Bodies of Yuri Doroshenko, Yuri Krivonischenko, Igor Dyatlov and Zinaida Kolmogorova were found on February 27, 1959 and brought to Ivdel. Autopsy was performed on March 4 by the regional bureau forensic patologyst Boris Alekseevich Vozrojdenniy (ironically his last name means "reborn" in Russian, interesting choice of profession) and the city medical examiner of Severouralsk Ivan Ivanovich Laptev. Medical examiners were still seeing the accident as freezing to death, although certain details were rising questions: Doroshenko had pulmonary oedema and pulmonary contusion as a result of blunt trauma; Krivonischenko bit off a piece his own knuckle to stay awake or stifle a cry and had 3rd degree burns that can not be sustained if you fall asleep still alive; Dyatlov was vomiting blood and Kolmogorova had a baton shaped bruise on her waist. Still the cause of death was hypothermia and nobody was suspecting a foul play. Not yet. On March 5 was found the fifth body and it was identified as Rustem Slobdoin. His autopsy was performed on March 8 by Vozrojdenniy alone. The skull trauma he had can't not be attributed to clumsiness or disorientation. Somebody hit him in the head. The remaining four bodies of Lyudmila Dubinina, Alexander Kolevatov, Nikolai Thibeaux-Brignolles and Semyon Zolotaryov were examined on May 9, 1959. Their bodies were found by a Mansi native Kurikov with his dog several months after their deaths. The state of their bodies will change the course of the whole investigation.
Remains of a fire under old cedar with branches broken up to 5 m high suggesting that hikers had climbed up to look for something or to hide from someone. The clearing is facing in the direction where the tent was. The branches of the cedar were scattered on the ground, and partly hung on the lower branches. Nearby the young fir and birch trees were cut with a knife to break. The cut off tops and the knife were not found. This cuttings were not meant for burning as dryer twigs could be found around. It became clear that under the cedar more than two people engaged in great effort to gather wood for protection.
Yuri Doroshenko was 180 cm tall, most sturdy and tallest member of the group. The complexion of the deceased has been described as "brown-purple". He was wearing sleeveless cotton undershirt, short sleeve checked shirt with two empty breast pockets with all sixs buttons fastened, shorts and swimming trunks, blue cotton underpants fastened with two buttons - badly ripped on the front of the right side with one large hole 23 cm in length and inside the thigh of the left side 13 cm in length. He was wearing different set of wool socks on both feet, socks on left foot were burned. No shoes. Livor mortis spots were located at the back of the neck, torso and extremities, which was not consistent with the position of the body in which it was found. This means the body was moved some time after the blood stopped circulating.
Amount of urine was 150 cm3. This volume is smaller than what it would be expected in case of death by hypothermia. The body was still making efforts to fight the freezing at the time of death. The hypothermic death cases have significantly more urine in the bladder (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). The foamy grey fluid that was found on the right cheek of the deceased started the speculations that before death someone or something was pressing on his chest cavity. This forceful method was common for interrogation by the NKVD (Stalin's Secret Police) and Special Forces. The cause could also be a nasty fall from a tree. This aspect was ignored in the final papers, that read cause of death: hypothermia.
Experts described the injuries - bruises and abrasions, as non-life threatening and explained them with Doroshenko hitting himself in rocks and ice, and other surrounding objects, in the state of agony. Death, according to the file, occurred 6-8 hours after the last meal.
His body was discovered underneath the cedar tree. He was dressed in a undershirt, long sleeved checked shirt, swimming pants, long underpants and torn sock on his left foot. No footwear.
The amount of urine in the bladder was 500 cm3. Cause of death: hypothermia. The presence of skin between his teeth that was torn from his hand might suggest that Krivonischenko tried to stay on the cedar tree as long as he could and tried to awaken his irresponsive hands by biting himself, or he was trying to stifle a cry.
The first two bodies of (Doroshenko and Krivonischenko) that were found from the Dyatlov Pass incident showed an expected pattern of death. They froze to death. Their clothes were removed by their friends. It might sound bad, but this is the reality of Siberia. If you can't keep yourself warm, you will die quickly. One of the most common myths that surround these deaths is a theory of so-called "paradoxical undressing". This theory ignores the fact that the bodies were undressed after they died and it was done by other members with a help of a knife in some cases. Different articles of clothing were simply cut from the dead bodies or taken off and used by other members of the group. The sliers clearly showed logical will to live. There was no state of panic and there were no illogical actions. Bodies were carefully and respectfully laid side by side and their possessions were divided among the survivors.
Igor Dyatlov was found same day (2-27-1959) 300 m from the cedar, face up, head towards the tent. Above the snow were visible only his hands clenched into fists folded in front of his chest. The unbuttoned jacket is unusual for somebody that is freezing to death.
Height 175 cm, the complexion of the deceased has been described as "bluish-red". He had unbuttoned fur sleeveless vest - outer side blue cotton, inner side dark grey fur (Yudin later recognized this as vest he gave Krivonishenko when they parted), a blue sweater, long sleeve red cotton shirt, in the breats pocket 4 pills Streptocide (anti-inflammatory agent used for wound infection) still in the blister, blue sleeveless cotton singlet, ski pants over his pants. No shoes. He had one cotton sock on his left foot, and one woolen sock on his right foot. It is hard to explain this uneven distribution. It could be that he had two socks on one foot and later took it off to protect the other bare foot. It might have been someone's sock who simply gave it away to protect a friend from a certain death. The watch "Zvezda" (Star) on the his wrist had stopped at 5:31
There were no internal injuries. Amount of urine in the bladder about 1000 cm3. Cause of death: hypothermia. Later Yury Yudin will testify that the long sleeved shirt found on the body of Igor Dyatlov was his. But he gave it to Doroshenko then he was departing. It would be logical to assume that Dyatlov got it from a frozen body of the Doroshenko after he had died.
Zinaida was found 630 m from the cedar, face down, head towards the tent. She was better dressed than the bodies under the cedar. She had two hats, long sleeve undershirt, sweater, checked shirt and another sweater with torn cuff of the right sleeve. It was unclear whether she cut them it or it was torn by another person. Sweaters were inside out which is not unusual for mountaineers when they try to dry clothes by wearing them. Waist down Zinaida was wearing cotton sport pants, trousers, ski pants with three small holes at the bottom of the right trouser-leg, and three pairs of socks. Two pairs were thin, then the third pair was woolen with insoles inside. No footwear. In her pockets were found 5 rubles and a military style protective mask on the left side of her chest between the top sweater and the checked shirt underneath.
Amount of urine in bladder is 300 cm3. Cause of death: hypothermia due to violent accident. Medical examination shows that Zinaida was not sexually active at the time of her death. This fact is only relative to asses the nature of the relationship between Zinaida Kolmogorova and Igor Dyatlov.
Fracture of the frontal bone and hemorrhages (shaded areas) in the temporalis muscles that were found on the skull of Rustem Slobodin
Rustem was better dressed that the previously found hikers. He wore a long sleeve undershirt, shirt, sweater, two pairs of pants, four pairs of socks, and one felt boot (valenka) on his right foot. His watch stopped at 8:45 am. On the chest under the sweater were two shoe insoles, in the shirt pocket - 310 rubles and his passport. In other pockets were found small folding pocket knife (penknife), pencil, pen, comb in a plastic sleeve, box of matches with 48 match sticks, and one cotton sock. His autopsy was performed on March 8 by Vozrojdenniy alone.
Boris Alekseevich Vozrojdenniy suggested that the fracture in his skull could be done with some foreign blunt object. Medical autopsy further states that Slobodin probably suffered loss of coordination due to initial shock right after the blow that could speed up his death from hypothermia. However the conclusion is predictably careful. Death of Rustem Slobodin is judged as a result from hypothermia. All bruises and scratches were blamed on last minute agony. Although it is still somewhat unclear how did he manage to harm his exterior hands and legs. When the person falls even in an irrational state it is usually the palms that suffer the most as well as medial aspects of the legs. Injury to the head are less common, especially bilateral ones. It is also unusual to harm the face and sides of the skull while the back of the head has no damage. In case of Slobodin's body we see the opposite. His injury pattern is a reverse of what we would usually see in injuries suffered by a freezing man in the last minutes of his life. It looks as if Rustem fell repeatedly on his face as he was walking down the mountain. And every time he fell he managed to hit the sides of the his head. This is unusual for a man who was probably in a better physical shape than anyone else in the group. Even a long ski trip could hardly be responsible for this alleged "clumsiness". Rustem's body was the only one with icy bed under from the hardening of the thawing snow. This means that the body fell when relatively still warm and there was a noticeable heat exchange into the environment.
On Doroshenko (found face up), Kolmogorova and Slobodin (found face down) the livor mortis spots were on the top surface of the body. This lead to speculations that the bodies were moved (turned over) after their death. This finding is controversial.
Searching efforts continue but two months went by without a trace of the remaining 4 hikers.
When in May the snow start melting a Mansi native Kurikov with his dog noticed some cut branches that were forming sort of trail which they followed and 50 m from the cedar they found black cotton sweat pants, the right leg cut off with a knife. Cedar branches, a young fir tree was missing its top, another piece of clothing was found - the left half of the women's light-brown wool sweater, right half and sleeves cut off. Sweater was presumed to belong to Lyudmila Dubinina. The area was previously searched with avalanche probes but the snow then was deeper than expected. The bodies were found on May 5 and examined on May 9, 1959. See more detailed maps
Dyatlov Pass Den is one of the key issues in the whole Dyatlov Pass Incident. On one hand it clearly shows that member of the party were sane enough to do anything in their power to survive. On the other hand it is still unclear on why their attempts didn't work.
The den was made by surviving four members of the Dyatlov group 70- 75 meters from the cedar in a ravine that was hidden from cold winds. It was probably an idea of Zolotarev. It was a common way to survive winters at the front and given the circumstances it offered the best chance for survival for those who remained behind waiting in hope that their three friends will make it to the top of the mountain. It further undermines the theory of paradox undressing. The group clearly realized their threats and did everything they could to preserve themselves. Cedar branches were brought here and laid out to minimize contact of human bodies and cold snow underneath. Furthermore Ludmila Dubinina had sweater and pants of Krivonischenko. Both as it turned out had radiation present on them. However the strangeness of the case was not resolved. In fact it became more weird. All, but three members had significant damage to their bones. They were crushed with immense force. Doctors compared the extend of the damage to being hit by a car. A second thing that is striking about the den is that bodies were actually found few feet from their improvised shelter in the deep part of the ravine on the area of only 4 square meters. Some of the clothes that were taken from bodies left underneath the cedar tree were placed on the cedar branches, but apparently they were not used.
Lyudmila wore a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, and two sweaters. The brown sweater belonged to Krivonischenko - one of the two found beneath the cedar, and lately tested radioactive. The body was dressed with underwear, long socks, two pairs of pants. External pair was badly damaged by fire and subsequently ripped. She also wore a small hat and two pairs of warm sock. A third sock was not paired. Lyudmila apparently in the last attempt to preserve her feet took off her sweater and cut it in two pieces. One half she rapped around her left foot. Another half she left or dropped unintentionally on the snow.
There are claims that the tongue was ripped, or eaten, or whatnot. The medical records simply that "the tongue is missing". Vozrojdenniy describes missing hypoglossal muscle as well as muscles of the floor of the mouth. That is it. There is no explanation, theories, condition of the surrounding tissues. Photos of Lyudmila from the morgue clearly show that there is no damage to the mouth, nose, ears or other soft tissues. If the body was devoured by scavengers, insects or even fish in the water these would be the first parts of the body that would show signs of damage.
It looks weird especially given the fact previous bodies had more detailed autopsies. There is no credible explanation for this vague statement. Although it is mentioned that the stomach contained about 100 g of coagulated blood. It is used by some as an indication that the heart was beating and the blood was flowing when tongue was removed from a mouth. The cause of death is stated as hemorrhage into right atrium of the heart, multiple fractured ribs and internal bleeding.
The body of Semyon Zolotaryov was found at the Dyatlov Pass with two hats, scarf, short, long sleeve shirt, black sweater and a coat with two upper buttons unbuttoned. It was fairly clear that the guy didn't die from the cold. On the contrary the den was pretty warm place for him. His lower part of the body was protected by underwear, two pairs of pants and a pair of skiing pants. He had a copy of newspapers, several coins, compass, and other few items. His legs were protected by a pair of socks and a pair of warm leather hand made shoes known as "burka". They probably couldn't keep him warm for a long time, but in the den it was sufficient in keeping the man alive. Additionally the body of Zolotaryov had a camera around his neck as it it clearly seen on the pictures. We should add that this camera became a complete surprise to Yuri Yudin. He assumed the group had only four cameras that were found in the tent. And all of a sudden a fifth camera turned out on the body. Unfortunately melting water damaged the film. But the question still lingers. Why did Zolotaryov left the tent with the camera and why did he take two cameras to the trip? One was used on daily basis and everyone saw it. It was left in the tent and discovered there by the search party, but another was hidden throughout a journey and was found only after Semen Zolotarev have died.
Both Zolotarev and Dubinina have an interesting pattern of injuries. They are very similar in direction and force despite difference in shape, height and body composition of the two. This would suggest that whatever caused these injuries was not a single uniform event.
The body of Aleksander Kolevatov was well insulated, but he was missing a hat and shoes. His upper torso was protected by a sleeveless shirt, long sleeved shirt, sweater, fleece sweater and ski jacket with a zipper and buttons. Ski jacket was damaged. A big hole on the left sleeve had burnt edges and measured 25x12x13 cm. His right sleeve was also damaged. Several tears 7-8 cm were found. The jacket was unbuttoned and unzipped. A strange finding for person who was supposedly dying from cold and hypothermia. During autopsy following objects were retrieved from his pockets: key, safety pin, some blank paper (probably to keep a record of his thoughts or events) and two packages of pills (soda and codeine).
The lower part of the body had shorts, light pants, ski pants and another pair of canvas pants. From the right pocket doctors retrieved a box of matches that was soaked wet. His feet as it was mentioned had no shoes, but they were protected by home knitted woolen socks with sights of fire damage. His right foot was also protected by a light sock underneath a woolen one. His left foot had similar three socks. Additionally a bandage was discovered on the left ankle, but it was probably put before the Dyatlov Pass Incident since the group left their first aid kit in the tent.
The waistband of his sweater and the lower parts of his trousers later tested radioactive.
This autopsy had similar strange silence about the injuries of the victim. Broken nose, open wound behind the ear and deformed neck might be the result of a fight and be cause of death. On the other hand it could have been caused by natural elements since the body was exposed to nature for three whole months. Yet the doctor ignores this matter and doesn't try to explain the reason for these strange injuries. We should probably add that snapped neck and blow behind the ear is a common sign of killing performed by special forces. However we can't be sure about this since the autopsy report didn't specify any more details about the body. We are left guessing on the nature and origin of these injuries.
Nikolay Thibeaux Brignolle was well protected against coldness of Siberian winter. It was suggested that him and Zolotarev might have been outside of the tent at the time mysterious threat struck them. This explain why both tourists wore shoes and were covered by several layers of clothes. Both men were much better prepared than the rest of the group when they were forced to abandon their tent.
Nikolay wore a canvas fur hat and home knitted woolen hat. Upper body was protected from coldness by shirt, wool sweater worn inside out and a fur jacket on a sheepskin. Woolen gloves were found in the right pocket along with three coins, comb and several pieces of paper. Lower part of the body was protected by underwear, sweat pants, cotton pants and ski pants. On his feet he wore hand-knitted woolen socks a a pair of felt boots (valenki), Russian winter shoes perfect for Siberian coldness.
Additionally Nikolay Thibeaux Brignolle wore two watches on the left arm. One stopped at 8:14 and another at 8:39. Cadaveric spots were discovered on the back of the upper body, neck and upper extremities. Face hair length up to 1cm.
Vozrojdenniy, who undertook the autopsy, excluded accidental fall on the rock as a possible cause for such a massive and unusual fracture. Some theorized that the shape might be due to pressure applied during alleged avalanche that hit unsuspected tourists while they slept in the tent. If Nikolay slept on a camera this sudden increase in pressure could leave a mark on his head, however the shape of the lens is round and the damage would have a more round shape. Another reason why some specialists refused this theory is a massive hemorrhage that would make Thibeaux-Brignolle unable to move on his own and leave the site of the tent. There was no signs of dragging on the snow and foot prints suggest that everyone in the group moved on their own two feet.