Dyatlov Pass Incident

Birthdate: Unknown – 18 at the time
Date of deaths: February 1-2, 1959
Location: Kholat Syakhl,
Northern Ural Mountains, Russia

Members of the group:
Igor Alekseyevich Dyatl, Yuri Nikolayevich Doroshenko, Lyudmila Alexandrovna Dubinina
Georgiy (Yuri) Alexeyevich Krivonischenko, Alexander Sergeyevich Kolevatov, Zinaida Alekseevna Kolmogorova, Rustem Vladimirovich Slobodin, Nikolai Vladimirovich Thibeaux-Brignolles and Semyon (Alexander) Alekseevich Zolotaryov

Question: Who or what caused the deaths of the Russian hikers involved in what is called the Dyatlov Pass Incident?

Row 1
5 of Wands – Page of Swords (reversed) – King of Wands
Card pulled for the Page of Swords (r): The Star
Card pulled for the King of Wands: 4 of Cups (reversed)

Row 2
Death (reversed) – The Emperor (reversed) – The Hermit

Row 3
Knight of Wands (reversed) – 10 of Swords – Strength
Card pulled for the Knight of Wands (r): The Fool

Dyatlov Pass reading 1 – Dancing in the Dark tarot

Disclaimer: Tarot readings should not be taken as absolute claims that something did or did not happen. I only report the meaning of the cards, their relationships and the meaning in the context of those relationships, as well as intuitions I have based entirely on the cards presented in the reading. When/if I say that something happened, in any part of a reading description, I mean that is what I am interpreting from the cards, their positions, and other related factors.


Nine experienced hikers were found deceased in the northern Ural Mountains. They were believed to have died between February 1st and 2nd of 1959. It is believed that something caused them to flee their tent in the middle of the night, while inadequately dressed for the subzero temperatures in the region. Some were determined to have died of hypothermia and others showed evidence of physical trauma, such as major skull damage in one person and a crack in the skull, as well as chest trauma in another. There are many different theories about how and why they died.


Привет! The Five of Wands shows me that the members of this group were competitive with each other and were experiencing disagreements about various aspects of the hike. The card is presenting as the first in the reading which suggests that one such disagreement, or a culmination of many smaller disagreements, is what set the rest of the events in motion.

The Page of Swords reversed is telling me that there was conflict over the planning of the hike and decisions made about where to go or where to camp. It can refer to bad news and so there is the possibility that the weather had turned worse than expected and that they were concerned about those conditions and what to do about them. The Star, pulled in relation to this card almost depicts a sense that a decision was made that was believed to give them the best outcome in the situation, or the most hope given the circumstances. It could also refer to a mindset that is overly optimistic and doesn’t fully consider the ramifications of a decision or course of action. The focus was on longer term goals, such as fully completing the hike.

The King of Wands is referring to someone in the group who was among the older and more mature individuals. This person would have had a bold personality that was devoid of fear, thus likely contributing to some recklessness on their part at times. This person was looked upon as the leader of the group and so even if people were not completely sure about their decision-making, they might have deferred to him anyway. I don’t know if he was the actual designated leader, or if he was someone who just emerged as a secondary one with those characteristics. The latter is possible since there appear to have been disagreements and some people kind of working at cross-purposes if you will.

The Four of Cups reversed is a situation where a person or a group of people have various choices and opportunities, but they aren’t really interested in the majority of them. There is a sense of apathy with this card. It comes across as a tendency to fall back on habits or past approaches when it might make more sense to become open minded and do something different. It can also show a situation where a person’s apathy proves deadly because they did not really think through all the possible consequences.

Death reversed supports the above notion because it is showing me a person or people who are repeating negative or bad patterns of behavior. People that get this card are in a position where they are fearful of doing something different and so they either fall into the trap of inaction or they make decisions that are in line with past behaviors and don’t really take the new circumstances completely into account.

The Emperor reversed tells me that someone finally laid down the law so to speak. Someone used their position and authority in the group in a way that was stubborn and rigid. It’s possible that most of the group did not want to take a particular action, but this individual said, “this is the way we are doing it.” And then that’s what happened. The choice was probably widely viewed as reckless too. I am getting a strong impression that everyone was not on board with it.

The Knight of Wands reversed is suggesting there were underlying issues with this group of people that contributed to whatever the dispute was on the day/evening in question. People that come up as represented by this card are usually arrogant, overly confident, and forceful in their approach. However, the card could reflect an overall energy as well. The Fool card shows a spur of the moment decision or course of action. It reads like “we’re camping here because this is our best bet” kind of deal. However, it might not have been their best bet because the cards have been telling me all along that the choice was terrible. Over-confidence played a role in overriding common sense in that regard.

The Ten of Swords is about the worst card you can get in a reading like this. In the presence of other questionable and foreboding cards, it shows a situation ending in total and utter ruin.

The Strength card is an unfortunate one to see at the very end as well because it shows me these people fought to survive their circumstances; however, they were no match for them. Their strength was overcome as we can see by the appearance of the Ten of Swords. Whatever happened, occurred quickly and unexpectedly. So fast, in fact, that some were probably fatally injured before they completely left the tent. However, this aspect is not completely clear in this reading.

I am not seeing a situation where other people showed up or anything that would suggest something outside of the realm of what I can only think to describe as “natural”. It’s coming across as a kind of freak accident that occurred due to poor decision making regarding the planning/camping aspect of the trip. The prevalence of cards in the wands suit tells me the events happened quickly – between the time that the group became away there was some kind of problem as shown in the Page of Swords reversed card (likely with the weather, but possibly pertaining to something else) and the demise depicted in the Ten of Swords. I don’t think they even saw it coming.

Question: What caused their death (what was the mechanism)?

Row 1
Judgement – 10 of Wands (reversed) – Hanged Man

Row 2
Temperance (reversed) – The Lovers – 2 of Swords

Dyatlov Pass reading 2 – Dancing in the Dark tarot


I wasn’t particularly satisfied with the answers I got above. So I decided to ask one more question.

The first card I got was Judgement. Judgement is always a reminder that our choices have consequences – for better or for worse. It can be an awakening or a moment of reckoning. In the case of these hikers, it was a moment of reckoning. A poor decision was made, and everyone paid for it.

The second card is the 10 of Wands reversed. I see this as the cards communicating more information about why the person made the choice that they did. It is showing them as someone that preferred to take on the bulk of the decision-making. People like this have trouble delegating and can become completely overburdened by responsibility. The problem with this type of situation is that it can lead to collapse and ruin – especially when the burden should have been spread out more.

The Hanged Man suggests that there was a lot of uncertainty about the situation. Some people who gave in and went with the ultimate decision felt they made a sacrifice. And this is true, given what ended up happening.

Temperance reversed is driving home the point about there being discord in the group, arguments, and a sense of imbalance. It also points to some degree of recklessness. I think that whoever decided to camp there knew deep down it was not a good choice, but they really believed the odds were in their favor that it would not backfire.

The Lovers can refer to relationships, but it can also indicate an important choice. So this card can be taken a couple of ways here. Maybe some of the conflict and discord pertained to relationships among people in the group. However, it also might refer to the final choice of deciding where everyone would pitch the tent and stay. The choice of staying out in the open, at the angle they did, is definitely a risky proposition in bad weather. These were experienced hikers and they had to have known they were playing some risky odds there. There might not have been another truly viable option in their mind though. Everything could have ended badly no matter what they did. It’s hard to say.

But the Two of Swords tells me they really did not see a better alternative. Maybe their sight was limited in a literal sense, or they were exhausted. I don’t know. The Two of Swords conveys a sense of denial and inability to see a situation clearly. It also refers to times when no single solution seems optimal. The number of major arcana cards in this second reading alone – four – tells me that circumstances were not entirely under their control. The greater forces at play – such as the weather and other related factors – were greater than this group of people. They were casualties of these forces.

As always, these are just tarot readings and interpretations. I have no way to know what happened for certain. Please do not take any of the information described in the readings as fact until or unless details are proven.


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