The Dyatlov Pass incident happened in 1959, but the deaths of nine Russian hikers in the northern Ural Mountains under mysterious circumstances still baffles investigators and defies solution. From a violent wind to secret military testing to an avalanche to aliens to a KGB killing to a Yeti – the possible explanations have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous and many in-between. However, one has stood out … and this week a video was presented showing then strongest evidence yet that the Dyatlov Incident was caused by …
“The direct evidence from the Dyatlov Pass area obtained in those expeditions confirms that the region is avalanche prone and that slopes above the location where Igor Dyatlov and his group pitched their tent are steep enough for avalanches to release. Independent research by Russian snow and climate scientists supported assumptions and the main results of our slab avalanche modeling.”
Alexander Puzrin, a professor of geotechnical engineering at ETH Zurich, and Johan Gaume, head of the Snow and Avalanche Simulation Laboratory at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, have been the leading proponents of the slab avalanche cause since last year when their first paper on the subject was published in Communications Earth & Environment. Slab avalanches get their name from situations where a slab-like layer of snow pushed by winds forms on top of a weaker layer, causing pressure to be built up and small fractures to form – fractures that need only a small trigger – like a tent post being hammered – to release the slab to slid down a slope, even a not-so-steep one. In their new follow-up to that study, published in the same journal and in an article in Vice, Puzrin and Gaume describe three expeditions to the infamous location, including one just two months ago when professional mountain guides Oleg Demyanenko and Dmitriy Borisov witnessed and recorded video of slab avalanches.
“The initially favorable weather conditions quickly deteriorated, with wind and temperatures becoming similar to those on the night of the 1959 tragedy. Several times, the 300-kg snowmobiles and their drivers were overturned by wind gusts. Visibility became extremely poor. And then, when after a few failed attempts the two mountain guides approached their destination, the visibility briefly improved and revealed traces of two snow slab avalanches.”
Still photos of the videos are included in the study and shown in a documentary video, which is fortunate because Demyanenko and Borisov watched as the evidence of the avalanches disappeared under snowfall less than an hour later. This explains why the Dyatlov rescue team could not find signs of an avalanche three weeks after the incident. It also shows why no one believes in slab avalanches … unless they see them for themselves. The study admits that the conditions were slighting different on February 1st, 1959.
“Nevertheless, the area is clearly avalanche prone, and the avalanche danger on the night of February 1st, 1959 was real.”
Their first study concluded that the slab avalanche cause was “plausible.” Now, Puzrin and Gaume have visual evidence of similar slab avalanches causing similar destruction under similar circumstances with similar disappearances. They plan to continue building the case that the Dyatlov Group was killed by slab avalanches.
Are YOU convinced?