A Brief History
In the night of what is believed to be February 2, 1959, 9 Russian university students hiking and skiing in the wilderness of the Ural mountains died mysteriously. Theories for their demise range from natural disasters to a government or military cover up and even to an encounter with aliens or the Russian bigfoot known as Yeti.
Found weeks later, after a massive search effort had been launched, the bodies of the 9 students, 7 men and 2 women were located outside of their tent which they had hurriedly fled by cutting an opening from the inside. They had left with just the clothes of their back and, without shoes or boots, ran into the dark of the night. The sub-zero temperatures ensured that they quickly died of hyperthermia. 2 of the bodies were found around the remnants of a makeshift fire, 3 of the bodies were found crawling back to the tent, and the remaining ones were found 2 months later furthest from the camp site in a ravine having suffered from massive internal injuries after having apparently fallen in it in their haste to escape what ever they were running away from.
Known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident, the reason for the students’ panic has never been explained, though many theories have been put forth. One plausible explanation is that the students were running out of the path of an avalanche and that is why they had to cut their way out of the tent. Another is that the military was engaged in secret test operations that cost the students there lives, with a cover up ensuing. Some theorists even speculate that an alien UFO killed them, citing the facts that bright orbs had been reported in the skies around the same time, that the students’ clothes contained high levels of radiation and that their skin had unexplainably turned a brownish orange and their hair white. The most bizarre clue left behind though, was a note written by the students themselves, “From now on we know that the snowman exists.” What could they have meant by that? The Mansi, the indigenous people of the area, call the mountainside where the students camped “The Mountain of the Dead Men,” and it is a place they avoid as they believe it is inhabited by the “Menk,” a hairy forest giant. They had even lost their own group of hunters not far from the spot the students died. Furthermore, among the photographs taken by the students is a dark figure at the edge of the forest. What other explanation would there be for the students setting up camp in the middle of the slope rather than under the protection of the trees?
Whatever truly happened that night, the fate of the students remains a popular topic for fans of conspiracy stories and the paranormal. In 2014, the Discovery Channel sent American explorer Mike Libecki to Russia to investigate their deaths by talking with friends and witnesses firsthand and by reviewing forensic evidence and files. The resulting TV special is called “Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives.” Obviously, Mike Libecki concluded on the basis of his research that a bigfoot terrorized the students, killing them either on purpose or inadvertently in the process.
Question for students (and subscribers): What do you think is the most plausible explanation for the students leaving their tent in horror? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Baker, Alan K. Dyatlov Pass. Thistle Publishing, 2013.
Eichar, Donnie. Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident (Historical Nonfiction Bestseller, True Story Book of Survival). Chronicle Books, 2014.
Lobatcheva, Irina, Vladislav Lobatchev, et al. Dyatlov Pass Keeps Its Secret. Parallel Worlds’ Books, 2013.
McCloskey, Keith. Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident. The History Press, 2013.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Дмитрий Никишин of the group’s tomb at the Mikhailovskoe Cemetery in Yekaterinburg, Russia, has been released into the public domain worldwide by the copyright holder of this work.