In February 1959, a group of nine hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died in a mysterious fashion on the eastern side of an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident - unsettling and unexplained causes of death, a strange final photograph by one of the hikers and signs of radioactivity - have led to decades of speculation over what really happened. This gripping work of literary nonfiction delves into the mystery through unprecedented access to the hikers' own journals and photographs (many translated and reproduced in the book); unseen government records; and dozens of interviews, including with the only surviving hiker; and the author's retracing the hikers' fateful journey.
"The Dyatlov Pass incident is virtually unknown outside Russia, but in that country, it's been a much-discussed mystery for decades. In 1959, nine Russian university students disappeared on a hiking expedition in the Ural Mountains. A rescue team found their bodies weeks later, nearly a mile from their campsite, partially clothed, shoeless, three of them having died from injuries that indicated a physical confrontation. What happened here? There have been a lot of theories, ranging from misadventure to government conspiracy to freak weather to extraterrestrials, but no one has managed to get to the truth. Drawing on interviews with people who knew the hikers (and with the lone survivor of the expedition, who'd had to turn back due to illness), Russian case documents, and the hikers' own diaries, Eichar, an American documentarian, re-creates the ill-fated expedition and the investigation that followed. The author's explanation of what happened on Dead Mountain is necessarily speculative, but it has the advantage of answering most of the long-standing questions while being intuitively plausible. A gripping book, at least as dramaticas Krakauer's Into Thin Air (1997). "-Booklist
Donnie Eichar is a critically acclaimed TV and film writer, director, and producer.