Explore the unknown.

Chivruay Pass incident

Chivruay Pass Incident: The Mysterious Deaths of 10 Ski Hikers

There’s a high probability that you’ve never heard of The Chivruay Pass Incident. It wasn’t as public as the other strange Soviet-time group deaths in the 70s when it happened, but there certainly are some mysterious aspects to the story.

Have fun exploring, this is an interesting one.


  • Михаил Кузнецов – Mikhail Kuznetsov (24) – leader of the group
  • Сергей Гусев – Sergey Gusev (17)
  • Юрий Кривов – Yuri Krivov (17)
  • Александр Новосёлов – Alexander Novosyolov (18)
  • Анатолий Пирогов – Anatoly Pirogrov (17)
  • Лидия Мартина – Lydia Martina (26)
  • Юрий Ушков – Yuri Ushkov (18)
  • Валентин Землянов – Valentin Zemlyanov (23)
  • Артём Лекант – Artyom Lekant (17)
  • Илья Альтшуллер – Ilya Altshuller (23)


Nothing foretelling trouble was found from the hikers’ background. The group was students of the Kuybyshev Aviation Institute (KuAI), the leader was Mikhail Kuznetsov, and his “right hand” was Valentin Zemlyanov. In addition to them, Lydia Martina and Ilya Altshuller were also very experienced hikers. All four of them were graduates, the rest were freshmen but not newcomers to hiking. Only Ayrtom Lekant was a newbie compared to the others.

The group was well prepared – they had trained for a long time and became very close to each other. The group leaders Mikhail and Valentin had both done this exact route several times before.

Start Of The Route

On January 25th, 1973, the students with the lead of Mikhail, started their journey along the Lovozero tundra. That day everything went on as usual, they went through Elmorayok Pass and set their camp at the border of the forest. Nothing strange or remarkable happened.

The Tragic Day

The next day, the 26th of January was a cold day (-11F or -24C). They passed the Seydozero lake and climbed up river Chivruay, they put up a tent in the woods and had a hot supper. Judging by the film later developed of the journey, it was snowing during that time. Everything was as usual and their hike was going on as planned, trekking the pass was scheduled to be done on the next day.

Strange Decisions

Even though they were on schedule and the light of a short January day was already falling, they decided to pack their tent and start to climb the plateau. There is no explanation, no marking on the diary nor any other good reason for this decision.

They started climbing the plateau on the northern route, the wind reached nasty numbers (50mph or 23m/s) but it blew from the back. It was almost completely dark and the temperature fell sharply as they were climbing. They crossed the plateau and stood at the precipice of the circus of Kitkuay River.

Slowly Freezing to Death

They didn’t go down the valley of Kitkuay River altogether. They probably stopped to reflect on the way. Half of the group dressed warmly and started the descent, the remaining five spread out the tent and laid down on top of it. They couldn’t pitch up the tent because of the strong wind, but they didn’t even try to dress more warmly or bring their backpacks closer to protect them from the breeze. They could, but for some reason they didn’t. As if they were just slowly waiting to die from the coldness.

The group on top of the plateau were all lying tightly against each other and the last on the windward side tried to cover himself with the tent. Two hikers of the group that started the descent, decided to return to the group on top of the plateau. The remaining three descended successfully to the valley, but they found themselves in a trap: they couldn’t reach the village because of the snow, and they also didn’t have enough strength to go back up against the wind.

Discovery of The Bodies

The deadline for their return, January 31 went by and nothing was heard of the hikers. The snowstorm prevented the landing of rescuers on the plateau, so they got there by skis only on February 6th. They discovered five frozen bodies 30ft from the cliff of the circus, the group who stayed on top of the plateau waiting. The two hikers who started the descent from the plateau but decided to go back up, never actually got back. Their bodies were found not too far away from the top of the plateau.

The search for the bodies continued throughout February. On February 27th in the valley of Kitkuay River, they found two bodies 25ft apart from each other. The last member, Altshuller was found only on June 1st, 400m (~1300ft) from the place where they found the remaining two bodies.

Explanation And The Cause of Death

Judging from the hikers’ watches, the 3 hikers who descended into the valley lived hours longer than the 5 who stayed on top. All of the hikers died of hypothermia, but the reason why they just laid down and waited to die – remains a mystery.

The strangest thing about this case is the decisions that the group made. Why did they start climbing the plateau in the evening, even though the trekking was scheduled for the next day? There were no signs of them leaving in a hurry, so it didn’t seem like they were running away from anything. And why did the group decide to split? Maybe someone fell or something, we might never know and can only speculate what happened.

Similarities Between The Dyatlov Incident and The Chivruay Pass Incident

There are some similarities between the Dyatlov Pass Incident and the Chivruay Incident: both of the groups decided to split, and all of them froze to death (freezing under similar conditions, some undressed). The Chivruay and Dyatlov groups were blamed for bad decisions about starting the ascend etc.

There were also similarities in the bodies discovered – Dyatlov and Chivruay groups were both reported to have “darkened skin” and both of the investigations were taken over by the military.

The parents of Mikhail Kuznetsov and Alexander Novosyolov were not allowed to conduct a private investigation, which adds to the oddness of this case.

Similar Cases to The Chivruay Pass Incident

Unexplained deaths of the Khamar-Daban hiking group
Mystery of the Dyatlov Pass

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *