TIL that in 1959, nine Russian hikers died in the Ural Mountains due to a “compelling natural force” in what is called the Dyatlov Pass incident. Theories include animal attacks, hypothermia, avalanche, katabatic winds, infrasound-induced panic, military involvement, or some combination of these.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyatlov_Pass_incident

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  1. I wrote this one up as a misconception:

    “The Dyatlov Pass incident was never explained and remains and unsolved mystery.”

    In 1959 a group of nine students decided to go cross country skiing via Dyatlov Pass from their homes, via train and bus to Vizhay, then ski and sledge to the Urals, for three weeks. They were fairly experienced skiers and well prepared.

    A promised message that they had arrived safely at their base never arrived on the 12th of February. By the 20th, their families raised the alarm. A search party was delivered to Dyatlov Pass and the students were found, all dead. One had eyes removed, the other, a tongue missing. Several of them were partially undressed.

    It was explained almost immediately by the Soviet authorities. It was much colder than they anticipated and they ended up with hypothermia. A hypothermic brain makes extremely bad decisions. It was -20C outside and the tent wasn’t well insulated, yet several of the students had undressed. This is known as “paradoxical undressing” and well documented in studies of hypothermia. Deep hypothermia feels like you’re burning from the inside, it’s really very painful.

    The missing eyes and tongues? Small predators in the winter will take what they can get at, which is soft tissue.

    Zinaida’s diary entries in the expedition show that the group were not quite as competent as they made out to be, she recalls how she burned mittens and a jacket at a campfire.

    The media immediately wanted to present it as a paranormal incident, instead of simple misadventure, so made up details which were not found by the investigation. The locals, the Masi people, called the mountain pass “Don’t Go There”, according to Pravda. The Masi are quite clear in their naming: “Mountain with swirling winds”. There was also a story of the bodies being irradiated or poisoned, which was also invented later.

    The search party was made up of civilians with military being used to ferry them, which is sometimes presented as “military search”. If the students had been killed by a military experiment gone wrong, the military would have handled the entire clean up effort, and covered it up (this was 1959 USSR). They would not have allowed civilians anywhere near the site.

    We know this because the Soviet military did occasionally kill civilians when experiments went awry (as did the US military) and very carefully covered it up (as did the US military), while denying access to journalists or other civilians (as did the US military).

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