This rare once in a lifetime expedition is something that I think exists outside of the events of the day and will hopefully advance the knowledge of this fascinating incident for people the world over. It is a milestone in our efforts to uncover all existing details and mysteries about the Dyatlov case.
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|The road back »|
|Ushma and Vizhay »|
No one knew until now where the labaz (or the last but one campsite) of the Dyatlov group was. Aleksandr (Sasha) Konstantinov claims to have found it (61 44 48.1N 59 26 58.0E). He was hoping to confirm a fire or cans. We carried two metal detectors for this purpose. Although no metal artifacts were found on this site, these metal detectors will make history on the next day. On the alleged labaz Sasha K. found partially sawed branches 3.5m high because the snow was ~ 2m judging by the photos and how much of the tree trunks were covered. He also dug up 2 pieces of birch bark 3 cm underground and said that this must be the bottom of the labaz. They did look like insulation, maybe it was under the tent and then it was used for the bottom of the labaz.
Sasha Kuntsevich and his son Vanya joined the 13th expedition for the hanging of the memorial plaque of their (grand)father and then turned back to Moscow.
Sasha Kuntsevich and his son Vanya joined the 13th expedition for the hanging of the memorial plaque of their (grand)father and then turned back to Moscow.
As you can see we added to the existing bear infestation on the Dyatlov Pass. I hope the photos will make you feel the warm camaraderie in the group. BTW I am wearing a black tshirt that says "Медведь" = "Bear" because I am Teddy Bear.
The two Teddy Bears bring tangerines to the Dyatlov group whenever they can. The Dyatlov group shared a tangerine on January 30 according to the diary entry. On this particular occasion the tangerines were gone one hour after they were gifted.
Today we were having the tour with Shura Aleeksenkov pointing out the locations where the events and findings took place. I was hoping to see something that confirmed my theory but in no way did I suspect what I am in for. Aleksey Komanyov, who is an advocate for the paranormal, explained that the aberrations always appear in the peripheral sight and they disappear when you turn to look at them. In my case when I caught sight of what I was hoping to find and went for a closer look, it stayed there with the colossal certainty of death itself. It was there, Shura Aleeksenkov knew about it, and yet, somehow no one saw its significance. Can you guess what it is? It appears on two consecutive photos. I took mental note and didn't insist on agitating people, but decided to return to investigate. That is when I found something everyone was looking for. I found it right there where no one believed it was possible. I know I am a tease, but I am getting scientific confirmation of what it means as we speak. I wouldn't waste your time if it turned out to be nothing. "Blessed Are the Meek, for They Will Inherit the Earth" (Matthew 5:5)
On August 5-6 Oleg and Olga Taymen, the leader of the expedition Aleksandr Komanyov and I headed for an overnight stay in the area of the cedar. Oleg and Olga are video bloggers with previous tracks in the Dyatlov case. In 2021, 46 meters from the cedar, next to the den, they found pieces of skis and bindings of the Red Army, a military model of 1920-1946. Aleksandr Komanyov brought a thermal imager so we can hunt if something is lurking in the dark. Both parties had metal detectors to search the creek. I just wanted to investigate the fallen tree I had seen the day before and take advantage of the metal detectors to search around it. Sasha Konstantinov, who found the labaz, and is an expert in forestry, promised to join us on August 6 and take a kernel from the fallen tree.
We brought two tin cans from this expedition. Although possibly they were both consumed in 1959, the location where they were found makes all the difference in the world. Their examination is in progress, click on the tin can to read where are we at the moment.
I chose August 7 (Igor's nickname was s777) for the day I will go up Kholat Syakhl (1079) with the book "1079" and a GPS to illustrate what the name stands for. I asked who can lend me a GPS and both Shura Alekseenkov and Sasha Konstantinov responded that they don't mind walking with me. They are real troopers.
Part of the group decided to go on Kholat Syakhl on Day 3. Photos by Sergey Ipatov.
Mikhail Neprikayanny (aka Shamil) went on Kholat Syakhl on Day 4.
On top of Kholat Syakhl (aka 1079), video by Хэтфилд recorded in 2020: "The ominous bird was on guard, making alarming calls the whole time and finally chasing me away. Maybe the Mansi spirits talked to me."
We looked into many theories, including Yeti and the Swiss avalanche.
Aleksandr Aleeksenkov (pereval1959.kamrbb.ru): My objective was to measure the steepness of the slope/snowfield at the place of avalanches in March 2021 and January 2022 at the southern pass of Kholat Syakhl (939m 939m 61 44 9.48N 59 24 13.38E, 883m 61 44'8.82N 59 24 20.76E). It turned out to be not so easy to do this. On the lower half of the remaining snowfield, the slope was 45°! It didn't occur to me to bring crampons. I had to cut steps, drive the knife into the snow up to the handle and hold on to it all the time with one hand. In the other hand I had a protractor (which all the time darted to go down), a notebook, and a pencil. The goniometer rod was 2.5 meters long. Those interested can analyze the results and draw conclusions. For those in a hurry I will point out four measurements. If the depressions in the relief are minimally smoothed with snow, then
- at the site of the avalanche, the slope has 31.7° (maximum - up to 36°)
- where the tent was found the slope is 20.1°(maximum - up to 26°).
As they say in Odessa "feel the two big differences".
Александр Алексеенков (pereval1959.kamrbb.ru): Основное из моих намерений - замерить крутизну склона/снежника на месте схода лавин в марте 21-го и январе 22-го на южном перевале ХЧ (939m 939m 61 44 9.48N 59 24 13.38E, 883m 61 44'8.82N 59 24 20.76E). Это не так просто оказалось сделать - круто, однако, там. На нижней половине оставшегося снежника крутизна была под 45 градусов! Что могут потребоваться кошки - такого мне в голову не пришло дома. Пришлось рубить ступени вгонять по рукоятку нож в снег и держаться всё время за него одной рукой. А другой орудовать угломером (который всё время наровил уехать вниз), тетрадкой, карандашом. Штанга угломера была длиной 2,5 метра (как и в предыдущие замеры). Заинтересованные могут анализировать результаты и делать выводы. Для тех, кому лениво углубляться, приведу четыре значения. Eсли минимально сгладить снегом минусы рельефа, то:
- на месте лавины склон имеет 31.7 градуса (максимально - до 36 градусов)
- над МП склон имеет 20.1 градуса (максимально - до 26 градусов).
Как говорят в Одессе - почувствуйте две большие разницы.
The road back is the time for contemplation, for the information to sink in, to think about what's next, for taking note of how to get in touch with the people around you. In my case it was also a time for the big shock that the share of group supplies on the way back (4 kg for women, 5 for men) was not much lighter than on the way to the pass (5 kg for women, 7 for men). The thought that my backpack will be lighter on the way back was what kept my spirit strong and when I was handed the 4 kg I knew I was going to fall apart. My "lighter" backpack was 20 kg and I couldn't mount it myself, I needed someone to put it on my back. Shura Alekseenkov tried to lift my spirit by bringing me pine cones from the top of the trees, and when this didn't work, he offered to take my supplies. Shura is the man who ensures everyone makes it in one piece. In 2021, when Yuri Kuntsevich felt sick, Shura took his backpack and went back with him to the place where he could hitch a transportation to Ivdel. Shura gave me a day of reflecting on the beautiful forest, trees covered with witch's hair, and enjoying the trail and life in general. I could fly with a 16 kg backpack. He was the true gentleman who heard a woman say "I can't" and believed it. No one knew my bones look like this. The incident happened 10 years ago (distal-humerus.com), and it is all peachy, but 20 kg for 60 km is not what I should be doing. And yet again, I am going back to the taiga as soon as I can. This quote is attributed to Kinky Freidman (or Charles Bukowski), but whoever said it, it's the motto of my life: "Find what you love and let it kill you." What Aleksey Korolyev explained to me is that you never should stay without supplies in the taiga. Everyone I talk to has been overloaded in these expeditions, and at the end you leave your supplies in Ushma, or Ilycha's hut, you don't carry it back to civilization.
The Dyatlov group was in Vizhay on Jan 26, 1959 →
More about Vizhay →
Every expedition to the Dyatlov Pass starts and ends in Ivdel, even if you don't make it out alive.
Northern Geological Expedition →
On August 10, 2022, we had time to kill till the train, so everyone jumped on their phones. Me and Ayna bought a can of beer each and hid behind some old barrack. Police came and that was that. Kind of reminded me how Krivonischenko got arrested for singing in Serov Jan 24, 1959.
"At the attention of citizen Krivonischenko, sergeant explained that the rules of §3 prohibited all activity that would disturb the peace of passengers. It is perhaps the only train station where the songs are forbidden, so we stayed without singing." Yudin, Jan 24, 1959.
My comrades in this expedition didn't drink alcohol, except Shamil, who had a 350ml Cognac which we distributed evenly in the last day of the expedition. I had to introduce coffee to grown ass men. Shura (I am not going to the Dyatlov Pass without him) had a bag of grounded Lavazza in his backpack which he only produced in the final days of the trek (he forgot he had it) after I ran out of my private stash of pathetic 2in1 packages of instant coffee. How can he forget? I could eat up my shoes to alleviate the load. The only thrill during the trek were the meals with hand picked mushrooms. When I joked that this is like a Russian roulette they didn't even know what that is. When we got together in the Dyatlov foundation we only drank tea, but there was always a lot of home made food, either by the widow of Yuri Kuntsevich, delicate, beautiful, and good-hearted Olga, but also everyone brought stuff.
One year since the passing of Yuri Kuntsevich, who was the core of the Dyatlov Foundation for the last 20 years.
“The only way to survive after death is by breathing life into the universe before death.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson
Yuri Kuntsevich began so many things that thrive after his death, he will live forever in the trees under which he camped, in the children's smiles that he thought to love the mountain, and in the songs by the fire. His golden heart, devotion and hospitality made him friends all around the world. We all follow in his steps, stronger than ever.
Photos with dates are from Shamil's camera. Mikhail Neprikayanny (aka Shamil) is a veteran on the Dyatlov Pass. He is there every year no matter what. Last year he managed to explode a gas bottle, not by himself, as it was a group's accomplishment. He was the one mostly painfully burned because it dawned on him what was happening and he tried to prevent it. The bottle blew up like in a cartoon. He and Ayna, who was also in the way of the blast, are on the pass again, for the 8th time in 2022. Read more about the fateful expedition in 2021 →
Shamil's fame preceded him. When our paths crossed with other groups they asked if Shamil was with us. He has the habit of rambling the mountain by himself, often because he lost something and he is looking for it. In 2022 he managed to lose and find first his tent, then his camera. Shamil seems to be all over the place but never where you expect him to be.
Some of the members from the Dyatlov Pass expedition 2022 continue their journey. Aleksey Vasyov and his dog Ural reached Manpupuner, 50 km (31 mi) from the Dyatlov Pass. Man-Pupu-ner in the Mansi language means “a small mountain of idols”. The Mansi believed the hill on which the rocks now stand to be sacred ground. No one was allowed to go there. But one day, seven giants came from afar to destroy the Mansi people. They ascended the heights and were literally petrified by the gods.
Ural is a fearless dog who doesn't hesitate to chase after the bears and the video below shows his encounter with a bear in 2021. And there is another video with a bear and her cub that shows how to get the bear's attention banging a metal plate and spoon. The masters of the mountains don't want to mess with people. They are dangerous only if startled and if you get in their way. This is the general rule, but there are exceptions (* read below videos), so you have to always move in groups and make a lot of noise. We apologize for the shaky videos.
* A bear attacked writer Sergey Fadeev who published a book on the Dyatlov Pass incident "State Secret Mountain of the Dead". was at the location where the tent was found on the slope of Kholat Syakhl. The bear came not from the ravine of Auspiya where the cedar tree is but from the ridge. Sergey Fadeev was taken by surprise since usually your interest is towards the forest, there is nothing but the bare mountain slope behind you. The researcher used the the metal pole that was marking the location of the tent to fend off screaming at the bear who retreated. The incident happened on the 2018 expedition of the Dyatlov foundation. Although Fadeev was not touched by the bear he fell badly on his shoulder and as a result form the stress and the trauma his health declined. He never returned to the Dyatlov Pass.
When it comes down to the argument that the bears were hibernating when the incident happened, not all bears hibernate, they are called shatuns. The word "shatun" in Russian means wandering. This is a bear that staggers (both literally and figuratively) in winter, instead of sleeping in a den. A shatun is a brown predator that has not had time to accumulate enough fat for the winter and continues to roam in search of food. This may be due to starvation, illness or injury. Such a beast is very dangerous, it is driven only by hunger. And it's doomed. A bear, disturbed by something or someone during hibernation, can also become a shatun. For example, during natural disasters, such as a volcanic eruption or an earthquake, during forest clearing or geological work, snowmobiles driving directly near the hibernation site, the bear can leave the den early. If this happens in March, then there is a chance to feed, not become a shatun and survive. Kronotsky Reserve
In short that is a bear that you do not want to meet. There are plenty of old trapper’s tales about running afoul of a hungry bear that was supposed to be asleep. Remember, that bear needs food badly. It is big strong and incredibly fast. So in winter, contrary to what you should do when bears are supposed to be awake, which is to warn them ahead, it is best if you keep quiet so you don't stumble upon their den and wake them by accident. No one likes to be disturbed when resting. On the Dyatlov Pass this is a real danger with all the snowmobiles - the widely advertised means of transportation for tourists that want to pay homage for the anniversary of the incident.