Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident review

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass IncidentDead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pretty interesting look at a real mystery. The author did a lot of research (including retracing some of the doomed hiking party’s route!) and proposes his own solution that seems pretty plausible given what we know.

I’m really into books that try to explain mysteries from the past, although not as much as, say, airplane crashes. (which are both mysteries and usually have very interesting causal chains!) But boy, after this and Into Thin Air doing anything outside in the winter sounds very unpleasant!

In 1959 a group of experienced hikers died on a winter expedition in the Ural Mountains. This by itself isn’t terribly unusual (there was a winter storm and the route was a tough one), but there were some weird evidence afterwards – it seems like they left the safety of their tent in a hurry without proper clothing (which led to some of them freezing to death), some of their clothes had higher than normal levels of radiation, and the last photograph taken was odd. The Wikipedia page has a list of possible theories.

Eichar did a lot of research, including traveling to Russia twice and hiking part of the route, and proposes his own theory.

(SPOILERS here, if that even makes sense in this context?)

He says that the storm at the time could have interacted with the nearby mounted to cause infrasound (sound at frequencies below what the human ear can hear), which may have caused enough discomfort/uneasiness that the hikers left the tent in a hurry in an attempt to get away from it. (although they probably had no idea what was actually going on) That would explain why they left without proper clothing and that led to them freezing to death. Eichar ran this theory by some people at NOAA and given the shape of the nearby mountain they agreed it was possible. The other leading theory is that there was an avalanche, although Eichar claims that the slope they were on wasn’t steep enough for an avalanche.

Fun(?) fact: infrasound has been used for crowd control, and it was even used to stir up crowds at some of Hitler’s speeches!

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