Donnie Eichar is a critically acclaimed TV and film writer,
director, and producer, most notably of MTV's reality travel series
The Buried Life. He has worked as an in-house producer and
director for Current TV, directed music videos, and for the last
five years worked to write, edit, and produce his first
feature-length documentary Victory Over Darkness, which
documents blind athletes competing in an Iron Man Triathalon. His
experimental film Swivel played at SXSW and has been shown
on IFC. He lives in Los Angeles.
J.C. Gabel is the editor in chief of The Chicagoan and was the editor and publisher of the magazine Stop Smiling and Stop Smiling Books. He writes for numerous publications including Salon, Book Forum, The Millions, the Oxford American, the Los Angeles Times, and others. He also edits books for Taschen, and lives in Chicago (currently based in L.A. for the time being while working on this project.)
"The mystery of the bizarre deaths of elite Russian hikers in a
1959 tragedy on a deadly Ural mountain is the subject of Eichar's
extensive investigation. Eichar, a film director and producer,
tries to make sense of the puzzling tale of the dead students from
Ural Polytechnic University; he sets off to interview the hikers'
relatives, investigators, and even a lone survivor. Following the
search party's retrievals of the bodies, the questions deepen when
the victims are discovered, insufficiently dressed for the frigid
weather, shoeless, with violent injuries, including a horrible
skull fracture, a leg torn away, and a tongue ripped out. With
expert analysis of the remaining evidence, Eichar tries to answer
why the hikers, seven men and two women, would go out into the
bitter cold without warm clothing to meet certain death; curious,
too, is that the contents of the tent were intact. Possible causes
for the panic, according to Eichar and officials, are: an
avalanche; mysterious armed men; even a fatal tiff by the males
over the women. As the elements of this complicated tangle are
compiled, the final wrap-up of the mountain tragedy is
overwhelming, befitting a case defying explanation."
"An American documentary filmmaker drops into the well of one of Soviet Russia's greatest mysteries. . . . A sad tale of tragedy and investigatory enigmas from the wilds of Soviet Union."
"Readers will appreciate the drama and poignancy of Eichar's solid depiction of this truly eerie and enduring mystery."
"Dead Mountain piques your curiosity from start to finish as the details of these nine young and vibrant hikers unfold to explain their brave fight for survival in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. "
"The Dyatlov Pass incident is virtually unknown outside Russia, but in that country, it's been a much-discussed mystery for decades. In 1959, nine Russian university students disappeared on a hiking expedition in the Ural Mountains. A rescue team found their bodies weeks later, nearly a mile from their campsite, partially clothed, shoeless, three of them having died from injuries that indicated a physical confrontation. What happened here? There have been a lot of theories, ranging from misadventure to government conspiracy to freak weather to extraterrestrials, but no one has managed to get to the truth. Drawing on interviews with people who knew the hikers (and with the lone survivor of the expedition, who'd had to turn back due to illness), Russian case documents, and the hikers' own diaries, Eichar, an American documentarian, re-creates the ill-fated expedition and the investigation that followed. The author's explanation of what happened on Dead Mountain is necessarily speculative, but it has the advantage of answering most of the long-standing questions while being intuitively plausible. A gripping book, at least as dramatic as Krakauer's Into Thin Air (1997). "
"Five Stars...The best investigation on [The Dyatlov Pass Incident] that I have ever read."
-Mysterious Universe podcast
""Dead Mountain" reads like a mystery, with flashback chapters that lead up to the last known details of the ill-fated adventure. Author Eichar is a documentary filmmaker who fell into the 50-year-old mystery. Determined to unravel the clues, he takes a winter hike into the same mountains. His research leads him to sort through the classic explanations?avalanche, attack by the local Mansi people, high winds, armed men, weapons testing, and even aliens. Punctuated with primary source documents, readers will be riveted to the final conclusion of the true story of the Dyatlov Pass incident."
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