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

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

4.1 61
by Donnie Eichar
     
 

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In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of

Overview

In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened. This New York Times bestseller is a gripping work of literary nonfiction delves into the mystery through unprecedented access to the hikers' own journals and photographs, rarely seen government records, dozens of interviews, and the author's retracing of the hikers' fateful journey in the Russian winter. A fascinating portrait of the young hikers in the Soviet era, and a skillful interweaving of the hikers narrative, the investigators' efforts, and the author's investigations, here for the first time is the real story of what happened that night on Dead Mountain.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/12/2013
The mystery of the bizarre deaths of elite Russian hikers in a 1959 tragedy on a deadly Ural mountain is the subject of Eichar’s extensive investigation. Eichar, a film director and producer, tries to make sense of the puzzling tale of the dead students from Ural Polytechnic University; he sets off to interview the hikers’ relatives, investigators, and even a lone survivor. Following the search party’s retrievals of the bodies, the questions deepen when the victims are discovered, insufficiently dressed for the frigid weather, shoeless, with violent injuries, including a horrible skull fracture, a leg torn away, and a tongue ripped out. With expert analysis of the remaining evidence, Eichar tries to answer why the hikers, seven men and two women, would go out into the bitter cold without warm clothing to meet certain death; curious, too, is that the contents of the tent were intact. Possible causes for the panic, according to Eichar and officials, are: an avalanche; mysterious armed men; even a fatal tiff by the males over the women. As the elements of this complicated tangle are compiled, the final wrap-up of the mountain tragedy is overwhelming, befitting a case defying explanation. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Dead Mountain reads like a mystery, with flashback chapters that lead up to the last known details of the ill-fated adventure. Author Eichar is a documentary filmmaker who fell into the 50-year-old mystery. Determined to unravel the clues, he takes a winter hike into the same mountains. His research leads him to sort through the classic explanations-avalanche, attack by the local Mansi people, high winds, armed men, weapons testing, and even aliens. Punctuated with primary source documents, readers will be riveted to the final conclusion of the true story of the Dyatlov Pass incident."
School Library Journal

A Junior Library Guild Selection

A "Best of L.A." pick- Los Angeles Magazine"

They say the best stories, the most compelling ones, are the ones based in truth that is so strange that you think it must be fiction. . . . Eichar has engaged in a Sherlock Holmes-style process of elimination investigation to what could have happened to the hikers. . . . [A] true life mystery, finally solved."
-National Geographic Weekend"

The mystery of the bizarre deaths of elite Russian hikers in a 1959 tragedy on a deadly Ural mountain is the subject of Eichar's extensive investigation. Eichar, a film director and producer, tries to make sense of the puzzling tale of the dead students from Ural Polytechnic University; he sets off to interview the hikers' relatives, investigators, and even a lone survivor. Following the search party's retrievals of the bodies, the questions deepen when the victims are discovered, insufficiently dressed for the frigid weather, shoeless, with violent injuries, including a horrible skull fracture, a leg torn away, and a tongue ripped out. With expert analysis of the remaining evidence, Eichar tries to answer why the hikers, seven men and two women, would go out into the bitter cold without warm clothing to meet certain death; curious, too, is that the contents of the tent were intact. Possible causes for the panic, according to Eichar and officials, are: an avalanche; mysterious armed men; even a fatal tiff by the males over the women. As the elements of this complicated tangle are compiled, the final wrap-up of the mountain tragedy is overwhelming, befitting a case defying explanation."
-Publishers Weekly"

The Dyatlov Pass incident is virtually unknown outside Russia, but in that country, it's been a much-discussed mystery for decades. In 1959, nine Russian university students disappeared on a hiking expedition in the Ural Mountains. A rescue team found their bodies weeks later, nearly a mile from their campsite, partially clothed, shoeless, three of them having died from injuries that indicated a physical confrontation. What happened here? There have been a lot of theories, ranging from misadventure to government conspiracy to freak weather to extraterrestrials, but no one has managed to get to the truth. Drawing on interviews with people who knew the hikers (and with the lone survivor of the expedition, who'd had to turn back due to illness), Russian case documents, and the hikers' own diaries, Eichar, an American documentarian, re-creates the ill-fated expedition and the investigation that followed. The author's explanation of what happened on Dead Mountain is necessarily speculative, but it has the advantage of answering most of the long-standing questions while being intuitively plausible. A gripping book, at least as dramatic as Krakauer's Into Thin Air (1997). "
-Booklist"

Readers will appreciate the drama and poignancy of Eichar's solid depiction of this truly eerie and enduring mystery."
-Library Journal"

Five Stars...The best investigation on [The Dyatlov Pass Incident] that I have ever read."
-Mysterious Universe podcast"

Dead Mountain piques your curiosity from start to finish as the details of these nine young and vibrant hikers unfold to explain their brave fight for survival in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. "
-Malibu Magazine"

An American documentary filmmaker drops into the well of one of Soviet Russia's greatest mysteries. . . . A sad tale of tragedy and investigatory enigmas from the wilds of Soviet Union."
-Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
11/01/2013
In 1959, nine young Russians set off on a doomed ski trip in the wintry Ural Mountains, never to return. Eichar, a television documentary producer, investigates the mysterious events leading to the untimely deaths of these experienced outdoor adventurers, whose frozen bodies were found later by search parties, some with severe injuries and one lacking a tongue. The author ably pieces together a detailed chronicle of this haunting incident, using official case files, interviews, journals, and other evidence. Through his research into the many bizarre and seemingly unexplainable aspects of the tragedy, he attempts to rule out previously suggested causes such as an avalanche, an attack by a native tribe, Soviet weapons testing, and even aliens. While recreational readers will appreciate the drama and poignancy of Eichar's solid depiction of this truly eerie and enduring mystery, pickier researchers may question the lack of bibliography or notes to indicate exact sources, which makes the accuracy of his re-creation of certain events difficult to judge. VERDICT Best suited to fans of outdoor adventure or survival tales or to general nonfiction readers who appreciate the allure of an engrossing real-life enigma. Readers may also want to consider Keith McCloskey's Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident, published last month (but which was not seen by this reviewer).—Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-24
An American documentary filmmaker drops into the well of one of Soviet Russia's greatest mysteries. Eichar, who has shot everything from short documentaries to TV pilots, applies a documentarian's eye to this thorough but inconclusive investigation into one of the East's most controversial tragedies. "The Dyatlov Pass Incident" is quite famous in some circles, especially in Russia and the Baltics, but little-known outside the former Iron Curtain. In 1959, nine young hikers suddenly disappeared in the northern Ural Mountains. When the group was finally found, six had died of exposure, while three were found to have traumatic, blunt-force injuries. One girl was missing her tongue. None were fully dressed, as if they had fled suddenly in the dead of night. It was a gruesome scene, made more so by a flood of conspiracy theories. Were they murdered by the military after witnessing some kind of secret test? Was it UFOs or just an avalanche? The final report by investigators, which is murky at best, blames "an unknown compelling force." Eichar marries the short story of the students' lives with the procedural tale of the official investigation and then integrates his own amateur investigation. In an interesting twist, the author managed to track down Yuri Yudin, the sole survivor of the expedition, who had turned back due to his rheumatism, saving his life. Yudin, who passed away earlier this year, was mischievous with the serious young scholar: "Do you not have mysteries in your own country that are unsolved?"; "Which picture do you want to paint? The one rooted in the Revolution, or that of the Iron Curtain?" The author deftly explores theories common and uncommon, the most off-putting being an infrasonic wave known to cause hallucinations and disorientation. It's not a revelatory portrait of the incident, but for Western readers, it's a well-told and accurate whodunit. A sad tale of tragedy and investigatory enigmas from the wilds of Soviet Union.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781452129563
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
10/22/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
36,234
File size:
8 MB

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Meet the Author

Donnie Eichar is a Florida native brought up among a family of storytellers. He's an acclaimed director and producer of film and television who recently produced MTV's groundbreaking documentary series The Buried Life. He lives in Malibu, California.

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Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident 4.1 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 61 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had never heard of this event until I saw the book at barnes.  I did some research on google to see what it was all about.  So many theories exist on what happened to this kids, mostly around the supernatural, extraterrestrial, or government secrets. I was intrigued, so I decided to see what his take on it was. I promise you the authors take on what happened is nothing you will find on google.  He personally travels to russia and follows the path of the hikers (despite having no mountaineering experience)  He debunks all the myths and puts a realistic ending to a story we will never truly know.  Reads like a narrative whether back in the setting of 1959 or his personal 2012 hike.  If you like "into thin air" or other books about mountaineering, this is worth the time
AltoLibrarian More than 1 year ago
Donnie Eichar has written a well-researched and interesting account of the hikers that perished in the Dyatlov Pass Incident. He was able to connect with the only surviving member of the group (now deceased) and retrace the steps of the original hikers. Chapters alternate between the story of the hikers and his own story of discovery. In the end he presents the various theories of why and how they died, and why he believes a new theory, using current scientific techniques, is the correct one. A quick and fascinating read of a very strange event from the Cold War era.
mjamer06 More than 1 year ago
Story was well researched, and written. I purchased the Nook version and it was well worth it...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gives great tribute to the victims of the Dyatlov Pass incident. The book is very captivating and goes into thorough detail of the lives and last hike of the victims. This was the first book I have read on my newly purchased nook simple touch and the nook version is great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intersperses a gripping tale of tragic adventure with the author's heroic struggle to understand what happened without learning Russian. Finds a likely explanation for the mysteries of the first.
Jski8 More than 1 year ago
Well written and engaging. Good choice for non fiction readers.
HeidiU More than 1 year ago
I have heard this story on various television shows (usually about aliens) so I was immediately intrigued by this book. The author wrote a very approachable and easy to understand book about this event, avoiding the extreme theories of aliens etc. It was very interesting and pulled me in immediately. Definitely a fun and fast read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never heard of this story until now. Good story line with the breakdown of possibilities with a scientific logical ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really a very fascinating book, though I got the sense that the author had to stretch his content to make an entire book of it. Still, I had a hard time putting it down.
Louiser2 More than 1 year ago
Very interesting! In 1959, a group of nine young Communist Russian hikers hike out to the Ural Mountains, set up a tent, and then all nine leave the tent in the middle of the night to disperse to their deaths. But why?? Until now, no one has been able to figure it out. That's the mystery that captured the author's imagination and wouldn't let go until he had undertaken two trips to Russia at his own expense to find out. An easy, captivating read, the author leads us through the event and keeps us guessing the outcome until the end. In the hands of an investigative reporter such as Vincent Bugliosi (Helter Skelter), this story had the potential to be twice as long, and filled with all kinds of information about Russians, the USSR, the KGB, Gulags, native-peoples, forensic science, hiking, physics, etc., but in this author's hands it reads somewhat like a research project report. But it's still a good read, don't get me wrong. I definitely recommend it. I also give the author credit for all the time and effort he put into investigating and then writing about this very interesting cold-case. I think the story would benefit from a diagram of the tent and topography with the location and names of the hikers as they were found in the surrounding area, relative to each other and the tent.
Hildy More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pulled along by the mystery I learned a lot about Russia. Russian youth at that time were made of a tougher material. They had to work hard to entertain themselves and share sport. I am glad to have known them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an extremely sad story, definitely…but the authors efforts to learn the CAUSE of the TRAGEDY is truly commendable. Definitely a worthwhile read. And educational, to boot.
Buddez99 More than 1 year ago
A great deal of research went into this book. It was a tremendous undertaking to attempt to uncover, and discover what really happened to the cross country skiers. The story is very sad, and heartbreaking, but the theories surrounding the historical facts are very enlightening. It was hard to put down.
gken88 More than 1 year ago
Fascinating story, well researched/written and has (to me) a surprising conclusion. Also a vivid portrayal of rural Russia in 1959.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was weird but also I had to keep reading it.I would recommend it to anyone who wants something totally different . I was blown away by the conclusion , I liked the book , at first I almost quit reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book makes me wonder about many other unsolved mysteries of this kind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never heard of this event so purchased and was not disappointed. Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was filled with questions after i began reading Dead Mountain. They were all believably answered by the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down. What happened to scare experienced hikers to run into the freezing cold barefoot and without any chance to survive?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago