The Dyatlov Pass incident, a mysterious case that involved nine college students perishing on a remote Russian mountainside in 1959, has made headlines recently, following the airing of Discovery’s latest example of prime-time programming that appears to blend fact with liberal amounts of fantasy.

In a televised special that aired Sunday night with the sensational title, “Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives,” researchers attempted to use a grainy photograph of a purported “wild man” to substantiate the idea that the nine hikers who perished at the location now remembered as Dyatlov Pass had been stalked by a reclusive Bigfoot-like creature.

Though the program featured interviews with experts of some repute, such as Igor Burtsev and Dr. Jeffery Meldrum, from what I’ve seen of this “Russian Yeti” mess, it was merely a sensationalized romp attempting to make a great big, terrifying mountain of nonsense out of what was already a heartbreaking — and deadly — mole’s hill.

A number of people in the blogsphere are comparing the Russian Yeti program to previous Discovery programming which has offered semi-believable documentary-style narratives surrounding fictional creatures and scenarios (specifically, the giant prehistoric shark Megalodon and legends of mermaids).

Todd Bryan is a Gralien Report reader who shared similar thoughts this morning. Bryan holds an MS in Psychology, and as he relates below, there are indeed problems that come with sensationalizing a horrific, unsolved incident the likes of which took place at Dyatlov Pass in 1959:

Just watched the new Discovery channel special linking Yeti evidence to the mysterious death of the Dyatlov hikers. Its more crap along the lines of Mermaid: The Body Found.

I’ve been very interested in the Dyatlov expedition since I was in my teens, and because of this fictional “documentary” I’m even more ashamed of Discovery than I was over the mermaid thing. This is capitalizing on the one aspect of the case that is known, the fact that nine people died horrifically. They deserve to have their story seriously investigated and told, not least because some of them still have surviving relatives. This “documentary” craps nonsense all over the actual story. 

Would it have been that much more expensive to mount a serious investigation? 

I have an MS in Psychology, and I wrote several position papers on the tendency to need to fill in gaps in stories. In the absence of evidence, humans have a hard time accepting that they may not ever know all of a story. Consequently, we fill in gaps. Used to be fairies and goblins, now it’s UFOs and Bigfoot. That’s my theory anyway. Doesn’t mean there isn’t a real world basis for both though, just makes more “false positives” occur. 

We thank Todd for sharing his thoughts with us… elsewhere, in an analysis that appeared at Examiner.com, Jeffery Meldrum of the Bigfoot Field Researcher’s Organization was asked about the real possibility that a “Russian Yeti” might have been involved.

“Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) curator, Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, appears in “Russian Yeti,” so HitFix asked him about the possibility of the creature playing a part in the Dyatlov Pass incident. “Many, many hypotheses about what transpired and what happened to these people exist,” he said. “Some have hung the yeti theory on the presence of footprints and that, when you look at the cameras, they found this single shot of a ghostly figure emerging from the treeline.”

“Meldrum was more interested in talking about the temperament of the yeti. “There’s been a lot of discussion about whether any of these wild men figures, if indeed they exist, whether they pose a threat to humans,” he said. Meldrum pointed out that gorillas used to be viewed as monsters, but now they’re seen as gentle giants that are victims of deforestation. It’s almost impossible to find accounts of gorillas killing humans even though they’re certainly capable of it.”

Sadly, these themes were less prevalent in Discovery’s recent feature.

Our friend Jim Boyd of the International Fortean Organization (INFO) was more blunt when he shared the following this morning:

“I think this is a fake… (the Dyaltov Pass Incident) should not be subject to this crap.”

Sadly, it seems that Discovery has once again placed sensationalism and ratings over any quest for real data and hard facts, even in a case so disturbing as that of the Dyatlov Pass incident. But then again, it is television… what more should we really expect?

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Author: Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, and podcaster. His interests include areas of history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and the study of anomalous phenomena in nature. He can be reached at info@micahhanks.com.

9 Replies to “Dyatlov Lives: Reactions to “Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives”

  1. “But then again, it is television… what more should we really expect?” You’ve already said all that can be said about this silly show.

    1. I agree with PurrlGurrl, it is tv after all,so anything you watch,you have to watch with a grain of salt.

  2. I agree that it is not uncommon to sensationalize almost everything on TV. I don’t think it should be ok to pretend you are presenting a documentary when in fact it is fiction. This is part of the reason why the paranormal continues to be treated like a joke by “mainstream” science. Unlike the tongue in cheek approach of shows like Bigfoot Hunters or even the more open ended “draw your own conclusions” spirit of Ancient Aliens, this show presented itself as a serious investigation (just like last year’s Mermaids:The Body Found) that arrived at well supported conclusions, and it was not.

  3. I agree. This is another load of crap from discovery. I used to really enjoy this channel but now all they try to deceive people with their lies and sensationalism. Why can’t they just note that these crappy programs are “non-fictional”. There is one way to get back at these morons. Just tune them out.

  4. Well it can be real and maybe the nine college students were attacked by it what else could it be

  5. If Yeti’s, Big Foot, etc. lives, they are apparently elusive and do not bother humans but rather run from them. My thought is that whatever the bright lights were (perhaps there was firing, missiles of some sort) that allegedly the “military” were doing scared the hikers and they ran for cover in the woods staying there for long hours in the freezing weather and ultimately dying from hyperthermia. It is unfortunate that the families will never know. I would have rather seen investigation into what did actually happen as I am curious to know the real story.

  6. The initial investigators were treating the case as one in which the victims were attacked. Eyeball and tongue removals aren’t compelling features of avalanches UNLESS, of course, you’re one of those who will believe anything you read. One investigator described some of the injuries (head and chest fractures) as being the result of the victims being squeezed “ever so tightly.” Hm. But how did most of the seriously injured victims end up in a ravine covered by 10-13 feet of snow? I think the crime scene was tampered with. And the evidence of radiation found on the clothes and bodies of some of the victims? Another set of anomalous data, no doubt, that must be reconciled somehow with the more obvious evidence of overt violence. To Discovery’s credit it has provided some valuable clues. I think I know what happened.

  7. Some interesting (and very sad) elements here. I can’t explain the creature in the photo (and in the original negatives). There was nothing grainy about it. It was either an unknown creature or a man in a costume. The creature in the photo was much slimmer than the being Roger Patterson claimed to have filmed in Bluff Creek, CA. I find it hard to believe those kids would pack a gorilla suit in an attempt to perpetrate a hoax or that some hoaxer would wander about that remote and frozen corner of the world in the hopes that they would bump into some suckers. On the other hand, any time the Russian military is involved expect lies and perhaps death. The photo (and the negative) included in the original photo strip is tough to explain.

  8. I have a couple questions, if anyone has an answer. Was the picture of the black figure a real picture, or created just for the show? If it’s a real picture, was it really a mysterious figure, or do they know that it’s one of the group members? My other question is about the journal entry. Was the entry saying something on the lines of, “the yeti is real” a real entry, or was that just made up for the show? If anyone has an answer I would appreciate it. Thank you!

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