate from evidence how a scene had to unfold are more appealing than simply analyzing chemical makeup or running DNA checks.
I still think we should do it except it is a Reddit thing.
 
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#15
"After the group's bodies were discovered, an investigation by Soviet Union authorities determined that six had died from hypothermia while the other three showed signs of physical trauma. One victim had a fractured skull; two others had major chest fractures. Additionally, another team member was missing her tongue and eyes. The investigation concluded that an "unknown compelling force" had caused the deaths. Numerous theories have been put forward to account for the unexplained deaths, including animal attacks, hypothermia, avalanche, infrasound-induced panic, military involvement, or some combination of these"
 

Serac

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#17
If we look into there lives before the event we could see if any had any mental issues.
They were mostly engineering- and physics students and graduates in their early 20s, with the exception of Zolotaryov who was a 38-year old ski instructor of some sorts. They didn't have any history of mental illness. They were generally bright, physically fit and experienced ski hikers.
 
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#18
They were mostly engineering- and physics students and graduates in their early 20s, with the exception of Zolotaryov who was a 38-year old ski instructor of some sorts. They didn't have any history of mental illness. They were generally bright, physically fit and experienced ski hikers.
We're any involved with the military?
 

Adaire

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#19
Is there a particular reason why a wild animal attack, like a bear, is being discounted? The missing eyes & tongue are almost certainly due to predation.
 
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#20
Is there a particular reason why wild animals, like a bear, is discounted?
I'm pretty sure bears don't pull out tongues or eyes, and the force was probably too high for a bear to be capable of doing such a thing and there would be footprints.
 

Serac

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#23
Is there a particular reason why a wild animal attack, like a bear, is being discounted? The missing eyes & tongue are almost certainly due to predation.
The autopsy states that the missing eyes and tongue were due to natural post-mortem decomposition. This was Dubinina's corpse, who was found with her face submerged in a water stream. I think the missing tongue and eyes is a detail that has been vastly overemphasized. Other than that, it's hard to invoke any sort of animal attack because there's no trace of that anywhere – not on the tent nor the bodies.

Here's the conclusion of Dubinina's autopsy:
Based on the forensic examination of the body of L. A. Dubinina I think that the death of Dubinina was caused by massive hemorrhage into the right ventricle, multiple bilateral rib fractures, and internal bleeding into the thoracic cavity.

The said damage was probably caused by an impact of great force causing severe closed lethal trauma to the chest of Dubinina. The trauma was caused during life and is the result of high force impact with subsequent fall, throw or bruise to the chest of Dubinina.

Damage to the soft tissue of the head and ‘bath skin’ wrinkling to the extremities are the post-mortem changes (rot and decay) of Dubinina’s body, which was underwater before it was found.

The death of Dubinina is through violence.
https://dyatlovpass.com/case-files-355-357?rbid=17743
 

Adaire

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#25
That theory was never really confirmed or so I've read.
I find it really hard to believe that there wouldn't have been significant animal activity from when they died and when they were found, even if an animal wasn't the initial culprit.
 
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#26
That theory was never really confirmed or so I've read.
I find it really hard to believe that there wouldn't have been significant animal activity from when they died and when they were found, even if an animal wasn't the initial culprit.
We would have to be there and know everything they know which we don't to actually have a chance of validating any theory. A theory may sound right from what we know but may be wrong just because we don't have all of the information.
 

Serac

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#27
We would have to be there and know everything they know which we don't to actually have a chance of validating any theory. A theory may sound right from what we know but may be wrong just because we don't have all of the information.
That shouldn't stop you from constructing a probable narrative which is consistent with the evidence though.
 

Serac

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#29
Of course it just makes it problematic to get to the truth. Whatever it is they didn't want to go back to the tent.
That's not necessarily the case. The three people found nearest to the tent (see the picture in OP) were found facing the tent, so it seemed they were trying to get back to it.
 
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#30
That's not necessarily the case. The three people found nearest to the tent (see the picture in OP) were found facing the tent, so it seemed they were trying to get back to it.
How would you say the whole thing happened I think it's possible some turned against each other.
 

Serac

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#31
How would you say the whole thing happened I think it's possible some turned against each other.
I'm still thinking about it. Here's an interesting piece of fact though:

The two people near the cedar tree (Krivonischenko and Doroshenko) were found stripped down to their underwear, with some of the other people using their clothes to keep warm. As it says in wikipedia:
there were signs that those who had died first had apparently relinquished their clothes to the others. Zolotaryov was wearing Dubinina's faux fur coat and hat, while Dubinina's foot was wrapped in a piece of Krivonishenko's wool trousers.
So it's likely that Krivonischenko and Doroshenko died first (of hypothermia), and that Zolotaryiov died after Dubinina. I would also guess that the three ones between the tree and the tent were trying to get back to the tent to get something – maybe more food or clothes, but didn't make it. So perhaps, the reason they all ended up at that place 1.5km from the tent was to attend to the injured ones. It should also be said that Thibeaux-Brignolles and Zolotaryov were properly clothed – with shoes and everything – in contrast to the others, and they both had major fracture injuries. So I think these two went out originally and got injured, with the rest coming to their aid.
 
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#32
I'm reading and watching videos about it right now. I think it's possible the people that had injuries had a fight and possibly fell off of the cliff.
 
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