On January 25, 1959, the group reached Ivdel and took a truck north to Vizhai. On January 29, one member of the team stayed behind due to illness and the remaining nine embarked on their quest to reach Otorten Mountain. It was the last time any of them were seen alive.
On February 12, they were expected back in Vizhai. Now overdue, a rescue team was assembled and began to trace the expedition's route through the Dyatlov Pass. On the 26th, the rescuers came across the team's abandoned campsite. It wa deserted and the tent was badly damaged as if something had ripped through it. Oddly, it appeared not as if something had tried to get into the tent, but rather like someone had ripped their way out. Tracks were found leading away from the camp and, 500 meters away, the found the first two hikers next to the remains of a campfire - both of them were dead, shoeless, and in only their underwear.
Between the position of the first bodies, they found three more. The positions of the corpses suggested that they were trying to return to the original camp, but succumbed along the way.
It was two months later that the remaining four hikers were found further into the woods. They were in a ravine under four meters of snow.
Obviously, hikers dying on a dangerous expedition is not a great mystery, but as the officially inquest into the deaths began and the bodies were examined, it brought a mystery into the light that has not been fully explained in decades.
The first bodies discovered died of hypothermia. It was discovered that one of the men had a crack in his skull, it it was hardly a fatal wound. Since there were no obvious outward injuries to the other bodies, it was assumed that the same findings would be reached, but that was not the case. As a matter of fact (although, as it was reported, there were no outward marks or injuries) one of the hikers had major skull injuries and two others were discovered to have suffered major chest injuries. One of the doctors who conducted the investigation stated that the pressure to create that level of breakage would have to be caused by an enormous amount of pressure - like being hit by a car, but there were no wounds on the bodies.
The most shocking and disturbing discovery was that one of the dead hikers was missing her tongue.
The investigation concluded that everyone in the camp had left of their own accord, walking off into the snowy night while they slept, all of them in some state of undress. Theories abounded that the camp had been attacked by the indigenous Mansi people, but that was dismissed as the bodies showed no wounds and the force needed to shatter the broken skulls and chests were so great they would not have been caused by human hands even with tools.
There were a few more details left to uncover that propelled this case into infamy. Forensic radiation tests were conducted and it was determined that radiation contamination was present on some of the clothing taken from the bodies. Family members even reported that, at the victim's funerals, the bodies appeared to have a strange orange tan.
Another group of hikers about 50 kilometers south of the incident reported that they saw strange orange spheres in the night sky to the north (likely in the direction of Kholat Syakhl) on the night of the incident. Similar "spheres" were observed in Ivdel and adjacent areas continually during the period of February to March 1959, by various independent witnesses (including the meteorology service and the military).
The Dyatlov Pass Incident continues to evoke a sense of eerie dread to those who investigate and study it and, whether you believe that the deaths were caused by aliens, an unlucky encounter with discarded Cold War ordinance, or simply poor judgment in dangerous conditions, this is one mystery that will continue to invite speculation far into the future.
“If I had a chance to ask God just one question, it would be, ‘What really happened to my friends that night?’” - Yudin