It won an Oscar, spawned a franchise, and became one of the highest-grossing films of all time. But Disney’s Frozen now has a new distinction, one that few (if any) other animated features can claim: it has played a decisive role in the investigation of a morbid adventure mystery.
The story begins in the winter of 1959, when nine experienced mountaineers — eight students and one sports coach — set off on a 200-mile hike through Russia’s Ural Mountains. When they failed to return, a search party went to investigate the site of their last camp. The investigators found the tent largely buried under snow and the nine corpses scattered around the area, some with gruesome injuries.
The Soviet authorities ascribed the Dyatlov Pass Incident, as it came to be known, to an “unknown natural force.” But the grim details of the case fired imaginations and spawned countless theories: murder, Yetis, alien abduction, and secretive military experiments were all blamed. The debate never went away, and in 2019 Russian prosecutors launched a new investigation. They concluded that an avalanche was mostly responsible for the deaths.