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June 26, 2023

The Dyatlov Pass Mystery: NOT a Cold Case by Henning Kuersten ~ a Review

by MK French

On February 1, 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers died on the slope of Mount Kholat Syakhl, also referred to as "Dead Mountain" or "1079." Three weeks after the incident, their abandoned but strangely intact tent was found, slashed open from the inside. The team fled without proper clothing and died from hypothermia, traumatic violent injuries and burns. Strange last photographs taken by the hikers and high levels of radiation found on some of their clothes have led to decades of speculation over what really happened.

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book cover of biography The Dyatlov Pass Mystery by Henning Kuersten
February 2021; 1STEIN Publishing; 978-3000682896
ebook, print (216 pages); biography

Many theories over the years had been posed: radiation poisoning, a KGB conspiracy, murder within the group, a natural oddity or a supernatural force that they fell victim to. Henning Kuersten had studied computer information science, specializing in image analysis, and is a hiker himself. Working with local experts and going through all of the original documents, photographs and search records, he built up a case as to the actual fate of the nine hikers. From the start of this book, he realizes that it's difficult to separate fact from fiction when he's beginning his search 62 years after it happened. The prior research and historical context is given in the first chapter, then we dive into the current look into this mystery.

All of the concrete facts are outlined, including summaries of the autopsies with photos. It's very much like reading the equivalent of a documentary on the Discovery or History channel. The amount of detail is amazing and clearly laid out. We have the reconstructed sequence of events about the last hours of the team's lives, the weather conditions of the area, and even conditions in the subsequent years. The pass itself, renamed for Dyatlov, was known to have strong winds, odd impacts on compass readings, and occasionally strange sounds or lights. Each of the major theories are explored in this book, which also makes for fascinating reading.

Mr. Kuerstin sets up an explanation that fits the available data, acknowledging his limitations and that we will never know for certain what happened to the hiking team. The recreation of events certainly matches what we know, and reads like the reenactment that shows would have to dramatize events. The Dyatlov hikers went through something extraordinary, leaving behind a mystery that still fascinates people.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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