Frequently Asked Questions

Is Kholat Syakhl considered haunted or cursed?

The answer to this is pretty straightforward: NO. Kholat Syakhl translates literally to “Mountain of the Dead.” This mountain was so named because it is barren and not much grows there, thus making hunting there pretty fruitless. The Mansi named this mountain Kholat Syakhl to warn other hunters that they won’t have much luck if they try to hunt there. There is absolutely nothing sacred or cursed about this mountain.

There is a rumor that 9 Mansi hunters died there during the flood of biblical times. This is most likely just a rumor started by people trying to make a mysterious occurrence even more mysterious. Mansi deny any knowledge of this legend; it probably didn’t come into existence until after the Dyatlov group’s untimely demise in 1959. There are even more rumors that in the early 1960s, several planes crashed in the area, resulting in the deaths of 9 people. I have done extensive research trying to follow this lead and I have not found anything backing these claims. If anyone comes across something, please send it my way, but after ages of searching I have come up with absolutely nothing. Mostly people just use this to back their claim that the mountain is cursed and that it always targets groups of 9.

The idea that the number 9 is significant has been a big one. People point out that the group was supposed to be 11, and then 10, but strange circumstances wheedled it down to 9. People claim that nothing would have befallen the group if their number had been any but 9. Again, this is completely illogical. Expeditions have been held by groups of 9 following the exact same route as the Dyatlov group, and nothing out of the ordinary happened to them even though their number was 9. It’s superstition and that’s it.

Equally as superstitious is the name of Mount Otorten, which was the ultimate goal of Dyatlov’s group. The Mansi name for this mountain means “Do Not Go There.” Again this name was not because of any particular religious beliefs. The mountain was named thus for its lack of vegetation and hunting.

Were Igor Dyatlov and Zina Komolgorova dating?

As far as any official record goes: no, they were not.

The rumor that Dyatlov and Komolgorova were romantically involved has been around for a very long time and it is such that many people accept it as cold, hard fact. But the fact of the matter is that nothing has ever been proven.

I think this idea came about from the rumor – the false rumor – that Dyatlov was carrying a photograph of Kolmogorova when he died. This rumor probably came about because he was using a photograph of her as a bookmark, which is true.

When Yuri Yudin was going through the belongings of his deceased comrades, he was responsible for sorting the items according to who they belonged to. He came across a book belonging to Dyatlov, and he was surprised to find a photograph of Kolmogorova within the pages. He commented that, if the two were romantically involved, it was a surprise to him.

The presence of the photograph in Dyatlov’s books could very well indicate something going on between them, but it in no way verifies this as fact. You can make your own conclusions about it, but if Yudin had no idea about it then it is pretty safe to say that, if they were dating, they kept it pretty much to themselves.

Was Semyon Zolotarev going by a fake name?

Zolotarev’s given name was Semyon, and yet he introduced himself to almost everyone as Alexander. In fact, his name is even wrong on some of the memorials to the group. Does this mean that he had some sort of horrible secret he was hiding from? Was he secretly a member of the KGB or another secret group?

Probably not, to be perfectly honest. While Zolotarev is easily one of the most mysterious of the nine that perished that night on the slopes of Elevation 1079, his habit of giving the name Alexander instead of Semyon isn’t all that strange. Krivonischenko’s given name was Yuri, but he went by the name Georgy. He did the same thing that Zolotarev did and yet no one seems to find it damning in Krivonischenko’s case. Maybe Alexander was Zolotarev’s middle name, or a second name. It’s not that uncommon. And Sasha, as he was commonly referred to, is a fairly common nickname for Alexander.

So no, he wasn’t going by a false name.

Is it true that there is a photograph showing alien activity from one of the hiker’s cameras?

The last photograph found on one of the cameras recovered from the tent shows a strange, orb-like manifestation. There have been many explanations regarding this photograph.

Some claim that it’s proof of alien activity. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t consider the alien involvement theory to be one worth really looking at, so I am perhaps biased in my answer to this question. I feel like there is absolutely nothing in this photograph that points to aliens. I feel that it is just people grasping at straws to try and explain this phenomenon.

Another, much more logical, explanation is double exposure. It wasn’t that uncommon with film. If it had occurred on any other camera under other circumstances, people wouldn’t even comment on it. But because this photograph happened to come from an event that is extremely unusual, people automatically jump to strange conclusions. It is probably just overexposure.

Another theory is that the searchers who handled the equipment accidentally snapped a photograph. Another very logical possibility that has absolutely nothing to do with aliens.

Is it true that two flashlights were found at the scene?

Yes, there were two flashlights recovered from the mountain.

One is easily explained. It was found on the slope in the Lozva valley, switched to the on position but dead. Presumably one of the tourists either had a flashlight already in hand or thought to grab one before they escaped the tent. Somewhere along their trek back down the slope, the flashlight was dropped and never retrieved.

The second flashlight is a lot more difficult to explain. It was found by searchers on top of the tent. The tent had collapsed under the weight of snow, but the flashlight was found on top of that. On top of 5-10 cm of snow with only light snow covering it. If it had been dropped the night of the tourists’ flight, it would not have ended up on top of the tent – as the tent had not yet collapsed with snowfall – and it would be under the snowfall rather than on top of it. No one has satisfactorily explained this flashlight, unfortunately.

Is it true that there was a missing diary and a missing camera?

Yuri Yudin was incredibly adamant that Alexander Kolevatov kept a personal diary on the trip. There was a group diary, but several of the tourists kept their own personal diaries as well. Yudin was one hundred percent positive that Kolevatov had a diary on the trip – but that diary never turned up. I would say that Yudin made a mistake, but he was so insistent that there had been another diary that it’s sort of hard to doubt him.

As for the camera, that one is still up in the air. One of the more interesting theories is that Zolotarev was a secret KGB agent assigned to take photographs of American spies in the Urals during the trek. According to this theory, the camera he was supposed to use turned up missing and was not included in the official list of evidence. The main reason for this theory is a photograph of Zolotarev’s corpse where some claim you can see a camera hanging around his neck – the same camera that did not make it into the list of evidence. The official report claims that the item around his neck is a military ski mask – which many of the tourists had. Whether or not there really is a missing camera is still unknown.

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