Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar
Over a year ago while watching television late at night, I came across a B movie that was inspired by the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Immediately, after the movie was finished, I did a little research on the incident to find out if it was true and what were the facts in regards to this incident. There was a ton of stuff out there about what happened. (Pod casts, web sites, movies, documentaries, blogs, books, etc.) Some of it interesting and some of it conspiracy theorist fantasies. Because of the mystery, experience of the hikers versus their behavior on the pass and the all around abundance of intriguing evidence, there are a lot of theories of what happened. Just so you are aware, if you google images for the Dyatlov Pass Incident, be prepared for some disturbing photos. After my initial foray into researching the incident, what I found was that something happened out there that was disturbing and caused people to die.
Dyatlov Pass is located in the Ural Mountains of Russia and named after Igor Dyatlov, the leader of the hiking group that perished there. The briefest of description of the Dyatlov Pass Incident is that in February 1959 a group of nine experienced hikers died under mysterious circumstances while trying to summit Otorten Mountain. Upon completion of an investigation, the official cause of death from the authorities being listed as an “unknown compelling force.”
One of the last photographs taken by the Dyatlov Hiking Group.
Like Donnie Eichar, the author of Dead Mountain, I too wanted to know what happened. I think when you truly enjoy being out in wild places, these kinds of mysteries stick in your mind. If something mysterious could happen to these experienced hikers, could something like this happen to me in the back country?
What really happened to those hikers so long ago in the Ural Mountains? Mr. Eichar became fascinated with that question. I think in some ways because of his own experiences with surfing and his respect for nature, he couldn’t let this question go. He had to know more. That led Mr. Eichar to develop a theory based on his research and this is his book laying it out.
“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 injuries, signs that the hikers cut open and fled their tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of them, and radiation readings on some of their clothes have led to decades of speculation over what really happened.
This gripping work of literary non-fiction delves into the mystery through unprecedented access to the hikers’ own journals and photographs (many translated and reproduced here), rarely seen government records, dozens of interviews, and author Donnie Eichar’s own 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 their story, the investigators’ efforts, and Eichar’s contemporary examination, here for the first time is the real story of what happened that night on Dead Mountain.” – Book cover of Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident
I really enjoy non-fiction books about hiking and adventure. (There is a book about the early expeditions to Mount Everest that I have read at least a dozen times.) This book, Dead Mountain, has everything – hiking, adventure, conspiracy and mystery.
I enjoyed the author’s writing style. The way Mr. Eichar wove together the hikers story, the investigation, and his experiences researching the event, was fluid and piqued ones interest. Reading this book, I got the feeling that the author truly knew the material he was researching. Having done just a little research myself by searching the internet and reading some blog posts on the area, I felt that Mr. Eichar’s familiarity of the subject matter and his own personal research, helped me to find his theory of what happened to the hikers to be credible and the most logical. I was also very impressed with how respectful the author was to all he interviewed and in his writings regarding all of the different parties involved.
Monument in Yekaterinburg, Russia dedicated to the memory of the nine hikers: Yuri Doroshenko, Lyudmila (Lyuda) Dubinina, Igor Dyatlov (leader), Alexander (Sasha) Zolotaryov, Zinaida (Zina) Kolmogorova, Alexander Kolevatov, Yuri (Georgy) Krivonishchenko, Rustem (Rustik) Slobodin, and Nikolay (Kolya) Thibault-Brignoles.
I highly recommend this book. Whether or not you are familiar with the Dyatlov Incident, you will be able to understand and enjoy the book. It is well researched and written. The book also provides a respectful accounting of the investigation, hikers route and experiences and a logical, natural explanation of a tragic event.