Unsolved mysteries. They fascinate us, and are the stuff of countless TV shows, movies and books.
Such was the topic of a book my daughter-in-law gifted me: Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, by Donnie Eichar.
I confess this was new to me, and couldn't wait to learn more.
It all happened in February, 1959, when nine, young, experienced Russian hikers set out on a arduous winter trek in the Ural Mountains. Just before reaching their destination, all nine died under mysterious circumstances. For reasons unknown, they suddenly fled their tent, half dressed, into subzero weather. Investigators later found the tent had been ripped open from the inside. Several of the bodies were found with blunt force injuries and excessive exposure to radiation.
The unanswered question: What made them flee to an almost certain death?
Eichar, a documentary film maker from Florida, immerses himself in finding the answer that has eluded researchers for over five decades, and fueled theories ranging from a military cover-up to UFOs. In his quest, he made two trips to Russia, conducts exhaustive interviews and re-traces the steps of the hikers all the way to the place on Dead Mountain where the tent stood.
The author does a fine job of assembling the puzzle pieces while painting a vivid picture of life in Russia, and builds toward his conclusions in classic Sherlock Holmes-fashion. In the end, he finds the most plausible answer rooted not in conspiracy theories or aliens, but in the science of sub-sonic sounds.
Case closed? Probably not. But it's a fascinating read nonetheless.
Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."