There is an area on the slope of Kholat Syakhl in the Ural Mountains known as “Dyatlov Pass”, thusly named for the leader of an ill-fated 1959 expedition that remains a mystery to this day. Nine experience skiers struck out on an expedition in February of that year, but never returned. When a rescue team found the camp, they were met with a confusing and unusual scene: the tent was torn open from the inside and footprints led away from camp toward a nearby forest.
Most belongings and clothing had been left behind. The footprints indicated that the skiers had departed in socks, barefoot, or wearing only one shoe, which would have been crazy for the snow and bitter cold (-30 Celsius). The bodies of all nine skiers were eventually found in various places throughout the forest and a nearby ravine. Some appeared to have died traumatically (broken ribs, a crushed skull, a missing tongue), but none had external wounds. The clothing on those bodies that were clothed showed high levels of radiation.
After some investigation, the authorities abruptly closed the case and filed it away in secret archives. Some people have pointed to an avalanche as an explanation for the incident, others propose secret government testing in the area, and still others to mysterious “bright flying spheres” allegedly spotted in the general area.
With such spooky and dramatic trappings, it’s not surprising that the story has caught the eye of a Hollywood filmmaker. Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin has announced that his next project will be based on this “Dyatlov Pass incident” and has even released the first bit of sales art for the film. Even though it seems Harlin’s film will be about “contemporary students on a trek to investigate the mystery” of the 1959 skiers, the setting and tagline suggest that whatever befell the original group will rear its head again.
There are many theories about what exactly happened on the mountainside, but the poster (and Harlin’s comment that the incident is “one of the great unsolved mysteries of paranormal lore”) makes it obvious which explanation the director has chosen to base his story on. We still don’t know exactly what those orbs signify, though. Are they aliens? Government experiments? Hallucinations? And, is it just me or is there something strange going on on the back of the woman’s neck in the poster?