Mechanisms of slab avalanche release and impact in the Dyatlov Pass incident in 1959

Resource | v1 | created by jjones |
Type Paper
Created 2021-01-28
Identifier ISSN: 2662-4435


The Dyatlov Pass incident is an intriguing unsolved mystery from the last century. In February 1959, a group of nine experienced Russian mountaineers perished during a difficult expedition in the northern Urals. A snow avalanche hypothesis was proposed, among other theories, but was found to be inconsistent with the evidence of a lower-than-usual slope angle, scarcity of avalanche signs, uncertainties about the trigger mechanism, and abnormal injuries of the victims. The challenge of explaining these observations has led us to a physical mechanism for a slab avalanche caused by progressive wind-blown snow accumulation on the slope above the hikers’ tent. Here we show how a combination of irregular topography, a cut made in the slope to install the tent and the subsequent deposition of snow induced by strong katabatic winds contributed after a suitable time to the slab release, which caused severe non-fatal injuries, in agreement with the autopsy results.


about Dyatlov Pass incident

The Dyatlov Pass incident (Russian: гибель тургруппы Дятлова) was an event in which nine Russian hike...

published by Nature

Nature is a British weekly scientific journal founded and based in London, England. As a multidiscipl...

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