Dyatlov Pass Incident: A Frightening Russian Mystery -- Solved?

By Jacob Shelton
A view of the tent as the rescuers found it on Feb. 26, 1959. The tent had been cut open from inside, and most of the campers had fled in socks or barefoot. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mass psychosis, ice slabs, nuclear fallout, UFOs and a Yeti, the Dyatlov Pass Incident, named for the 23-year-old leader of this failed camping trip, remains one of the 20th century's deepest mysteries. The mystery concerns nine friends who traveled into the Russian wilderness to reach Mount Ortorten in 1959 and never came back. Sleuths have obsessed over the details -- such as they were -- of the incident for decades, without ever reaching a consensus explanation, but in 2021 we may have our best one yet, thanks to Disney's Frozen and Ford crash test data.

In 2020, the Russian government released a report with substantial evidence pointing towards avalanche as the culprit in the deaths of these hikers, but an avalanche doesn't really explain all of the strange facts surrounding this story. And let's be honest -- Russian officials saying "We investigated it and this is what happened" isn't the most satisfying announcement. If sweeping inconvenient details under the rug were an Olympic event, the Russians (and their Soviet predecessors) would take the gold medal every time.

But then came Frozen, and the Ford crash test data.