A group of 9 people approached the slope of height 1079, and stopped for the night above the forest boundary. Without taking off their skis, the guys trampled down the area for the tent. They took off the skis, laid them with the sliding surface up, and put a tent on top of them. The next day they wanted to ascend to Mount Otorten with a height of 1182 m.
The mountain is 13 km away. The elevation difference of 350-400 m did not present any particular difficulties for the strong hikers. The slopes are gentle, "ski-friendly".
February 2, 1959. It has been very cold since lunch. The wind grew stronger and by 3 pm it was already blowing with such force that one could “lie down” on it. We descended from Mount Chistop, 1292m, into the forest zone at dusk. We are a group of 2-4 year students of the Geography Department of the Sverdlovsk Pedagogical Institute. The author of these lines led the group. We gathered dry wood for the night, lit a fire, and prepared dinner. By 7 pm the wind had almost died down. It became unusually quiet after hours of howling wind. It was sharply cold. By 9 pm, someone looked at the thermometer and remarked, "The alcohol is in the ball." The temperature was below 53 degrees. (Before quicksilver there were thermometers using alcohol, it is red in color. - ed.)
Dyatlov’s group at altitude 1079 at that time had "dinner" in the tent. Without a fire, what is dinner - a snack. When necessary, Dubinina* leaves the tent, putting on boots and a jacket.
A scream came from outside that forced them to cut the tent, get out and, seeing "this", run down into the forest.
"This" flew silently and at low speed from south to north over the Ural ridge. It was glowing, and quite bright. The illumination of low-floating clouds at an altitude of 2.5-3 km was unusual. Mikhail Vladimirov from our group exclaimed: "I wish I could take a picture." And the frost is 50 degrees, try taking off your gloves.
"It" flew over the mountains to the west 15-17 kilometers, without descending, and disappeared over the horizon, leaving a light trail in the low clouds. And we were left to while away this frosty night by the fire. No one slept, or rather could not sleep.
Dyatlov's group, having attempted to light a fire, decided to return to the tent.
Not all. An incomplete, cold snack, fatigue after a day's trek with a climb to the pass, low temperature and possible bruises received while running along the slope to the forest led to exhaustion.
Nobody reached the tent. Dubinina* (Kolmogorova - ed.) was closest to the tent; she was wearing shoes and dressed warmer.
The main mistake of the group was organizing an overnight stay above the forest line.
If "this" had exploded, it would have hit us too, on the eastern slope of Chistop.
Our fire burned all night. We survived thanks to the fire and the persistence with which we padded each other, not letting anyone fall asleep.
After this cold night it was a quiet, sunny and very frosty day. After 15 hours of "running" on skis down to the people and warmth, we reached district 41. "We weren’t expecting to see you anymore", the workers greeted us.
Dyatlov's group remained forever in the forest, taking with them a mysterious secret.
* * *
Shumkov group's route is added in grey on the Dyatlov group route map →
The idea of a ski trip belongs to 4th year student Slava Serdityh:
- What if we go to Chistop? Victor Bogomolov’s group from Uralmash is going to Konzhak, Vladislav Karelin’s goup is going to Denezhkin Kamen, Igor Dyatlov’s group from UPI is going to Otorten.
- At the same time, we’ll take a detour into the Trans-Ural taiga, we’ll get acquainted with the life and folklore of the indigenous inhabitants of the Urals, the Mansi (Voguls). Perhaps, we, future geographers, will need this knowledge in our future work", said team leader Tolya Shumkov. "Yes, and the educational part will be related to sports", we agreed. After all, Chistop is slightly inferior in height to Konzhak and Denezhkin and even higher than Otorten.
We were approved at the Sverdlovsk Routing commission for a second category of difficulty. At that time there were only three categories. So our "two" corresponded to the current "three" or "four". So, there are ten of us. Tolya Shumkov, Zhora Klein, Faya Abramova and I are in our second year, and the rest - Slava Serdityh, Tolya Burakov and four girls - are in our fourth year. We didn’t know them very well: they went on treks in parallel with us and before us. In general, we are not new to sports and hiking.
The team's equipment was meager. For ten people there are only four old, torn cotton sleeping bags. Narrow, sports skis, with boots, flannel ski suits, cotton jackets, canvas tents, heavy and without stoves, gaiters instead of shoe covers. True, everyone had felt boots, woolen helmets, warm mittens, we gather them "from around the world".
Map of the hiking area in the Northern Urals
Scale 1: 6500
- 2 -
A little history of the region. The name "YUGRA" covers a vast area of the lower and middle basin of the Ob and its tributaries. Tribes and nationalities of the Finno-Ugric language group lived here for a long time: Khanty (Ostyaks), Mansi (Voguls). To the south are the Siberian Tatars. Moreover, there are more Khanty along the Ob and its large tributaries, as well as along the northern tundra. The Khanty are much larger in number than the Mansi. The ancient Mansi tribes lived not only along the eastern slope of the Urals, but also in the Cis-Urals. Judging by the surviving names of villages, rivers, peaks, the southern border of the settlement of this people extended to the latitude of the Sylva, Tagil, Chusovaya, Tavda rivers and even to the Cherry Mountains. Here and now you will find the names: Vogulka, Vogulsky, Vogulskaya. Under the onslaught of stronger numerous Komi-Zyryans, Komi-Permyaks, Nenets, the Mansi were pushed beyond the Urals. And from the east, from the Ob, the Khanty were pressing.
Some of the tribes from the western slope of the Urals moved west along the East European Plains to Western Europe and settled in the Danube Lowland, mixed with local peoples and formed the Hungarian nation and state. Until now, the Hungarians have retained some external features and linguistic roots of their ancestors - the Mansi. Now the Mansi live only in the Khanty-Mansiysk National Okrug and the Ivdel District of the Sverdlovsk Region. Many of them have become Russified, speak (especially men) Russian, but also retain their native language. As in ancient times, the Mansi are skilled reindeer herders, hunters, and fishermen. They carefully preserve their way of life. People living in our region speak the Verkhneye - Lozva dialect.
Even at the beginning of the 20th century, Mansi settlements were in the Vagil, upper middle Pelym, and Tavda basins. The Mansi population is steadily dying out. There are only a little more than 200 people left. On the old map of the Sverdlovsk region (1956) there is a small circle: Sobyanin's Yurt. Isn’t this the homeland of the current governor of the Tyumen region, Sobyanin? There is something in his appearance and facial features that is Mansi!
It is the northernmost large urban village in our region. The railway to the north ends here. From here our route begins to the north, to the country of Ugra. The village clings comfortably to the easternmost slope of the Ural Mountains. Look to the left - a blue stone belt of a mountain range. Look to the right, the West Siberian Plain goes beyond the horizon. What wit came up with the name for the village?! The name itself evokes something melancholy. Yes, the first settlers, unconvoyed prisoners and Germans from the Volga region resettled here during World War II had no fun exploring this deserted mountain-taiga region. But we have to! The country desperately needed manganese - without it you couldn’t weld strong armor for tanks or super-strong steel for guns and rifles.
We go down to the manganese mine for an excursion. The mine is like a coal mine: the same low wet drifts, the same trolleys with rock and ore. We stopped for the night with the family of Zhora Klein. The house is clean and comfortable, as befits a German family. The most amazing thing is that we were treated to watermelons! This is in the month of January! This is in the Northern Urals! This is what German enterprise means! But it's time to hit the road. “The road from the threshold leads to the east, another goes to the west...” And for now we are heading north. Our nearest destination is the village of Burmantovo. It’s 60 kilometers away from at least some kind of country road, swept away by the last snowstorm. But walking along the road with heavy backpacks is still easier - you have complete confidence that you are going where you need to go. A reindeer team is rushing ahead. A man in a malitsa controls it while standing. Gray hair flutters in the wind. Characteristic Mansi facial features. "Pache, ruma!" we shout cheerfully in greeting. This is our entire Mansi dictionary so far. "Pase, pase", the old man smiles. Why did he answer "pase" and not "pache or pachache?" - we ask Klein. He had met Mansi before. - This is the Verkhneye-Lozvinsky dialect. They say "pase" - hello - and not "pache". And he goes to Polunochnoe to buy groceries.
After 6 kilometers we encountered our first setback. Tolya Burakov, sliding into a steep ravine, managed to fall and break his ski in half. This is at the beginning of the route! What will happen ahead, in the mountains and in the taiga? We had a spare ski, we had to take turns to tie it to the our backpacks. Now what? It, of course, got in the way, but it was calmer with a spare.
We spent the night in a small forest area in Severny. The hut is, of course, cold, but still better than a tent.
The village of Burmantovo is located on the left bank of Lozva. Quite big.
Lumberjacks, hunters, and fishermen live here. We were accomodated in an elementary school. But on one condition, we must perform in front of the guys.
- So what kind of artists are we? We are kikers!
- So what? After all, you are future teachers, you should be able to do everything!
We started to think what we could do. Well, we can scream tourist songs, Tolya Burakov could play the accordion, and Slava plays the guitar. These instruments are available at the school. Shumkov uses a drum, Zhora uses traveling spoons as castanets. Galya Ryazanova and Zoya Shilova have been training in the gymnastics section for four years, they even took sports tights with them.
-...Let give them a show, we decided. Zhora will be the announcer. Faya will sing solo. Slava and Tolya came up with some jokes. In general, we collected all sorts of things impromptu. I even made a "report" about hikers: who does it, what they eat, what they drink, and where they go, what they are looking for, although they have not lost anything...
The concert, to our surprise, went well, they didn’t even throw rotten apples and tomatoes at us. They probably simply didn’t have them. The school was full of children, even adult parents came. They saw us off very warmly and also invited us again. Well done! Found the artists in us!
- 3 -
Hello, friend! From Burmantovo, logging roads run mainly along the Ural Mountains. After all, there, on the slopes of the mountains, good coniferous forests grow. And we need to go to the northeast. There, among countless swamps, lakes, forested manes, rivers and rivulets, rare Mansi settlements are scattered over tens and hundreds of miles. Even on the small-scale map of the Sverdlovsk region, which we use, there are rare circles with the inscriptions: Anyamovs Yurt, Bakhtiyarovs Yurt, Kurikovs Yurt, Sambikdaevs Izba... We took straight to Anyamovs yurt. According to the map, it is on the Lemya stream, a tributary of the Upper Pelym. We use the tracks of reindeer sledges in some places, and track tracks in others. Hell of a job! Narrow skis sink into knee-deep snow. Sunny, frosty. And suddenly a large gray spot with intertwined dry twigs sways on the clean mane. Yes, this is a herd of deer! Now a small figure has separated from the herd and is quickly running on wide (not like ours!) skis towards us.
- Pache, ruma! And we answer in unison: - Pachache, pacache! The little man looks at us in surprise, where did these people come from? With no less interest and surprise, we looked at the reindeer herder, small in stature, dressed in a light fur top, with the fur on the inside. On his feet are high boots. No headwear. The face is beardless, without wrinkles. Blue-black hair is braided into two braids and tied with red ribbons. Who is this? Is it man or a woman? By all appearances he should be a man, but the braids with ribbons are what confuses us. The black coals of the eyes mockingly look at our doubts.
- My yurt, walk through the swamp, it’s not far.
Wait for us. So, it's a man. This "not far" seemed to us about five kilometers... Finally, on a high bank of the river we see a chum and smoke above it. We climb up. Summer chum, birch bark. Nearby is a wooden half-bath or half-dugout.
This winter home is a yurt. We look into the tent, an iron stove is burning, and a figure in a malitsa is bent over next to it. She's doing something with the fur skins. This woman-man will not engage in the shameful task of sewing clothes. He is a breadwinner! But why is she so small, still a girl, but already doing hard work? Our girls sat down next to her and tried to talk - in vain. She doesn't know Russian. They explained themselves more through gestures and facial expressions. They found out that she was already 50 years old. That's how "little girl" is! Either she is a distant relative, or Peter’s second wife... What is it like for her in the winter in a light birch bark tent!
The Anyamovs arrived on reindeer. The owner's name is Peter. He is baptized. He, like other Mansi, has Russian names, and family names. They only pray to their own pagan gods. In a secret place they pray and make sacrifices. One of the peaks is called: Prayer Stone.
We go into the house. For some reason it is called by a Turkic name: yurt. Actually, there is a complete leapfrog in the names of mountains and rivers. The Mansi call the mountains: IZ, and the Komi - HEP, the Khanty - in their own way. When you ask: what is the difference between Mansi and Khanty? Even learned and intelligent men find it difficult to answer. Those and other hunters, reindeer herders, fishermen. They have a similar language, they live in yurts and tents, they even have the same capital: Khanty-Mansiysk. Come on, they’re not friends with each other. They are not related to each other.
Even the Mansi are divided into clans: MOS POR. The Anyamovs belong to the MOS family. They can only take a wife from the POR clan.
So, we are in a yurt. The right half is male. Low bunks are covered with reindeer skins. Our girls (that’s how they were "spoiled" by equality), went straight to the bunks in the front right corner. The owner stopped them with a firm hand and pointed to the left female half near the door. Pursing their lips offendedly, they sat down on a low bench. And we men lounged on warm skins and devoured pieces of fatty venison. And the girls were waiting for something to break away from their mistress. Meanwhile, the treasured flask with "fire water" appeared in the men’s corner. They drank sparingly, using a bottle cap.
The owner asked after each traffic jam: "Emas?"
You should have answered: - Saka emas!
Which meant: - Very good!
Here is our first "knowledge" of the Mansi language.
The yurt is heated by CHUVAL in the women's quarters. The chuval vaguely resembles a fireplace. Imagine a rifle barrel without a bolt. The trunk-pipe is made from vine twigs and coated with clay. Firewood is placed vertically in the expanded half-open part of the trunk. Warmth and light! A pot of food or tea is hung right there.
Meanwhile, in the men’s half, during the break between "emas" and "saka emas", there is a leisurely conversation. We write down the names of objects, localities, legends and songs in the Mansi language.
-Where will you go next? - To Chistop.
- To Chistopka? Ay, don't go! Ay, thin mountain!
The Mansi name of the mountain is Sisup. There is a legend: the top of the mountain was not flooded with water during the Great Flood. A dry site has been preserved here, where five Mansi families escaped. Among them was an infant. His crying could be heard at either end of the site. Therefore, the main peak was called NYAVRAM-LYUNSIM-SYAHL-ALA, which means: "the top of the mountain where the child cried". Top of the Sisup ridge (Russian) The name Chistop) resembles the back of a horse (SIS - back), and its highest peak was called LUV-SYAKVUR, which means "horse tit". This means that the Mansi tribes also knew the horse. They didn’t migrate to Europe on reindeer! And in the area of Chusovaya and Tagil, reindeer moss does not grow.
So, we comfortably settled down to sleep on reindeer skins in the yurt, and our offended girls, grabbing sleeping bags, went to the birch bark tent to live with a poor relative. Or maybe she’s having a hard time because of her first wife’s bitch. The Mansi have this law: if a brother dies, his elder or younger brother must take his wife. In the morning we continued our notes, then changed into Mansi clothes for the photo. From the steep bank of the Lyamya, the Mansi laughed and squealed on our skis. And we enjoyed mastering their skate skis.
- 4 -
From Lyamyapaul to Suevatpaul, Anyamov generously loaded the girls and backpacks onto two teams of reindeer, and the men (what bliss without backpacks!) ran after the sledges.
In Suevapaul, Peter’s brother invited him to spend the night in his yurt, but then a "riot on the ship" arose. The virgins flatly refused to go to the yurt: "We will not tolerate such humiliation anymore!" And we chuckle: - In the yurt "emas" and "saka emas"! But in our hearts we sympathized with them. Moreover, we have little alcohol left at EMAS. Geologists gave us shelter: they had a large tent with a stove. There were even extra sleeping bags. Give me a Chistopka!
Clear, frosty weather. In the east, far away on the horizon, rises the huge mountain range of the Chistopsky Range, stretching for 30 kilometers. It stands apart from the Main Uralsky.
Now begins the most difficult part of the hike. You won’t have to rely on settlements and huts. Hard. Frozen swamps, hills, "manes" with stunted forest. Small rivers gurgle under the snow.
The monotony and silence is suddenly exploded by the crackling of the wings of heavy birds. Crossing a swampy birch forest, we stepped on the burrows of a flock of orcas spending the night under the snow. Tolya Shumkov shoots in confusion from his small-caliber "fart gun" in the wake of the flying game. Where is it? Even though he is a first-class shooter, not every hunter can use a gun to take down a bird that suddenly rises up and shoots like a bullet through the forest. And then Slava steps on a hole in the snow. A gaping bird flutters right under the skis. Slava feverishly hits her with a ski pole and oh! Luck!! Grouse in the hand of a triumphant guy. I will not describe how many jokes and wishes were told to the embarrassed captain and his ill-fated rifle. For dinner we will have the soup we need!
After crossing the Lozva River, the forest becomes denser. Pine and spruce are interspersed with birch. A steep climb begins along the clearing. In some places you have to take off your skis and climb up icy rocks. And the sun disappears behind the mountain ridge. It is clear that today we will not have time to approach the foot of Chistop. Camel Mountain stands on the way. For some reason they called her the Dark One. Height 518 meters. At the top there are gloomy rocks, and even rare gnarled single cedars and crooked birches. The place is gloomy, there is a kind of oppressive silence. Heavy purple clouds swirl between the mountains. We choose a camp between two basalt blocks: if there is wind, there is still protection. As usual, we shovel the snow and lay a layer of cedar spruce branches under the tents. A fire burns brightly from dry cedars. We change ski boots to felt boots. An unfortunate mower is gurgling appetizingly in a bucket, someone is chopping frozen bread with an ax. Tired, exhausted from food, we crawl into the tents. But my soul is somehow restless, eerie. At night I had a dream: a bear fell on the tent and was strangling me. I try to scream, but I can’t scream. Nearby, my comrades are also groaning and tossing and turning. It turns out that at night thick, soft snow fell, covered the tent, the old hemp guys could not withstand the snow mass and burst. Somehow we get out from under the rubble, strengthen the tents, but our sleep is already restless.
In the morning we descend from our “camel” and along the valley of the Tosemya stream we begin the difficult climb to the Chistaya ridge. The spruce-pine forest gives way to a cedar belt, then a crooked birch forest appears. All. Beyond is a bare, clean mountainside. No wonder the Russians named the mountain Chistop, which means “pure”. The January day is short. The sun is slowly sliding behind the ridge. What to do? Going down into the cedar forest means losing height and time. And the top, it seems, is very close! And the team supports the captain:
- Let's storm!
1959 February: On the way to Chistop. Cold lunch. Anatoliy Shumkov, Faya Abramova, Mihail Vladimirov, and Sveta Schmetter
And storming the mountain is prohibited by all regulations and instructions at night. If the Routing commission finds out, it will disqualify the trek! We leave our skis and backpacks at the edge of the forest. We put woolen masks on our faces, ski poles in our hands and go! Under your feet there is firn snow, gravel, you can’t even see your footprint. The ascent is gradual, a steep slope, a sloping terrace, a steep slope again. The sun fell behind the mountain. And a pointed peak looms ahead. The Russians call it Ostraya Sopka, and the Mansi call it the Horse Tit.
Thick darkness and fog creeps through the valleys and gorges. The "evening star", Aurora, the planet Venus, burns brightly above the peak. This is our beacon.
The frost is well into the thirties. It's good, at least there's no wind. Finally, the last takeoff and we are at the top! The nighttime feeling is unique! The Main Ural Range stretches in the northwest. Against the backdrop of the black sky, 25 kilometers from us, the snowy dome of Mount Otorten is white. There at the top are our fellow countrymen - UPI students, Dyatlov's group.
We quickly find a stone tour and a jar with a note from Perm hikers in the wooden pyramid and leave ours. This is proof that we were at the top - needed for the report. We take our last look at the mountainous night country. But what is it? A signal flare soars above Otorten, cutting through the darkness of the night. There is no housing in that area. Are polytechnics celebrating their ascension? Well, they should have been there a few days ago! There is no time to think - the frost is pressing. We run down to the forest at random. It's good that there are no dangerous descents. But our traces are not visible. We ran up to the forest in complete darkness. Where can we find our backpacks and skis?
Left or right? We break into groups. Flashlights don't light up in this cold weather. Finally, in the distance, one group's matches sparkle. The backpacks have been found, we are saved! We descend in pitch darkness down into the cedar belt. There's firewood, there's life! But what does it mean to go down a steep slope in the dark? Horror! This must be experienced! As soon as you move away, there’s a break... Someone is again lying with his head in the snow. If only the skis don't break!
- 5 -
Finally, cedar. We crawl around, feeling every tree, we need to find a kindling. And the flashlights, damn it, don’t light up in the cold! But here's a cry: - Here is a dry tree!
The saw is ringing. A fire breaks out. Now, by the light of the fire, we prepare firewood, shovel the snow pit for the tents, break the spruce branches, and hang buckets of snow on the fire. Now you can remove frozen shoes from your socks, and socks from your feet using alcohol. Some have chilly fingers. The doctor has enough work. Thank God, there are no serious frostbites. And here dinner is ready! Everyone put on dry, warm felt boots and warmed up by the fire. The men look questioningly, first at the supply manager, then at the captain: - Will there be an Emas?
- Os emas orul! - please, you deserve it.
“Snowfall rustles quietly over the tundra, branches crackle on the fire,” the girls begin thoughtfully, looking at the fire.
“In these hours, when everyone is already asleep, what do I remember…” - male voices pick up: “Snow, snow, snow, snow, - along the banks of freezing rivers, snow, snow, snow...” .
That evening they sang about the dying fire, about the Ural region, about geologists, about climbers, Vizbor’s songs, and about openly criminal lyrics. In those years there were still few actual tourist songs. Everyone sang. It was as if such a difficult day had never happened.
Back to wine and smoking, cultural living
Hurry up, boss, let us go...
We decided to go down to the north, along the valley of the Choporya River, a tributary of the Ushma. “Oh, and we’ll ride along this river all the way to Lozva,” we dreamed, looking at the map, back in Sverdlovsk. Let's daydream! As soon as we descended into the stream canyon, we fell through the “fifth point” into loose snow. We had to dig a wide, deep ditch in the snow until we fell into the valley of the Ushma River. It has become easier here - the snow is denser. Suddenly gray dots flashed ahead.
-Dogs! - we were delighted. This means the hunter is nearby. We increased our speed. But, strange. The dogs suddenly disappeared. Something is getting dark on the steep bank. Oh, but this is an elk killed by wolves! The insides are still smoking.
With his last strength he tried to jump onto the steep bank from the gray predators, but the bank turned out to be too steep. All the snow around is drenched in blood and trampled by animals. We looked at the small captain with doubt, and our mood dropped. We moved on. Let them finish eating the elk, as long as the wolves don’t want human flesh for dessert. Having walked about five kilometers, Shumkov suddenly announced: "The elk was killed by wolves." The leg should have been cut off. Let's eat meat.
But someone sarcastically remarked: "You have a rifle, so go ahead, chop off a piece, and we’ll wait for you here."
But the captain looked at us sourly and moved on. It's time to look for a place to stay for the night. This time it was decided to keep watch at night, light a fire, and not doze off. Gray “dogs” evoke a sad mood.
The morning turned out to be frosty. When you go skiing with a heavy backpack, there is enough warmth. Ushma flows into Lozva. This river originates in Otorten, has a fast current, but the snow on the river is denser. Rocks stick out along the banks, now to the left, now to the right. But here the gorge begins. Here and there the gullies are smoking. It’s dangerous to walk and you won’t be able to get out onto the shore! They untied the ropes from the tents, tied the captain and let him check the strength of the jumpers.
It’s a complete gamble - will hemp ropes withstand such a current if a person falls through the ice? Here he is walking between the ice holes, hitting his ski poles first left and then right - testing the strength of the ice. Everyone held their breath. Passed! Next. Such is the lot of the group leader, such is the “privilege” - where it is dangerous, to go first.
But the “emergency” still happened. Sveta Schmetter fell through the ice with one foot. While they were pulling her out and changing her shoes into a dry sock, she still managed to get frostbite on her foot. There is nowhere to make a fire - rocks on the left and right. And lights loom ahead - housing is close! With the last of our strength we wander towards the first barracks. Everything is covered in frost, icicles under the nose. They heard us, people ran out, took off our skis and backpacks, and led us into a hot heated barracks.
It turns out that it’s 38 degrees outside! We barely pull off our frozen helmets; our faces, thank God, are not frostbitten. But the socks had to be torn off from the shoes with hot water. The first degree is chilliness of the toes in almost everyone. The worst thing for Sveta is frostbite on her right foot. Then she even received treatment in Sverdlovsk, in a hospital.
We found ourselves in a lumberjack village. Here live deconvoyed prisoners (zeks), those who are prohibited from living in ordinary towns and cities after their "prison". We didn’t know this, we sang and danced with them. They were all tipsy in the barracks, they treated us, but we were drunk from fatigue and from the heat. Still, three cold nights in a row made it known. They sang with them criminal songs about "Murka", about "Friar Solovyov", who recruited them to Sayan, and they asked “for wine and smoking, a cultural life”, and other songs from the criminal repertoire. They don’t know that we sing, but we sing along with them as best we can. Behave at ease.
In the morning, the head of the forest site left on horseback and sleigh for Ivdel. He took Sveta Schmetter, our backpacks and skis with him. And he got us a job on a timber truck, riding on logs, and thought only about how not to freeze, so as not to crush the logs. But nothing! We arrived alive in Ivdel. Ivdel is the northernmost city in our region. The city is young, it emerged as a center of the forestry and woodworking industries.
During the war, individual forest plots and all kinds of migrating people became a city. We didn’t like the city, but that’s not the main thing. The main thing is that the railway is suitable here. Slava Angry and Tolya Burakov were sent to the store. But for some reason they haven’t been around for a long time! But then they appear, accompanied by a policeman. In the store they were arrested at once: in torn padded jackets, dirty balaclavas, overgrown with vulgar stubble, smoked, they really looked like escaped prisoners. There were no documents with them. We had to prove that they were from our team. The train ticks off the kilometers. Home! Home!! Home!!!
Weeks, days and nights will go back,
But no business, no long years,
About the smoke of fires, the severity of transitions
They will never make us forget.
So let us remember the snow rubble,
Frozen forest and ski track in the snow:
When with you, reliable friend,
We walked shoulder to shoulder into the taiga.
- 6 -
On the train, already approaching Nizhny Tagil, we heard the first alarming news: a group of hikers - polytechnicians from Otorten - had not returned, although the deadline had already passed. They left a week before us. Arriving in Sverdlovsk, we immediately ran to the city tourist club, where a headquarters for searching for a group had already been created. At the same time, we were only one day's march away from them. But we didn’t see anything suspicious except a signal flare. We were told that a Mansi hunter discovered a tent half-covered with snow on Mount Kholat Syakhl (Mountain of the Dead), in front of the main peak of Otorten. The tent slope is cut with a knife. There are unfinished boots and warm clothes in the tent, but there is no one! A search group was immediately created, led by an experienced master of sports, Evgeniy Maslennikov. In Nizhny Tagil it was replenished by the group of Slava Karelin, who was returning from Denezhkin Stone. Our fellow countryman, Volodya Skutin, a third-year student at the Faculty of Geography, was also in the group. A military prosecutor and a comrade from the KGB boarded their helicopter.
The mountain, which the Mansi call Kholat Syakhl (Mountain of the Dead), was notorious. Here, for some unknown reason, nine Mansi Hunters died. A helicopter crashed on this mountain, killing nine people. There were also nine polytechnic students. Thirty years later, our group from Artemovsky passed through Otorten, when we went to the upper reaches of the Pechora River, to Man-Pupy-Hep. The peak is nothing special.
The search has begun. Patrushev's helicopter spotted two corpses near the edge of the forest. They started digging. A terrible picture emerged. The two dead lay near a poorly lit fire, stripped down to their underwear. 300 meters from them they dug up Igor Dyatlov, he crawled towards the tent and died, looking sadly in its direction. There were no injuries on the body. Another corpse was found about 150 meters away. An autopsy later revealed a head fracture without any damage to the skin. The body of Zina Kolmogorova was found closest to the tent. As Slava Karelin says, during the autopsy she had an unusually large heart. She did not crawl to the tent only about a hundred meters. If she had succeeded, maybe she would have helped others. The mystery is presented by three corpses to the side of the fire, they died from terrible injuries, broken ribs, pierced heads, hemorrhages. But how could internal damage occur without affecting the skin? The rest of the dead guys were dug up in the spring, when the snow began to melt.
What happened? There are several versions, but which one is indisputable? All participants in the search, the helicopter pilot and the doctors signed a non-disclosure agreement and not to discuss everything that happened. In panic horror, cutting the tent with a knife, the hikers rushed to run down the slope. Not to the trail where they left extra clothes and food in the forest, having made a warehouse in the forest, but wherever they looked. It’s more likely that their eyes weren’t even looking. We managed to extract from Slava Karelin, despite the subscription: - I am deeply convinced that they fled blind and with burnt faces.
They did not have time to climb to the top of the mountain before dark and decided to pitch a tent on an open slope. We had dinner, undressed and took off our shoes, and got ready for bed.
The declassified criminal report preserved the conclusion that neither the installation of the tent nor the gentle 15-18 degree slope itself posed a threat. And then something terrible happened! Some were barefoot (changed their shoes), some were wearing socks, some were wearing only shoes, they ran downstairs in panic. The chain of traces diverged and then converged again. No one approached the tent, there were no signs of a struggle or an avalanche. We immediately rejected the official version that they immediately tried to wedge in: it was carried away by an avalanche or the Mansi staged a bloodbath. What kind of avalanche could there be? What Mansi, these friendly, good-nature people...
Most likely, it was a test of a new secret weapon. But why wasn’t the area closed then? Vasya Korolev, the chairman of the Sverdlovsk Routing commission, who approved and released the group, was advised by his friends to leave the city as soon as possible. Otherwise you will be a switch-man, who should be responsible for the emergency!
The test of some kind of secret weapon is also supported by the fact: Evgenиy Maslennikov, together with former military prosecutor L.N. Lukin, when they were looking for the remaining corpses in May, drew attention to the fact that some young spruce trees in the area were burned some strong directed beam of energy acting selectively. But where did Kolya Brugnon get the dent in his skull, 9 centimeters deep? A radioactive version cannot be ruled out, Lukin’s Geiger counter was off the charts! Again, in that area, Maslennikov found a 30-centimeter ring from a rocket.
Soon, in the area of the Mountain of the Dead, a pilot died - a helicopter pilot who was looking for corpses, photographer Yuri Yarovoy, who was filming everything, died in a car accident. A security officer who was flying to the scene of the tragedy shot himself in a bathhouse. In February 1961, another group of hikers from Leningrad died in the same area under strange circumstances. And again the same incomprehensible signs of fear: cut tents, abandoned things. This time all 9 corpses lie neatly around the tents and.
We, hikers, celebrated New Year 1960 in the house of Colonel Kupriyanov, the father of our fellow student Rita Kupriyanova. The conversation involuntarily turned again to the dead polytechnic students. Slava Karelin, a participant in the search, was also here. The colonel told us in confidence: when all the searchers left the scene of the tragedy, the soldiers of his regiment arrived there. In the evening, the sergeant reports on the radio:
- I see a fireball rolling down the mountain. It is divided into several balls. All this is coming at us. What to do?
- Act according to the situation.
- I make a decision: we stay in the tent. They remained alive. But - a nervous shock.
The hike is over. The skis have been put into storage. There are other, more difficult hikes ahead of us. Our team somehow fell apart on its own. Fourth year after graduation, we went in different directions. No one else went hiking with us, there is no connection with them. We heard that Slava Serdityh works somewhere in the Far East as a research assistant in a local history museum. We met Zhora in Kamchatka seven years later. Only Shumkov and I also went to Altai, twice to the Tien Shan. And then every year we met with our teams at the All-Union Tourist Meeting "Europe - Asia". He worked in Karpinsk all his life, organized the Taiga Hiking Club, and became a master of sports in tourism. But I am sure that none of us "ten" forgot this trip.
But there is no more reliable comrade in the world,
With this you will go to any wilderness and distance,
With whom, together, here, in the wilderness of the taiga
Divided the frost-covered cracker.