In January 1959, a party of nine young hikers — seven men and two women — struggled across Russia’s cold Ural Mountains in search of “Dead Mountain.” As a developing blizzard cooled the night air to minus 19 degrees Fahrenheit, the trekkers set their tents at the base of a little incline (minus 25 degrees Celsius). They never arrived at their next waypoint.
It took detectives nearly a month to uncover all nine victims spread throughout Dead Mountain’s snow, forests, and ravines. Some of the trekkers died in only their socks and long underwear. Some had fractured bones and damaged skulls; some had lost their eyes; and one young woman had lost her tongue, presumably due to hungry wildlife. Their tent, half-buried in snow and evidently ripped open from the inside, nevertheless contained some of the hikers’ neatly folded clothes and half-eaten food.
A Russian investigation determined at the time that all nine hikers perished of hypothermia after being thrown into the cold “under the influence of a forceful natural force.” However, the specifics of the “compelling” force behind the now-famous “Dyatlov Pass event” (named after one of the hikers, Igor Dyatlov) have long remained a mystery, giving rise to one of modern Russian history’s most lasting conspiracy theories.