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Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident Kindle Edition
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A New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller — What happened that night on Dead Mountain?
The mystery of Dead Mountain: 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 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 what really happened.
As gripping and bizarre as Hunt for the Skin Walker: This New York Times bestseller, Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, is a gripping work of literary nonfiction that delves into the mystery 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.
You'll love this real-life tale: Dead Mountain is a fascinating portrait of young adventurers in the Soviet era, and a skillful interweaving of the hikers' narrative, the investigators' efforts, and the author's investigations. Here for the first time is the real story of what happened that night on Dead Mountain.
From Publishers Weekly
-Mysterious Universe podcast
"They say the best stories, the most compelling ones, are the ones based in truth that is so strange that you think it must be fiction. . . . Eichar has engaged in a Sherlock Holmes-style process of elimination investigation to what could have happened to the hikers. . . . [A] true life mystery, finally solved."
-National Geographic Weekend
A Junior Library Guild Selection
"Dead Mountain reads like a mystery, with flashback chapters that lead up to the last known details of the ill-fated adventure. Author Eichar is a documentary filmmaker who fell into the 50-year-old mystery. Determined to unravel the clues, he takes a winter hike into the same mountains. His research leads him to sort through the classic explanations?avalanche, attack by the local Mansi people, high winds, armed men, weapons testing, and even aliens. Punctuated with primary source documents, readers will be riveted to the final conclusion of the true story of the Dyatlov Pass incident."
School Library Journal
"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 dramatic as Krakauer's Into Thin Air (1997). "
"The mystery of the bizarre deaths of elite Russian hikers in a 1959 tragedy on a deadly Ural mountain is the subject of Eichar's extensive investigation. Eichar, a film director and producer, tries to make sense of the puzzling tale of the dead students from Ural Polytechnic University; he sets off to interview the hikers' relatives, investigators, and even a lone survivor. Following the search party's retrievals of the bodies, the questions deepen when the victims are discovered, insufficiently dressed for the frigid weather, shoeless, with violent injuries, including a horrible skull fracture, a leg torn away, and a tongue ripped out. With expert analysis of the remaining evidence, Eichar tries to answer why the hikers, seven men and two women, would go out into the bitter cold without warm clothing to meet certain death; curious, too, is that the contents of the tent were intact. Possible causes for the panic, according to Eichar and officials, are: an avalanche; mysterious armed men; even a fatal tiff by the males over the women. As the elements of this complicated tangle are compiled, the final wrap-up of the mountain tragedy is overwhelming, befitting a case defying explanation."
"Dead Mountain piques your curiosity from start to finish as the details of these nine young and vibrant hikers unfold to explain their brave fight for survival in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. "
A "Best of L.A." pick- Los Angeles Magazine
"An American documentary filmmaker drops into the well of one of Soviet Russia's greatest mysteries. . . . A sad tale of tragedy and investigatory enigmas from the wilds of Soviet Union."
"Readers will appreciate the drama and poignancy of Eichar's solid depiction of this truly eerie and enduring mystery."
-Library Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B00CUSQOA0
- Publisher : Chronicle Books LLC; Reprint edition (October 22, 2013)
- Publication date : October 22, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 10495 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 290 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1452140030
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #52,267 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2019
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OVERALL: The book does a nice job humanizing the members of the group, however chapters are split between the Dyatlov group's trip, and the author's own trip back to Russia to research it. The author is very much the "star" of the narrative, and 50% of the book is the author's own journey in Russia, so be warned if that's not your thing!
I didn't mind this at first... and found the first 60-70% of the book fairly well done (in the way a Reader’s Digest article about something fascinating can suck you in), but the author finishes his journey at the site of the tent...and that's about all the insight you are given into his personal experience. Did Eichar sleep on the mountain? No. Did he explore the location of the cedar tree and the ravine? We are left to assume no. Did he partake in any kind of scientific analysis or measurements of the area? Nope. So even the "personal narrative" aspect is unresolved. Not to mention Eichar rode a snowmobile to/from the location...not exactly similar to what the hikers experienced.
THE THEORY (spoiler alert!...not that it matters, really): The book simply ends with Eichar putting forth his own theory about the cause of the hikers' demise: infrasound. And it comes across as so rushed and with such scant supporting evidence, you are left unconvinced and disappointed. We should believe this because a scientist in Colorado noticed that Kholat Syakhl has a dome-shape?
The author does not provide even a single real-life instance in which similar mountain weather conditions have caused human beings to behave in this manner (i.e. being driven so "insane" by a vortex/infrasound they would cut through/abandon a tent, and walk a mile away from it barefoot in the snow), or ANY other real-life cases of a vortex + infrasound occurring in winter mountains. There is not a single interview with any individual who has first-hand experienced this phenomenon. There are also no interviews with area hikers to inquire if such a phenomenon has ever been experienced by any other local camping on Kholat Syakhl.
THE LACK OF EVIDENCE:
-no map or diagram of the area of the tent, the cedar tree, ravine, and positions of the bodies
-no in-depth discussion, pictures, or diagrams of the footprints found in the snow (yet Eichar insists in his theory the hikers were split up into 3 groups and separated BEFORE reaching the tree line. What supports this? A discussion of the footprints, how they were found, logged, and photographed by the search team would have been critical.)
-no autopsy photographs, diagrams, or comprehensive description of the injuries found on each hiker. I find this omission the most egregious. Eichar asks us the accept his version of events, without describing how it aligns with the specific injuries to each hiker (these photos are readily available online, so why the laziness in omitting a discussion of them?)
-no photographs, detailed discussion, or first-hand accounts by search party members of the "ravine." What did it look like? Why does Eichar automatically assume that 3 of the hikers fell into the ravine when they had limited bruising/soft tissue damage? He presents no specific evidence yet states Kolya was being carried?
-no mention or discussion of the "ice cave" made by the hikers and found at the ravine, in which wood had been gathered for a fire that had never been lit?
SUMMARY: I began by thinking this was a fairly well researched book, and certainly Eichar has put in a some time to interview surviving family members as well as the expedition's "sole survivor," but make no mistake, this is a humanistic (essentially amateurish) account of this fascinating incident, and not a scholarly or scientific one.
The book has no citations and no bibliography, and Eichar's quick summary at the end of what he thinks happened reads like lazy armchair detective work.
This amazing story deserves a much better book.
At the height of the Cold War and Soviet Union power, ten students of the Ural Polytechnic Institute Hiking Club took off on an expedition to Otorten Mountain in the northern Urals. All were experienced winter hikers and mountaineers, especially their leader, Igor Dyatlov. When they failed to return after three weeks, a search was launched. The initial search party found their empty tent and no sign of the hikers. All indications were that the tent had been abandoned in panic. Then, after some weeks of searching, the bodies were found.
"Their bodies were eventually found roughly a mile away from their campsite, in separate locations, half-dressed in subzero temperatures. Some were found facedown in the snow; others in fetal position; and some in a ravine clutching one another. Nearly all were without their shoes." (p 23)
One of their group, Yuri Yudin, had turned back, well before the tragedy occurred, due to a bout of pain from his chronic rheumatism, making him the only survivor.
So what could have happened to drive these young people out into a dark night of howling winds in below-zero temperatures? That’s the mystery that has prompted horror stories about the incident and that drives the narrative of Dead Mountain.
I have to admit that the mystery as outlined in the book blurbs grabbed my imagination. I had never heard of the incident and so wanted to know what it was all about, and why it was little known in the West. The book’s author, Donnie Eichar, is a director and producer of film work for MTV. He also became enamored with the story and determined to resolve the mystery. His research led him to literally retrace the hikers’ steps into the Urals in winter. He was the first American to do so.
Mr. Eichar’s prose is well-written and keeps up the tension of the mystery as he takes us with him on his investigation. The narrative alternates between his research and the story of the hikers as recorded in their group diary and photographs. These photographs are readily found on the Internet and I referred to them often as I read Dead Mountain. Many of them are included in the book.
Through the diary and photos the hikers are revealed as smart, well-adjusted young people with a love for life and the outdoors. Their last hike was to earn them a certification that would allow them to teach mountain hiking. So they knew what they were doing. There was one 37 year-old among the group, but the rest were all under 24. They were interested in two-way radios (the geek equivalent of personal computers for the time), hard science (they were engineering and physics majors), and the possibilities for love and romance (especially the two young women). The photos show a lot of college-student clowning and the diary indicates their excitement for their adventure. Accounts from the people that encountered them along their way are all positive as to their demeanor and attitudes.
Tension builds as Mr. Eichar recounts the groups’ final expedition. He tells us enough of the hikers’ personal lives that we get to know them as individuals. We feel their youthful friendships, hopes, and concerns. We struggle with them as they work out the logistics of their trip, and feel the pathos in Yuri’s early parting with them, expecting to reunite in a week’s time.
Tension also builds in the account of Mr. Eichar’s own journey to retrace the hikers’ steps and so gain clues as to what happened to them. He has to deal with a language barrier and his own journey logistics. Being from Florida, he has little experience of mountains and none of sub-zero cold. On top of all this, he makes a search for the lone surviving member of the Dyatlov group, Yuri Yudin.
I found Dead Mountain to be engrossing and hard to put down. Mr. Eichar keeps his prose moving, interesting, and relevant. Internet photos enhance the book, but I found the autopsy photos disturbing. The driving force of the book, however, is the mystery: what happened to hikers? UFOs? Yeti? Bandits? All have been proposed as solutions. After examining all the evidence he could gather, Mr. Eichar comes up with his own idea about what happened.
The last chapter of Dead Mountain is Mr. Eichar’s reconstruction of the events of the hikers’ last night. The scenario he describes is, in my opinion, probably very close to the truth.
I think Dead Mountain is a good exercise in how to approach and to think about a stubborn mystery, especially one with paranormal overtones. It indicates the kind of open-minded work required to get to the bottom of things (whether you think Mr. Eichar did or not). In the end, it is a reminder of the tragedies in this world, and of nine promising young people who were taken out of it much too early.
Top reviews from other countries
But what exactly caused them to leave the safety of their tent? Over the decades numerous theories have been suggested, ranging from the plausible — an avalanche, military weapons testing, an attack by armed men — to the downright unbelievable — aliens, yetis, the supernatural, orbs in the sky. In Dead Mountain American author Donnie Eichar travels to Russia to retrace the hikers' journey and put forward his own theory.
I first heard about the Dyatlov Pass Incident through publicity surrounding this book. The story was fascinating and I wanted to know more. Eichar's narrative is compelling and insightful. Backed by scientific evidence, he puts forward a believable and what I consider most likely explanation.
The book contains poignant photographs taken by the hikers during their trip and of the search to locate and recover their bodies in the aftermath. Eichar interviews Yuri Yudin, the hiker who turned back due to ill health. It was a decision that ultimately saved his life.
I thought Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident was a carefully researched, empathetic, gripping read.
Having happened in Russia, there was not much information easily accessible around the time of the incident but, in modern times such things are far easier to delve into. Donny Eichar, the author of this book, essentially gave up most everything in his life at the time (including being away from his wife and new born child) to go to Russia and search for answers, re-creating the Dyatlov hikers' journey as best he could along the way.
The incident itself happened in the fifties so its easy to view it as a case study with that sense of detachment that you can apply when things of such a tragic nature happen to other people with no bearing on your life. In Dead Mountain, Donny does an excellent job of robbing you of that feeling of disassociation. Throughout the book you see pictures that were taken by the hikers and you read their diary entries leading up to that fateful February night.
In short, the author does a wonderful job of making these kids, along with their hopes, desires and questions about life, a life that, unknown to them, they would never get to experience, feel so very real and close to home. The very first page before diving into the book does an excellent job of that with its quote from the sole survivor, Yuri Yudin, who was forced to turn back early due to medical concerns. The quote reads: "If I could ask God just one question it would be what really happened to my friends that night?" This quote comes directly after a full-page display of the hikers' pictures and really helps you feel the overwhelming sadness Yuri must have felt.
There are, naturally, as many theories about what happened to the hikers as there are people to give such theories. Some of the more famous include the abominable snowman, abduction and secret weapons tests by the Russian army (this due to the radiation particles found on their clothes), alien abduction/sightings of space craft etc ... The only thing that is certain is that something terrified those nine kids to such an extent that they felt running into certain death was far preferable than staying to face it.
Through his modern day recreation of the historical events, Donny Eichar does his best to explore the most likely reasons and debunk/prove them as best as he can. He does this with the aid of people who were closely involved with the case at the time.
Everything that an enthusiast of the Dyatlov Pass Incident could want is in this book. It features as much as is humanly possible of the hikers leading up to their final night, aspects of the case including public outcry after the handling of the events and, in the final chapter after he made his conclusion as to what really happened, the author writes a five or six page recreation of how he views the hikers' final night to have unfolded. From the moment they took off their boots until the very last breath was drawn.
All in all, Dead Mountain has turned an exciting spectacle into a mystery steeped in sadness that has the potential to touch anyone who reads it. You can't help but feel a pang of sadness when you read a line in the final diary entry along the lines of 'I wonder what tomorrow will bring for us' knowing full well that those poor kids had seen their last sunset. You also can't help but feel for Yuri Yudin and the survivor's guilt he must have had to endure until his eventual death some sixty years later.
Dead Mountain is an essential read for anyone with even the slightest interest in the Dyatlov Pass Incident or, indeed, in the unexplained. Can't recommend it highly enough.
He passes the fatal injuries sustained by three of the Dyatlov party as being due to a “tumble” down the “ravine” in which they were found, and which he alleges to have been 24 feet deep. This is a HUGE mistake. The ravine was only NINE feet deep, and not really a ravine at all - more of a dip in the land. Very hard to see how three fit young people could sustain fatal injuries by “tumbling” into this. Moreover he ignores the fact the pathologists ruled out this type of fall as a possible cause of their injuries.
For this reason his book remains just another partial and incomplete theory.