Mysteries Of The Mountains You've Never Heard Of

For some, mountains may be a picturesque backdrop to everything from landscape paintings to beer cans. Meanwhile, quite a few other people like to travel into various mountain ranges across the globe for various adventures ranging from simple day hikes to multi-week camping trips. The vast majority of those trips are perfectly straightforward and go just fine. Indeed, many mountains are beautiful, wild places that, with the right preparation and level of respect for the environment, can spell a wonderful trip for you and your fellow adventurers.

But, every once in a while, strange things happen on the mountain. People go missing, odd noises can be heard, and there are occasionally strange lights flitting about in the sky. And some mountains seem to be magnets for this sort of stuff, with eerie and wild tales dating back many years.

Is it all a matter of suggestion? Are visitors riling themselves up with these stories? Or, is there something else going on? All we really know for sure is that some mysteries are still left unsolved, not to mention the fact that there are quite a few out there that may genuinely surprise you. These are mysteries of the mountains you've never heard of.

The Valley of the Headless Men is terrifying

Nestled in Canada's Rocky Mountains in the remote Northwest Territories province, this valley doesn't just sport a terrifying name but a haunting backstory as well. As Fodor's reports, getting there is already pretty difficult, given that you can only make your way to the Valley of the Headless Men in Nahanni National Park by boat or plane. That's ominous enough, but wait until you hear the stories that gave the notorious valley its name.

Explorers have long been cautioned to stay away from the region with vague references to vanishings and bad ends. Reportedly, brothers Frank and Willie McLeod ignored the warnings and set out to explore the wilderness anyway in 1904. They survived and, likely emboldened by their first trip, set out again in 1905. Only, this time, they never emerged from the Nahanni mountain range.

Charlie McLeod, their brother, eventually went looking for them in 1908, only to find their headless skeletal remains in the valley. The creek by which they lay became known as Headless Creek. As the years went on, others met similar fates, including a prospector named Martin Jorgensen in 1917. If you believe the legends and some documented police reports, even the Mounties have found a few beheaded remains. It seems as if many more have walked into the mountains and simply never returned. That's not even including the spate of plane crashes that earned one section of the mountains the name "Funeral Range."

No one's identified the Brown Mountain lights

If you're ever in North Carolina and looking for a particularly spooky evening, you may want to consider making your way to the Pisgah National Forest. That's where, near Morgantown, you'll see the eerie and as-yet unexplained phenomena known as the Brown Mountain Lights.

According to local NBC affiliate 10News, the lights have been spotted floating about and above the mountain near Morgantown for centuries. Yet, despite all that time and some serious observation, few are sure what exactly is causing the strange sight. Some go so far as to say that they're the spirits of departed indigenous people who are wandering or even fighting long after their earthly deaths. Others, seeking a more mundane solution, suggest that it's a combination of atmospheric phenomena and far-off headlights, campfires, or other light sources. Some believe that it may even be ball lightning, an apparently rare and notoriously difficult-to-record weather event (via Winston-Salem Journal).

Unlike some other unexplained sightings, the Brown Mountain Lights have been captured on film many times. A research team at nearby Appalachian State University has even made some progress on studying the lights, says UNC-TV, though no one's settled on an official explanation just yet. For many, the fact that the Brown Mountain Lights have stymied even science professors, not to mention generations of witnesses, makes the mystery all the more eerie.

The Untersberg has captivated many curious people

In the Alps, there's one mountain in particular that's garnered a creepy reputation for many, many years. Situated near the border between Germany and Austria, the Untersberg is both a popular natural tourist attraction and a source of quite a few creepy legends and mysterious tales. According to Mysterious Universe, not one but two medieval leaders supposedly wait beneath the mountain. They're said to be 12th-century Holy Roman emperor Frederick Barbarossa and Charlemagne, the latter of whom is also said to be hanging out with a bunch of dwarves.

Though you may rightfully be skeptical of such legends, it's hard to deny that there's something weird about the Untersberg. Quite a few have reported seeing strange objects flying in the sky around the mountain, while others report the unsettling phenomena of missing time, where they realize that there are minutes or even hours suddenly unaccounted for during their trip to the mountain. Hikers have even said that they've come across whole settlements that simply weren't there on the return trip.

But most disturbing may be the numerous disappearances associated with the Untersberg. Some people simply go off and never come back, leading many to believe that the unfortunate travelers simply fell or succumbed to the elements and died on the mountain. But odder still are the ones who return with little or no explanation as to where they went or how they came back home.

Antarctica has a hidden mountain range beneath the ice

Mountains are kind of hard to miss. Whether they're the dramatic peaks of the Rockies and the Alps or the gentler slopes of the ancient Appalachians, it's generally pretty easy to understand when you're in the middle of an entire mountain range. But, then again, you're probably not in Antarctica right now. Antarctica is full of pretty identifiable mountains, including the volcanically active Mt. Erebus that looms on the horizon near McMurdo Station (via Smithsonian Institution). But one of the most mysterious features of this already pretty surprising continent is the fact that it hides an entire mountain range beneath the ice.

Those would be the Gamburtsev Mountains. According to National Geographic, they were formed sometime around 250 million years in the past, when a rift valley opened up in the continent and brought forth the mountains. Today, the peaks measure up to 15,000 feet high, though they also happen to be buried beneath about three miles of ice. Oh, and they seem to have been formed on top of an even older range of mountains that came about between 1.1 and 1.8 billion years ago.

While the image of a silent mountain range frozen in a massive sheet of 34 million-year-old ice is surely haunting and mysterious, it's also a serious boon for scientists. If the Gamburtsev Mountains hadn't been put into a deep freeze, human scientists wouldn't have had the chance to study them in their largely uneroded form.

Hikers routinely vanish in these Australian mountains

It seems as if a simple hike or camping trip should be pretty easy, right? And, for many people who visit the mountains far to the northeast of Melbourne, Australia, it's probably just fine so long as they bring plenty of supplies and keep their wits about them. But, as the New York Times reports, quite a few people have managed to go missing or meet untimely ends in these mountains, to the point where people today can't help but talk about the mysterious darkness that seems to catch people in the area.

The troubles have been going on for many decades, including the strange double murder of two men over a century ago. Rumors still fly about who killed whom, even today. And then there are all the stories of missing campers, including the pair who disappeared in early 2020, leaving behind a charred campsite and little else.

And then there's the Button Man. Also known sometimes as "Buttons," The Age reports, some say that this seeming recluse (or is he simply taking a summer research trip into the mountains?) may be linked to some disappearances. But others believe he's a relatively harmless bushman who keeps to himself, carves his namesake buttons, and occasionally creeps out campers — but never seems to harm them. Yet, it's hard for many to ignore his connection to the area and maybe those missing campers.

Some claim that Roan Mountain is haunted by a phantom choir

A mountain can get a creepy reputation on ambience alone, between lonely stands of trees, misty vistas, and the eerie, persistent sense that you're being watched. But, surely, the creep factor gets turned up to 11 when you hear a bunch of singers who simply aren't there.

That's supposedly what happens on North Carolina's Roan Mountain. According to North Carolina Ghosts, people as far back as the 19th century have reported phantom voices in the winds whistling past Roan Mountain. The exact nature of the voices was up for considerable debate, with some alleging that they were the voices of angels themselves, apparently needing some choir practice or else just singing as they normally must do in heaven. Others believed that the voices were actually the screams and moans of the damned, somehow wafting up from the depths of hell to a mountaintop in North Carolina. Others even said it was fairies or other non-Christian spirits haunting the region.

Of course, it's worth mentioning that Roan Mountain experiences some serious wind, to the point where the weather has worn holes in the rock. It could be the sound of wind whistling through those formations or, as PBS North Carolina reports, it might even be simple friction and static electricity building up during high winds. Even if you're a skeptic, however, you can't deny that the still-unexplained phantom noises on the mountain are creepy as all heck.

No one's sure how all those people died at Roopkund Lake

It may not be all that surprising to find a human skeleton or two deep in the Himalayas. But what about a frozen lake full of human remains?

That's the mystery of Roopkund Lake, located in a remote region of India that's over 16,000 feet above sea level, per the BBC. And we're not just talking about a dozen or so remains, which would be plenty odd already. Instead, Roopkund is littered with the skeletal remains of anywhere from 600 to 800 individuals. Some believe that these are 19th-century soldiers who attempted to invade Tibet, while others think the lake might be a kind of cemetery. One folk legend maintains that a group angered the goddess Nanda Devi, who sent a deadly hailstorm as punishment.

Studies of the remains have only deepened the mystery. Most of the individuals uncovered at Roopkund Lake are adults, with seemingly no children amongst the scattering of bones. No one seems to have suffered from major health problems. And Nature reports that DNA analysis indicates that the skeletons were actually deposited in three major genetic groups separated by centuries. One group, deemed "Roopkund_B," consists of people with Mediterranean ancestry who died there in the 17th to 20th centuries C.E. No one's sure how they traveled so far from their ancestral homes, and still fewer have raised a solid theory to account for all the deaths at this remote mountain lake.

K2 may be haunted by fallen climbers

While Mount Everest gets all the attention for being the tallest mountain in the world, you'd do well to turn your attention to some of the other lofty peaks of the Himalayas, especially if you're looking for tales of mystery. K2, so named because it's the second-highest mountain on Earth at 28, 251 feet above sea level, is perhaps even harder to climb than the rather packed routes on Everest (via Britannica). It's also arguably at least as deadly and, as a result, carries tales of ghostly climbers who never came down off the mountain.

Those spirits may well include that of Wanda Rutkiewicz, the first woman to summit K2. According to Mental Floss, Rutkiewicz actually survived her 1986 ascent, only to die during a 1992 attempt on the summit of Kangchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world. But a friend reported later hearing Rutkiewicz's ghostly voice calling her over the telephone, saying that she was very cold but that "Everything will be fine."

The third woman to summit K2, British climber Julie Tullis, died descending the mountain in the summer of 1986. Six years later, climbers reported hearing her voice emanating from their radio, calling out to base camp. Yet, as the climbers claimed, no one else was on the mountain at the time — especially not the British woman whose voice they heard.

What happened in the Berwyn Mountains of Wales?

Maybe you roll your eyes at tales of haunted mountains. And it could be that, as tragic as a missing hiker might be, someone getting lost in a remote mountain range isn't exactly beyond the pale for you. That sort of terrain can be exceedingly unforgiving, after all, even for experienced backcountry trekkers. But then what might you say to stories of unexplainable sights in the sky?

If you were in Wales in the 1970s, you might just have experienced something that you couldn't quite explain. That's because, according to the BBC, the Berwyn Mountains on the evening of January 23, 1974, were host to what some claim was no less than a crashed alien spacecraft. People reported seeing a bright light falling from the sky into the mountains.

However, the tales have been met with skepticism. An official investigation by Britain's Ministry of Defense found nothing (though conspiracy theorists would expect as much). And scientists now speculate that the fireball spotted by so many people may have been a meteor disintegrating in the atmosphere. Yet, others remain convinced that a truly odd occurrence happened that winter night, to the point where some refer to the mysterious mountain incident as the "Welsh Roswell."

Australia's Black Mountain is full of strange stories

Sometimes, it's easy to think that the words "Bermuda Triangle" get misused quite a lot. Sure, a location may be pretty mountainous or remote, but that's not necessarily a given that untoward numbers of hikers, climbers, and other adventurers are going to get lost in the wilderness around a certain spot. And, even if a place does have a few missing people in its past, it could be that we're just focusing on the stories of people who have likely had unfortunate accidents deep in a mountain's backcountry. But, if you ask anyone around Australia's ominously named Black Mountain, the moniker actually fits.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the indigenous name for the mountain is actually Kalkajaka. Local clan members say that it was once a battlefield with serious spiritual implications, including tales of battling giants and black and white cockatoos. They also claim that such a spiritually serious place is best left alone, meaning that all those climbers on the mountain are risking substantial harm by mucking around in just such a place.

Some may scoff at that, but, as Atlas Obscura reports, there are plenty of tales of people who have simply disappeared around the place. One account even maintains that an entire herd of cattle once went missing there amidst the steep and harsh terrain. Others flying overhead have reported odd readings and malfunctioning equipment in the vicinity.

Who is the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui?

Visitors to the Cairngorms mountain range in Scotland may experience a bit more than what they bargained for. Sure, they might anticipate cold conditions, high winds, and some scrambling over rough terrain, but a huge, gray specter? Well, they might expect it now, thanks to the legend of the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui. The story seems to have begun in the late 19th century, when a mountaineer reported a feeling of being followed, including the ominous sound of footsteps taken from a far larger stride than his own. "There is something very queer about the top of Men MacDhui," he later said.

Most tales of the Big Grey Man seem to center on an eerie, unseen presence that stalks people on the mountain, though some have wondered if there really is some sort of giant creature or ghost wandering the lonely paths in this spot in the Scottish Highlands. Per Skeptoid, one man even shot at a gray specter that loomed up in front of him, to little effect. But it all may well have been a phenomenon known as a Brocken specter, a visual illusion that can occur when bright sunlight, steep angles, and misty conditions converge to create an elongated shadow of a hiker. That may well be the best explanation for the Big Grey Man, though we still dare you to visit Ben MacDhui and see for yourself.