- CASE FILES
|The fateful slope of Mt Tritrans. Dying place of the hikers. The group did not reach the summit whith the shelter, only a few hundred meters above. Salvation was very close.||Peak Retranslyator (2301 m) - the structure, where it was possible to hide from the weather.|
There were seven of them: three girls, three young men from the Petropavlovsk Azimut tourclub, and their 41-year-old group leader, master of sports in hiking. The group set off on a designated route of category IV difficulty to Hamar-Daban. Only one of them returned...
Valentina Utochenko - Valya (17) survived
"The mystery of Dytalov Pass". Movie with the same name was released last week. We are talking about one of the most mysterious secrets of the Urals - the death of Dyatlov group in February 1959. However, no less terrible story happened 20 years ago in Buryatia, on the Hamar-Daban pass. In 1993, near the peak of the Retranslyator (Mt Tritrans), almost an entire hiking group perished. Only one participant of that fateful expedition remained alive.
"Inform Polis" tried to restore the history of the tragic events on Hamar-Daban according to people who participated in the search for the group and conducted an investigation into the incident. While working on the material, the correspondents were surprised at the similarities between the two tragedies.
A bit of history
We are not going to repeat the mysterious events that happened to Dyatlov group. The incident on the slope of Mt Kholat Syakhl (translated from Mansi - “The Mountain of the Dead”) is very well publicized in the media, events were attempted to be reconstructed at the “Battle of the Psychics”, there is a documentary about the case.
However, all versions (testing secret weapons, hikers went crazy, were killed by the military, hit by an avalanche, poisoned) are only hypothetical. What happened on Mt Kholat Syakhl is still a mystery. Anyone interested in this story can find on the Internet a lot of documentary evidence, photographs, artistic versions and scientific hypotheses.
So this fateful summit is not deprived of attention. But this is not the case of the incident on Hamar-Daban, where six hikers from Petropavlovsk-Kazakh died. During the investigation we had to collect material literally bit by bit. Unfortunately, little is known about some details. And the only surviving participant of the fatal expedition, which we managed to find through social networks, did not want to answer our questions. Apparently, it is just hard for her to remember what happened on the chilling August of 1993 in the mountains of Buryatia.
New publications 15 years from the release of this article in 2013:
Buryatia "Dyatlov Pass": Six hikers did not graduate from the school of survival
Our correspondent studied another strange tragedy in the mountains. Part 1
What happened at the Buryatia "Dyatlov Pass"
The surviving participant of the trek, Valentina Utochenko, told what really happened on Hamar-Daban in August 1993. Part 2
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A string of strange deaths
The media reported little about the tragedy at Mount Tritrans. Of the local publications about the incident wrote only one Irkutsk newspapers. But in Kazakhstan they talked a lot about this event. Therefore, for the chronology of events we will rely on their information.
In August 1993, a group of tourists from Petropavlovsk-Kazakh arrived by train.
— This is a completely bare part of the mountains, there are only stones, grass and wind, - the words of Leonid Izmailov, the former deputy head of the Trans-Baikal regional search and rescue service, are quoted on the forum.
For several days it was snowing over the mountains with rain. Exhausted, the group made a break. Below, at a distance of four kilometers, is the tree line of the forest. Why hikers did not descend into the forest is still a mystery.
— On the morning of August 5, they got ready to go, when suddenly at about 11 o'clock one of the boys had foam coming from his mouth and bleeding from the ears. In front of everyone, Alexander Krysin became ill, and he died shortly after, - says Leonid Izmailov.
After that, according to surviving Valentina Utochenko, complete chaos broke in the group. "Denis began to hide behind the stones and run away, Tatyana beat her head against the stones, Victoria and Timur probably went astray. Lyudmila Ivanovna died of a heart attack" - these was recorded in the search and rescue report as testimony from the surviving girl.
Here are bits from Kazakh forum referring to the incident:
After seeing the dead, Valentine went in search of people. She was saved by Ukrainian paddling in the river tourists. They first passed her, but decided to return - it seemed suspicious that the girl did not respond to their greetings. For several days the girl did not speak. The bodies were removed almost a month later, buried in zinc - the weather, animals and birds did a good job...
The scene was terrible, rescuers recall. Almost all of the victims were dressed in thin leotards, and three were barefoot. What happened on the plateau? Why, while freezing, the participants of the expedition took off their shoes? These questions remained unanswered. An autopsy was carried out in Ulan-Ude, which showed that all six died from hypothermia.
So, it is worth summing up some of the results. The events on the “Mountain of the Dead” and on the peak of Tritrans have a number of similaraties. But there are differences.
Similarities and differences between the incidents
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Hikers froze to death
In August 1993, the rescuer Yuri Golius, well-known in Buryatia, leads the search operation for the bodies of the dead tourists. Here is what he said:
— Specialists of our search and rescue service served mountaineers, hiking and skiing tourists. Registered in the Committee of Civil Defense and Emergencies were all organized tourist groups that had a route list and route book. Including the group of Lyudmila Korovina, who led a group of children from Kazakhstan.
In 1993, the country held the so-called "Turiada" - mass hikes in the forests and mountains. Lyudmila Korovina's group participated in it. At the same time on Hamar-Daban, as part of another group was her daughter. Mother and daughter agreed to meet in advance at a certain place, but the second group did not have time to come on time.
I was in Kyren, when I was informed that paddling in the river tourists brought in Slyudyanka a girl from a group lost in the mountains. I met with Valya Utochenko. The girl was in a state of shock. Nevertheless, I asked her to give a testimony. According to her, before the onset of the fateful night, the group collected and dried golden root on the pass all day long. That day there was cold rain and snow with strong wind. The exhausted hikers are very cold and hungry.
The version of what happened on the fateful morning of August 5 was discussed above. Now what happened next.
— The girl took a sleeping bag and went down the hill. She spent one night in the forest, and the next morning she climbed to the pass and closed the eyes of her dead comrades. After that, she went along the ridge, saw the poles going down from the nearby relay tower, went down to the Snezhnaya river and moved downstream. Tourists noticed her there, says the rescuer.
Experts from Chita and Gusinoozersk joined Yuri Golius’s squad, and an investigator from the prosecutor’s office was in one of the helicopters. When a team from Irkutsk arrived, the bodies of tourists were found. About a month had passed since the death of the children and their leader.
According to Yuri Golius, the cause of death of the hikers was hypothermia and loss of strength.
Exactly five years after the tragedy, the famous journalist and experienced traveler Vladimir Zharov walked along the fateful route alone..
— There was a lot of confusion in this incident. Therefore, I decided to completely repeat the route of the Kazakh group and find out what happened on the spot, - Vladimir Zharov told "Inform Polis".
His trip he timed to the 5-year date of the death of the group.
— I walked along the Langutai river in the same way, through the Langutai Gate and went to the top of Tritrans, on the slope of which the group died, - says Zharov.
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Inspection of the place of incident allowed to make certain conclusions.
— You can find a whole chain of tragic circumstances. The most important thing, of course, is the weather. August 1993 was very rainy. Later, Kazakh athletes who came to the place of death of the group could not believe it - it was summer outside, the heat was just below 30 degrees, and people were freezing to death in our country. However, this was most likely the case, says Vladimir Zharov.
Practically all the days when Korovina’s group was walking along the route, it was raining.
— Imagine, day and night pouring cold rain. Clothes and tents are wet. Campfire is hard to start. On Hamar-Daban this is hard to do even when the weather is normal, everything is raw. And here we have few days raining all day long! By August 5, the guys were tired and cold, - says Vladimir Zharov.
The food, which was only enough for the so-called "external heating" of the body, did not save from the cold. There were a number of other reasons. For example, many wondered why the group stopped on the slope, and did not begin to climb to the top, where there was a shelter, a special platform. There was firewood, a place to rest. They had to continue for only 30 minutes more. But the group stopped on a bare slope. According to Vladimir Zharov, the cause could be the inaccuracy of their map.
— It was 1993. Maps were not as accurate as they are now. The difference between what is on the map and what was in reality could be up to 100 meters. And in the mountains 100 meters are a lot, - explains the journalist.
It is possible that the group leader, experienced Lyudmila Korovina, simply did not orient in the coming dusk. Or maybe she felt sorry for the tired guys and stopped without reaching the summit, blown by the winds.
— In the morning, Lyudmila Korovina saw that snow had fallen during the night. She was an experienced traveler and immediately realized what this threatens the tired and freezing group. She gave orders to immediately turn around and go down to the edge of the forest. The guys did just that. Gathered things, rolled tents. And it was here that tragedy occurred. In front of everyone, the oldest student, Alexander, suddenly fell and died, - says Zharov.
This was a shock. The hiker that died first was the strongest and oldest of the guys, the one who could make a fire, cut boughs, help carry heavy things, support and help to the header Lyudmila Korovina. It is not difficult to imagine what feelings overwhelmed her at that moment. After all, she was responsible for the life of each member of the youth group. Korovina gives the only right command - all hikers must immediately descend to the forest. But she herself remains close to the body of the deceased boy.
What happened next is difficult to find out now. The group of teenagers began an organized descent to the forest. But then they suddenly returned. Why? Were they called back by the leader of the group? Or did they decide not to abandon Lyudmila Korovina on the snowy slope alone with the body? But what the children saw threw them into horror - the team leader died in front of their eyes too.
Further actions guys are shrouded in mystery. The forums say that teenagers have fallen into despair. Only Valentina Utochenko, who attempted to take control of the group, did not lose her composure. She tried to reassure her friends, demanded to follow the last order of Korovina - to go to the forest. Dragged them by their hands, pushed them to go down.
But, apparently, they did not obey her. The girl, realizing that all her actions were useless, went to the edge of the forest alone. In the morning, she discovered that all the other members of the group were dead.
Inspection of the place of the incident, says Vladimir Zharov, showed, that the cause of death was hypothermia. In this he fully agrees with Yuri Golius.
— I do not see here mystics here, - said the traveler. - It was an unfavorable coincidence.
9 March 2013
Testimony of the only survivor Valentina Utochenko narrated with English subtitles over the video of how the 6 death members of Korovina group were found in Mt. Tritrans, Buryatia, Russia a month after their demise on August 5th 1993.