In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the mountain climbing incident―unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes―have led to decades of speculation over the true stories and what really happened.
Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident is a gripping work of literary nonfiction that delves into the untold story of Dead Mountain through unprecedented access to the hikers’ own journals and photographs, rarely seen government records, dozens of interviews, and the author’s retracing of the hikers’ fateful journey in the Russian winter.
I first heard of the Dyatlov Pass incident through the Astonishing Legends podcast and it’s a case that’s fascinated me ever since. Despite my interest in it, it’s taken me a long time to get around to reading Dead Mountain, but after reading a fantastic review by a fellow blogger, I knew the time had come for me to read it.
There are numerous theories surrounding the deaths of these nine young hikers in 1959, ones that have some grounding in possibility and others that are completely and utterly ludicrous. When discussing these theories, though, people very often get so wrapped up in the what and the how of the case that they forget the who. Regardless of what truly happened on that fateful February night, the fact of the matter is that nine young people tragically lost their lives and this is something that Donnie Eichar doesn’t allow his readers to forget. Amid all the theorising and research, Eichar discusses the hikers at great length. Igor Dyatlov, Yuri Doroshenko, Lyudmila Dubinina, Alexander Kolevatov, Zinaida Kolmogorova, Yuri Krivonischenko, Rustem Slobodin, Nikolay Thibault-Brignoles and Alexander Zolotaryov were young people with their whole lives ahead of them. They had likes and dislikes, hobbies and aspirations, and this shouldn’t be forgotten when discussing the incident that brought about their untimely demises. The respect that Eichar has for the hikers is evident and Dead Mountain serves not just as an investigation into their mysterious deaths, but as a touching tribute to them as well.
Dead Mountain is fascinating and heartbreaking in equal measure and is a must read for anyone interesting in the Dyatlov Pass incident.
Want to read Dead Mountain? You can order your copy through Hive or through your local bookstore.
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