Historical events, urban legends, and folklore have always served as an inspiration to many of my personal projects. I love learning about unusual and peculiar stories and I often find some of the most unnerving tales are events that actually happened. Having a sense of reality always makes a story that much more impactful, in my opinion.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident, the mystery around the unexplainable deaths of nine Russians hikers, had been on my radar for awhile and I had been exposed to this story through various podcasts and YouTube videos throughout the years. There is a ton of weird evidence left behind but since the bodies were discovered (1959, I think?) no one has seemed to be able to piece together what really happened.
This mysterious event served as inspiration for one of my senior-year projects. I wanted to create a book, one that could almost be used as a prop for a movie, similar to the book from The Evil Dead or the Babadook. Not knowing exactly what the subject matter would be, I thought back to the Dyaltov Pass Incident and decided to make a diary of a man trying to uncover the truth behind the mystery.
Everything about this book I created; I illustrated the pages, dyed and aged them, and bound it all together. I thought I'd share the diary entries for next couple of Steemit posts. All of the facts in the book are taken from the real-life event.
June 15th 1967
I’m returning to the Sverdlovsk region to uncover the truth behind the mysterious deaths of those nine students. Officials declared that the group members all died because of a “compelling natural force”, as if that was supposed to provide any closure. I am not satisfied and that is why I have chosen to return to these god-forsaken mountains. I need to know, I need to uncover the truth. Maybe this time I’ll find something, something that was missed. Perhaps something that was purposely hidden from the public eye.
It was February 1959 when a group of volunteers quickly gathered together in a rescue attempt after the nine ski hikers’ were reported missing from their trip into the Northern Urals. I was in the area, so, the moment I heard about the incident, I reported to the Unit to lend my efforts. Maybe it was the fact that I was a teacher, at the time, and it broke my heart to think of my own students lost in the woods that urged me to go.
Heading North of Vizhai it did not take long to locate the abandoned campsite, with a tent-shredded open from the inside yet no sign of an intruder. After we found the bodies, it became abundantly clear that nothing was going to make sense. Like piecing together a puzzle never meant to fit, all we could tell was during the night something made the students tear their way out of their tents and flee the area inadequately dressed in sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow-fall.
There was no clear narrative to the tragedy, but I suppose life doesn’t care about a three-part act. No one knows what happened.
The only truth I know is the heartbreaking fact that nine young people had their lives taken under inexplicable circumstances and they deserve a better ending to their story.
Tonight I am spending my last night in Vizhai before heading out into the wilderness. I’m no expert, but I’ve hiked enough times in my life to know what to expect. Especially now that I am out of work… I’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this expedition. I am all packed and ready for the journey, which I know will not be a kind one.
June 16th 1967
As I begin my trek towards the eastern slopes of Holatchahtl, taking the same steps I took in ’59, the mountainside is as unnerving as I remember.
It wasn’t until February 26th that we came across the students’ empty tent. It was half torn down, from the inside, and blanketed with snow. No bodies, just all of the hikers’ belongings left behind. Abandoned.
Not too far from the long dead campfire were the first two bodies: Doroshenko and Krivonischenko.
They were both naked and without shoes. The two boys lay, icy and unmoving, near an old pine tree with branches snapped off up about 15 feet high, as if the boys attempted to climb the tree and it’s branches cracked under their pressure.
It was at this point that the rescue team and I began to imagine what unwelcomed guest could have caused such a frenzied panic. An animal, perhaps, or maybe it was an avalanche? But we found no evidence, no tracks or any signs of an outside force.
The leader of the group, Igor Dyatlov, was the next to be found. His body was preserved nearly 900 feet away from the other two and was found lying on his back. No, not lying. Frozen. Petrified. One hand clinging to a birch tree branch and the other locked in ice and rigor mortis.
We found Slobodin, next, face down in the snow and the first of the students to have an apparent injury. His skull bore a deep fracture about 7 inches long. There were burn marks too, weird looking…like a symbol of sorts.
The farthest from the group was Zinaida Kolmogorov. Bright red blood sprinkled the white snow around her.
We could not tell if it was from her body and even more baffling was that there was no evidence of a struggle.
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