In 1959 Russia, nine college students go missing in a remote mountain pass… their mutilated bodies are found two weeks later. Now, it’s 2014 and a Discovery Channel research team goes to the remote location to uncover the secret behind these deaths that occurred over 55 years ago. This is how the Discovery Channel’s compelling special documentary “Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives” begins, which airs tonight at 9/8 central.
So, what is this program exactly about?
Claims have been made that the hikers were caught in an avalanche or encountered mysterious lights in the sky. Some experts believe it is much simpler than that and the group of college friends were victims of hypothermia. Others think the attack occurred at the hands of a local indigenous tribe known as the Mansi. One last theory persists that the hikers were victims of the elusive Russian Yeti.
Using circumstantial evidence based on an actual Russian incident, the documentary follows American world-class climber and explorer Mike Libecki, while he investigates the hiker’s case. Along the way, he is assisted by the beautiful Maria Klenikova, who is a television journalist and producer. She will serve as Mike’s translator.
Known as the Dyatlov Pass incident, Mike and Maria examine photos of the bodies from the Ural Mountains’ recovery site. The images are gruesome and the details of their condition are disturbing and unexplained.
Mike and Maria take most of the program to research evidence, look at KGB files and photos, interview experts and witnesses and visit a cave in Siberia where sightings of a mysterious creature have been frequent. They even pitch a tent inside the cave in hopes of encountering, what the locals have dubbed, a yeti. Hearing sounds, Mike journeys out of the tent leaving Maria alone to search the cave. He finds a fresh and unoccupied… nest. Maria hears an unfamiliar cracking sound and screams. Hearing her cries for help, Mike comes to her rescue. She is unharmed.
Eventually, the pair wind up at the “Mountain of the Dead” where the doomed hikers met their end. In an effort to lure the yeti into the open, Mike and Maria recreate, albeit poorly, the conditions that supposedly occurred on that fateful evening in 1959. They hang a dead pig on a tree, while hiring a local hunter to stand guard. During the night, all of them hear repeated howling in the woods coming from some creature… possibly the yeti. While traipsing around the forest in search of the creature, they discover a dead deer. As learned from uncovered evidence and other investigators, the animal’s tongue has been ripped from its mouth. Anxiously, the hunter urges them to leave. As for the pig, it remains untouched. The next day, Mike and Maria return to Moscow and part ways.
In the aftermath, the howling cannot be linked to any known animal. The audience will be left hanging and wondering why the program spent all this time in order to culminate with this mysterious sound recording. One would hope for something more substantial. Cutting itself slightly above Matt Moneymaker’s “Finding Bigfoot” show, the program gives a thin explanation of the link between man and the yeti and no hardcore physical evidence as to the existence of the creature by the research team. Mike Libecki is hardly the right person to look at crime scene photos and ignores other theories which seem more plausible. In other words, the yeti is on his mind as the cause of this calamity and he is determined to find this unknown animal while holding the audience hostage. Entertaining as it is, it leaves viewers with more questions than answers. Is it ratings week again?
“Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives” airs this evening at 9/8 central.