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Dyatlov Pass Incident Tent and Footprints

Dyatlov Pass Incident

Dyatlov Pass Incident tent is one of the most interesting pieces of evidence found on the slope of the mountain. Along with the footprints of tourists it tells a dramatic story of that night.

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Dyatlov Pass Incident Tent

Location and presence of items in the tent (almost all the shoes, all outerwear, personal belongings and diaries) testified that the tent was left suddenly at the same time by all the tourists, and, as stated in the subsequent forensic examination, the leeward side of the tent, where tourists laid their heads, it was cut from the inside in two places at sites that provide free personal exit through these incisions.

Below tent for up to 500 meters traces were discovered of people walking in the snow from the tent to the valley and the forest. The tracks are well preserved and indicate presence of 8-9 pairs. Inspection should be shown that some of them were almost bare foot (for example, in one footprint had socks), while others were left by typical "valenki" (traditional Russian footwear), feet in soft socks, and so on. The tracks were located close to one another, converged and diverged from one another several times. Tracks disappeared close to the forest border - covered by a snow.

Presence of other people was not  detected, neither were found sights of a fight."

- Decision to dismiss a criminal case. Criminal Investigation, pages 385-386)



Dyatlov Group Tent 

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The nature and form of these lesions suggests that they were formed from the contact with the blade of a weapon (knife) on the inside surface of the fabric of the tent.

- Act of the criminal investigation # 199 (Criminal case, vol.1, pages 303-304)

Dyatlov pass tent

Dyatlov Tent at the time of its discovery


Another interesting part of the Dyatlov Pass mystery is the tent of the Dyatlov Group. It is of unusual construction. Dyatlov tent was actually made of two regular tents. These two pieces were sawn together to make a bigger one. Those who had to deal with the old Soviet tents can attest that they are heavy. Two tents made the job even harder. But presence of a single stove made sense to create a single home for the tourists. Staying warm in Siberia is tricky and required a lot of ingenuity and compromise. Dyatlov group carried their tent by taking turns.


The first thing that the rescue party discovered on Kholat Syakhl mountain was a tourist tent with the stove that the Dyatlov made himself. For reasons that are were never answered, the sides of the tent were cut presumably by the tourists. Judging by the number of cuts they were made from inside. It is hard to explain why they chose this strange exit for leaving the tent completely ignoring the entrance. Many of the members were not fully clothed then this happened. Yet, warm clothes, shoes, sweaters, knives and anything that could keep them warm and help survive in Siberian wilderness were abandoned. In fact most of the footwear and clothes were stacked in the middle and edges of the tent. Additionally Boris Slobcov discovered a flash light of Chinese production on the roof of the tent. It laid on a snow cover 5-10 cm in thickness and had no snow on top. He turned on the flashlight. It was in working condition.


Dyatlov Group Tent 

Official protocol report on the Tent from the Dyatlov group

Tent site is located on the North- eastern slope of mountain 1079 (Kholat Syakhl official term) meters at the mouth of river Auspiya. Tent site is located 300 meters from the top of the mountain 1079 with a slope of 30 °. Test site consists of a pad, leveled by snow, the bottom of which are contains 8 pairs of skis (for tent support and insulation). Tent is stretched on poles and fixed with ropes. On the bottom of the tent 9 backpacks were discovered with various personal items, jackets, rain coats, 9 pairs of shoes. There were also found men's pants, and three pairs of boots, warm fur coats, socks, hat, ski caps, utensils, buckets, stove, ax, saw, blankets, food: biscuits in two bags, condensed milk, sugar, concentrates, notebooks, itinerary and many other small items and documents, camera and accessories to a camera.


The nature and form of all (...) lesions suggest that they were formed by contact with the canvas inside of the tent with the blade of some weapon (presumably a knife).


Dyatlov Group Tent A. The entrance to the Dyatlov Group Tent. Most of footwear that the tourists wore was stored here. Hikers had two pairs of boots. For the outside they wore valenki, traditional Russian boots specifically made for the cold weather. Additionally there were indoor tent boots that the hikers wore while in the tent. Valenki were left to dry out during the night. In total 7 felt boots or valenki and 6 pairs of boots.

B. To the right of the main entrance search and rescue team discovered a pile of house hold utensils used by hikers. This included various cooking pots, two large axes, 2 buckets and many other items. A flask with alcohol was also found. It was not used and it was full. Search and rescue participants drank for the health of the Dyatlov group members the same day they discovered the tent. There was still hope the guys and girls are still alive.

C. Another pair of tent boots were found in the center of the tent.

D. The farthest part of the tent was a place for storage of food, cereal, sugar, cans and probably wood. There is minor issue with the wood for the stove. Some claim that there was wood in the tent, other claimed that small branches were present in the stove at the time of the discovered, while other witnesses claim there was no wood in the tent or in the stove. Either way it is not that important.


Students retrieved three photo cameras from the tent, group diary, some alcohol and few minor things. They hurried down the mountain to the campsite that was already established at the base of the mountain. Several mansi natives joined the group. Additionally Egor Semenovich Nevolin, a radioman, joined the search party. At 6pm they radioed back about their discovery on the last campsite of the Dyatlov group. UPI informed them that a large search group with will be delivered by a helicopter to their location. They would also deliver two large military tents for better comfort and security. A detective would join the search and rescue effort with Colonel Ortyukov as well.

Radiogam sent by Maslenikov, head of the Search team on March 2, 1959
The main mystery of the tragedy is the hasty retreat of the whole group of tourists. The only thing, besides an ice ax found outside the tents, was a Chinese flashlight on its roof. It confirms the probability of a clothed man outside, who gave some order for everyone to abandon the tent. "

- Radiographs (page 167)
Zolotarev was well dressed and he probably was outside the tent when he gave the order to abandon the tent and make a run for it.

While the tent contained all the items of the Dyatlov group we should point out several strange items that were found in or around the tent.

  • One of the bamboo sticks used for skiing was broken. In fact it was intentially cut and then broken. Why it was done still escapes logic.

  • There were 10 pairs of skis. We have several testimonies from the group about presence of an extra pair. Where did this extra pair and what happened to it, we don't know. We don't see a spare in any of the pictures that the Dyatlov Pass group did.


Dyatlov Pass Incident Footprints

Igor Dyatlov Group Incident  Igor Dyatlov Group Incident  Igor Dyatlov Group Incident 

At 50-60 [metres] below the tent on one of its sides, I found traces of eight pairs of people that are carefully examined, but they were deformed due to winds and temperature fluctuations. Ninth track could not be established me, and it was not. Footprints wre photographed by me. They pointed down the slope from a tent. Footprints showed me that people walked at a normal pace down the mountain. Footprints were visible only for the 50-meter stretch, beyond that they disappeared, as lower elevation of the mountain, had more snow "

- Examination of
witnesses Tempalova VI (Criminal Investigation page 312)


Footprints are an interesting feature in the Dyatlov Pass Incident. However, no one expected to find the tourists dead so, unfortunately, there was no attempt to preserve or record the footprints of people around the Dyatlov Pass. To this day there has been a discussion of exactly how many people were in this pass on that fateful day. Judging by the words of the people involved in the search and who took the pictures, there were definitely 8- 9 tracks of footprints left by tourists who wore almost no footwear. Their feet pressed the snow and this left a characteristic "columns" of pressed snow with a footprint on top.


Judging by their outline and distance between steps members of the group walked in a single file with a tall men walking in the back. His footprints partially covered footprints of his friends who walked in front of him. Overall the path gave an impression of organized and uneventful descent down the slope of the mountain. Several trails would deviate from the general direction, but then rejoin the group. Other footprints were also discovered and photographed. These photos are not professional part of the planned investigation. We can't tell the exact length of these marks and we can't see the close up. They were quickly covered with the footprints of other people. We can't judge rescuers for being too sloppy. They are not detectives and they certainly didn't expect that their search party will find tourists dead.


However it is only one version of events. Yury Yudin who was an original member of the Dyatlov Group, had to cancel his journey due to health reasons. He later participated in the search party that was investigating the site of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. He is not a professional in the area of criminal justice, but his subjective opinion should be noted anyway for the sake of full picture. In his interview he noted.


When we found an empty, abandoned tent, Captain Chernyshev, who was an experienced tracker and a taiga man (expression similar to a "mountain man" in American culture) and deputy head of the search party, noted that some of the footprints left by the boots had a heel. This could indicate a army boots. I noted this fact as well as some other other participants of the search. As it is known, the track - is not just a piece of evidence. For the experienced criminalist it is the key to solving the crime. However, this "key" Ivanov did not use.


Another member of the Dyatlov Pass Search team in his 2013 interview claimed that he saw boots with heels along the entire length of footprints. He denied a possibility that these footprints could be left by someone from the search group as they all tried to avoid stepping on these foot prints.