Dyatlov Pass Incident

EnolaGaia

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Welcome to the forum, Denion!

Hey guys, I just wanted to say that reading this thread up until June 2014 was a thrill! Quite comfortably the best thread on this topic, anywhere, with many, many good thinkers.

I have also come to the conclusion that extreme and overwhelming cold and consequently bad decisions were the main culprits of the tragedy.
As you've probably seen from reading up until June 2014, that's been my preferred explanation, too.


"At the same time, there still remains one question. Why did they leave for the valley instead of descending back to the cache where they knew for certain they had enough firewood to start and maintain a steady campfire?

I'm not that well-versed in map reading and distance judging. Was the cache point further away from the tent than the cedar tree area?
I agree ... It's curious that they elected to descend into the fatal valley (where they'd never been) rather than descending back the way they'd come, where they knew their cache was located.

The cache ('labaz' as labeled on some maps and illustrations) was farther away than the tree area into which they descended. The bodies' locations were circa 1.5 km from the tent. The cache location isn't clearly indicated or consistently designated on annotated maps, but it would generally seem to have been at least 2 km away.

Another factor to consider is that the tree line to which they descended was visible from the tent site, but the downslope area in the direction of the cache was not. They would have had to cross back over the pass / ridgeline to start descending back toward the cache.

The ascent had clearly proven to be more time-consuming and / or difficult than they'd originally expected. They were tired and under duress. My guess is that the day's ascent experience left the impression the cache was farther away in terms of distance and effort than the treeline they could see in the other direction (below the tent site).
 

EnolaGaia

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If not, does the fact they decided for the seemingly uncertain route down the slope to the alley hint at knowing that some of the group were already there because they had abandoned the tent earlier? (A natural guess would be the two shod men.)
That's one possible scenario. Thibeaux-Brignolles (shod; found at the 'den site') was an experienced backcountry trekker and guide. If anyone questioned the wisdom of setting up the tent in such an exposed position, I think it would have been him. There's even one of the ascent photos that shows T-B discussing something with Dyatlov, and they both appear to be serious. I've often wondered whether that photo captured a moment of debate or even argument.

If there had been disagreement, maybe T-B and one other person were sent to construct a snow den in advance of the others. This may have happened before any drastic events occurred at the tent. While they were gone, the conditions became catastrophic (e.g., the tent collapsed), and the others descended earlier than planned. The advance party and later party / parties failed to link up in a timely fashion, because the advance party wasn't expecting everyone else to descend until they signaled the den was ready.

However, there's a problem with the 'well-dressed advance party' theory. There was one path of footprints leading downslope. The investigators noted one set of footprints seemed to overlay any / all others, and it was presumed these footprints belonged to the person with the longest stride (i.e., the tallest member of the party). This was originally claimed to be Doroshenko (unshod; found at the campfire site). However, the autopsy results indicate T-B was actually the tallest one in the group.

None of the original documentation I've seen indicates whether this last person's footprints were shod or unshod. Because of this, I've never been able to decide who was the last person off the mountain. It makes a difference in which scenarios are plausible.
 

EnolaGaia

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Also, what are everyone's time estimates?

I believe that if the temperatures really did drop below -50 °C, without a heat source, already freezing, through the dark for the most part, the descent itself must have taken them at least 20 minutes. After my own experience with extremely hostile conditions and temperatures between -30 and -40 °C, I'm convinced they, the badly shod and insufficiently clothed bunch, had about an hour of life ahead of them. And probably not even that.
I don't have any overall estimates to offer. I'm not certain the descent occurred during the night as everyone assumes, and there aren't enough solid clues to determine how many sub-groups descended in what sequence.

The investigation report stated there were no signs of rushing or hurrying in the footprints. Given the demonstrated weather conditions, this might simply mean they couldn't move any faster even if they'd wanted to hurry.

It was circa 1.5 km to the treeline downslope. I'm guessing it took most if not all the folks circa 30 minutes minimum to descend under the adverse conditions - especially for those in an unprepared and probably degraded state.


Which further reaffirms my guess that the two shod men had walked down the valley quite some time before the rest of the party followed, as digging the dent probably took much longer than assembling firewood for that desperate attempt at campfire under the cedar tree, yet all of the tourists besides the cedar tree duo appear to have died at approximately same time. (If we concede their last meal was the one they shared together up on the slope. And of course, the three on their way back to the tent still had their last attempt at a climb ahead of them, but I believe those were their last minutes.)
I have no problem seeing this as _a_ possible scenario, but I can't claim this is clearly _the_ scenario.
 

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Thank you for all the answers EnolaGaia.

This is such a mind teaser!

While we will never know for sure, I believe we still have enough pieces to try and fit them together in a way that clicks more than the other explanations, all if's and maybe's notwithstanding. One of the crucial points is to

  1. Realize they had to overcome an extreme temperature dip (a lot of people interested in this case do not realize it even happened)
  2. Fully understand what such cold does to your body and how quickly

I think the investigators along with students really messed up on the scene. We don't have enough convincing evidence on whether there was, or there was not any firewood in the tent/stove, which is really important. If we accept the official line of the stove being unused and in its transport-ready state, we can assume they did not plan to use it, or that they planned to use it elsewhere. Presence of firewood would make it clear whether they did not use it because they could not, or because they considered it unwise / planned to use it elsewhere instead.

It's important because it would hint at their line of thinking and their plans. Without further exploring more what-if's associated with the stove, I'll complain about another topic.

Another part of the evidence I consider very unclear is the den and ravine scene. How big it was? How deep it went? These are all crucial points.

I have been growing convinced the SINGLE descent actually did take place at night. Because:

1) The battery-dead flashlight dropped around 400 meters down the slope
2) The fact they had not used the stove suggests they could not have made it through the night given the extreme temperatures that probably dipped the lowest around/shortly past midnight
3) The final meal estimates (if we accept the line they all last ate shortly after they had set up the tent for the last time)
4) The fact they took so little with them does not hint at multiple descents and even shows they were somewhat blinded

The fact the group did not descend back towards their cache again reinforces my opinion that Thibeaux and Zolotaryov left the tent earlier. If we stick with the scenario of the party leaving the tent by the time their boots and clothes were frozen into a rock hard -- hence useless state, we recognize that by the time the last of the group left, they realized the situation was critical and life-threatening, and they were striving for warmth.

The only explanation for taking the uncertain route to the valley instead of the cache (where they knew a dry and ready firewood awaited) suggests they believed having a better chance to survive in the valley / a duty towards someone who they knew was already there.

This leads me to believe that Thibeaux and Zolotaryov left the tent to prepare the terrain down in the valley so the rest of the party could pack up and move the camp later. Given that Thibeaux and Zolotaryov were at least originally fully occupied with digging the den which appears to have been built as a shield against the wind, it seems that by the time they were leaving the tent and all the while during their descent and all that time it took them to dig up the den, the wind was the main concern, and that the party considered the wind a threat to their tent/well-being but not necessarily a threat to their lives. It seems the progress of the trip was still in their mind and the self-preservation instincts had not kicked in just yet.

A hole in this theory seems to be... Why would the group not work on dressing up and putting their shoes on in the meantime? Why would they still leave the tent so unprepared and with so little clothing? Was the wave of cold that sudden? These things do happen, especially in the mountains, but still, I would expect them to wear more than a few pairs of socks each had they planned to go down in advance. Their backpacks appeared ready, but we don't know how much unpacking had been done past 5 pm.

The fact they left with so little suggests that while Thibeaux and Zolotaryov might have left some time ago, perhaps the rest of the party did not plan to abandon the tent as well.

I figured some of the cuts in the tent may have actually been attempts to make the frozen canvas easier to fold and transport. I could also imagine the collapse of the tent was a part of the attempt to pack it up -- but why leave all the stuff inside?

Another thing I fail to grasp is this: They were smart and experienced. If they found some of their clothes rock-hard frozen and their boots so cold they would have made their feet even colder, and if their own fingers were so numb they lost most of their soft motor skills, why did it not hit them to sacrifice some of their gear, set it on fire, unfreeze their boots, take them on and continue down the valley? If the cold was so bad it forced them to march down almost barefoot, why did it not hit them to use some of the fabric and ski poles and skis as a fuel? They could have gained some extra hours of life. Just burn the goddamn tent, Igor!

Why did they not take at least their backpacks with them?

And here we are full circle... Considering all this, were they really leaving on their free will (or just forced by the power of nature?)

I imagine that once they reached the cedar tree, they must have realized the fire and warmth was the absolute priority. Still it appears the effort they took was somewhat "lukewarm". Were they already losing their wits?

What drives me nuts the most are the pictures of the ravine. They are so vague, one absolutely can not determine whether a "free fall" into it could have resulted in such horrific injuries. Crushed skulls and ribs? Deformed neck? Internal bleeding?

I could probably imagine them committing suicide once they realized the cold was too much and they were gonna die a painful death anyway, but from what I see, the so-called ravine looks nothing like a place four adults could just free-fall into at a time. It looks so small and narrow and shallow too... as if they had to be literally squeezed in there. It looks like a place one would use to hide cadavers.

I keep being confused about the case, no matter from which angle I approach it.
 

EnolaGaia

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... This is such a mind teaser!
Isn't it? ... I find such stories resulting (almost certainly) from bizarre / unexpected chains of events far more fascinating than arguing over whether a light in the sky is an extraterrestrial spaceship (etc.).


While we will never know for sure, I believe we still have enough pieces to try and fit them together in a way that clicks more than the other explanations, all if's and maybe's notwithstanding.
Agreed ... I've sketched several possible scenarios over the years, but I've avoided committing to any of them (there's always something that doesn't quite fit) or posting them to disrupt the general discussion.


One of the crucial points is to
  1. Realize they had to overcome an extreme temperature dip (a lot of people interested in this case do not realize it even happened) ...
Agreed ... There's sufficient historical meteorological data to illustrate the sudden incursion of deeply frigid air in the region at exactly the time of the disastrous night. It's even corroborated by the testimony of the folks from the so-called 'geologist's party' on Chistop (mountain; several km eastward) the same night.

This other party similarly involved experienced winter trekkers. The group on Chistop is typically mentioned only in relation to seeing one or more lights in the sky that night. Nobody bothers to mention the rest of their report - plummeting temperatures, vicious winds, and fleeing to a lower elevation in fear of their lives. Similar people; similar elevation / exposure; similar situation - this is about as good as 3rd party testimony can be.


I think the investigators along with students really messed up on the scene.
Agreed ... The first two searchers on the scene were acquainted with Dyatlov. They admitted they *cut* their way into the tent to see what / who might be inside. To the best of my knowledge no one ever bothered to specify which holes the searchers cut in the abandoned tent. If I'm not mistaken, there's not even any testimony from the first searchers on the scene as to whether the tent was already ripped when they first discovered it.

Another problem is that the investigators didn't take detailed photos of the tent as it was found. It would be critical to know which lines were run to what anchor points in erecting the tent.

As I've mentioned earlier in this thread, Dyatlov usually erected the tent among trees, so that the tent's ridge was supported by lines securely anchored to their trunks. As I also mentioned (and provided illustration(s) for ... ) Dyatlov had a protocol for using the skis and / or ski poles as surrogate props and anchors for holding the heavy tent erect when it was set up in an open space.

It is clear they were using this 'out in the open' protocol when they erected the tent that last time - during a snowstorm and with winds that would only get stronger during the coming night.


We don't have enough convincing evidence on whether there was, or there was not any firewood in the tent/stove, which is really important. If we accept the official line of the stove being unused and in its transport-ready state, we can assume they did not plan to use it, or that they planned to use it elsewhere. Presence of firewood would make it clear whether they did not use it because they could not, or because they considered it unwise / planned to use it elsewhere instead.

It's important because it would hint at their line of thinking and their plans.
I accept the consistently stated claim there was a single substantial 'log' or 'chunk of wood' inside the stove - mainly because I don't have any reason to doubt it.

It's important to bear in mind that Dyatlov's stove wasn't for cooking. It was for heating the tent's interior during the night. The stove was designed to be suspended off the tent's canvas floor, hanging from a line that ran from the front to the rear center / main poles.

They couldn't or wouldn't use the stove if the tent had already collapsed, because of the risk in setting the canvas floor on fire. Unless the tent was erected, the stove would not have been used inside it.
 
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EnolaGaia

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... The fact the group did not descend back towards their cache again reinforces my opinion that Thibeaux and Zolotaryov left the tent earlier. If we stick with the scenario of the party leaving the tent by the time their boots and clothes were frozen into a rock hard -- hence useless state, we recognize that by the time the last of the group left, they realized the situation was critical and life-threatening, and they were striving for warmth.

The only explanation for taking the uncertain route to the valley instead of the cache (where they knew a dry and ready firewood awaited) suggests they believed having a better chance to survive in the valley / a duty towards someone who they knew was already there.
If I understand this correctly ... You're saying the remainder of the party (everyone except T-B and Z) did not consider evacuating back toward the cache because they would be abandoning T-B and Z (who were already down in the Lozva valley where they all died).

I can easily agree with the notion T-B and Z left the tent and descended into the Lozva valley first. In fact, this is a key component of my preferred set of hypotheses for the sequence of events.

I do not think a retreat to the cache was prevented solely by a desire to avoid abandoning T-B and Z. I suspect there was probably a plan being executed, with T-B and Z serving as the advance party.

If the group had any intention to get to the cache, they could have greatly accelerated their descent southward if they skied rather than walked.

Unfortunately, all the skis were underneath the tent. They would have needed to take down the tent to get to the skis, and that would have wasted precious time.
 

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Search59-8a.jpg

I could never understand the extreme contrast of snow depths from these two sides of the ravine; uncharacteristic of the south slope simply receiving more sunlight. Anyone have an explanation?
 

EnolaGaia

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I know what you mean ... There are multiple factors that may contribute to an explanation ...

This photo was taken at the time the 'den' and the final four bodies were discovered and recovered. This discovery occurred on May 4 - circa 3 months after the presumably fatal night. In other words - spring was underway, and some thawing / melting was in process.

There are many illustrations and maps illustrating the general area and where the bodies were found. The tent location and the cedar location are pretty consistently depicted on these graphics. The den location isn't as consistently designated as the others.

My interpretation is that this photo was taken from the other side of the brook / creek near the den, facing roughly southward upslope toward the pass's ridgeline (i.e., looking toward a point on the ridgeline east of the main peak and tent site, perhaps closer to where the party summited the pass, and most probably even farther east along the ridgeline).

Given the slopes illustrated, the bare slope in the foreground had been relatively exposed to the southern sky (and the spring sun), whereas the snow-blanketed slope had been relatively sheltered from direct sunlight.

The wooded area extending out of frame to the right is the wooded area to which the party fled from the tent.

When searchers discovered the tent circa 2 weeks after the presumably fatal night, they stumbled upon the cedar / campfire site when looking for a place to set up a sheltered long-term camp. The first searchers on the scene remarked that this wooded area was not an effective shelter from the prevailing winds (which would have blown from right to left in the photo).

The collapsed tent you see in the search party photos is sitting in a lot less snow than was present when Dyatlov's party erected the tent circa 2 weeks earlier. The slope leading from the tent down to the trees had been significantly scoured by winds. This much is evident from the search party photos, including the photos of the footprints.

The wooded area (off to the right in the photo above) would still have served as a passive wind break, and the prevailing westerly winds would have understandably dumped airborne snow around that area. This, combined with being a relatively sheltered area north of the pass, makes it understandable the den site area would get a deep snow cover during the winter months.

Because the den wasn't discovered until early May, there had been something like an additional 2.5 months during which more snow could have built up in the valley.

Finally ... The tall edge of the snow mass in the photo isn't all snow. There's a relatively steep bank beneath it. The depth of the overall snow mass isn't as much as the mass's edge suggests. It's deeper where the snow mass ends - i.e., in the 'ravine' (the brook's / creek's bed).
 

Fahrenheit 451

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Remote viewing of the Dyatlov Pass incident at 29:21 - fascinating when you consider that the viewers don't know the target. I would recommend watching before commenting. The Farsight Institute has a number of other fascinating topics for those that enjoyed this.
 

Denion

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@EnolaGaia Sorry about the delay, especially considering how brisk your answers are, but I will be getting back eventually.

For now, I'll just post this (in case somebody missed it), which seems like the most detailed description of "the ravine" I have dug up so far, with a dozen of recent photos.

https://dyatlovpass.com/ravine-alekseenkov-and-kan?lid=1

EDIT: I especially recommend watching the listed videos, as they have definitely put certain things into perspective for me. This one not only provides a peek at the ravine from the den perspective, but also a walk up the slope of snowy Kholat.

 
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Remote viewing of the Dyatlov Pass incident at 29:21 - fascinating when you consider that the viewers don't know the target. I would recommend watching before commenting. The Farsight Institute has a number of other fascinating topics for those that enjoyed this.
I watched the same video a few days ago but hesitated to post it for various reasons. Thanks for bringing it up!!


EDIT: I especially recommend watching the listed videos, as they have definitely put certain things into perspective for me. This one not only provides a peek at the ravine from the den perspective, but also a walk up the slope of snowy Kholat.
I had a little trouble without english subtitles. Can you point out the den location in the video? And the cedar which I understand is still there. EDIT: I'll try sorting through the data on your URL to find my answer. ;) Really wish there were videos that would fade in from the old photographs to the current day video.
 
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EnolaGaia

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@EnolaGaia Sorry about the delay, especially considering how brisk your answers are, but I will be getting back eventually.
No problem ...

EDIT: I especially recommend watching the listed videos, as they have definitely put certain things into perspective for me. This one not only provides a peek at the ravine from the den perspective, but also a walk up the slope of snowy Kholat.
I like the video of the climb back up the slope to the tent site. It does a good job of illustrating how exposed the tent site was, how steep the slope was, and how far the party had to go to descend into the valley below. The video also gives a sense of how daunting the climb back to the tent would have been, and it demonstrates how desperate Dyatlov and the other two must have been to even attempt it.

These little contextual factors are difficult to recognize in the vintage still photographs.
 

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I had a little trouble without english subtitles. Can you point out the den location in the video? And the cedar which I understand is still there. EDIT: I'll try sorting through the data on your URL to find my answer. ;) Really wish there were videos that would fade in from the old photographs to the current day video.
The site says you get a view of the bodies' location from the den perspective between 00:05 and 00:35.

Unfortunately, I only understand very little Russian. Definitely check out those other videos as well, they help to frame and re-frame the overall picture, as they were shot during spring/summer.

EDIT: There's a couple of links on that page pointing to some Russian forum with a couple of pics that seem to do precisely what you wish for:

http://russia-paranormal.org/index.php?topic=4361

Unfortunately, unless you read AZBUKA, it won't be a thrilling read, the pics themselves are telling though:



(I thought I originally inserted this pic, but maybe not. If I did and it's some sort of copyright infringement, sorry about doing it again, I just wasn't sure :comphit:)



I like the video of the climb back up the slope to the tent site. It does a good job of illustrating how exposed the tent site was, how steep the slope was, and how far the party had to go to descend into the valley below. The video also gives a sense of how daunting the climb back to the tent would have been, and it demonstrates how desperate Dyatlov and the other two must have been to even attempt it.

These little contextual factors are difficult to recognize in the vintage still photographs.
Me too. I would only like to know what those different sets of red flags are supposed to mark.

I'm used to walking up much steeper hills and slopes, so Kholat does not strike me as particularly steep and complicated, but from the little Russian I comprehend, I believe even the author of the video points out that cold, panic, dark and simply not knowing the terrain too well all contribute to the overall trickiness of the situation.

On the other hand, these people were at their physical peak and they were fighting for their lives. It would have been tough but still doable. And Zina got pretty close (well...)

Having reread the autopsies and especially after looking at the ravine parameters more closely, I'm becoming convinced there had been some type of physical altercation that really made things harder for all of them.
 
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If the remote viewers were right and this relates to a crash or failure of a Soviet test project (over a remote area) it's fair to assume that the cover up started very quickly - so the evidence as recorded is compromised - sadly this renders forensic analysis somewhat pointless (but fun).
 

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If the remote viewers were right and this relates to a crash or failure of a Soviet test project (over a remote area) it's fair to assume that the cover up started very quickly - so the evidence as recorded is compromised - sadly this renders forensic analysis somewhat pointless (but fun).
That's why it will be interesting to watch what the new investigation leads to, as the case has been officially reopened for two weeks.
 

EnolaGaia

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... I would only like to know what those different sets of red flags are supposed to mark. ...
My *guesses* are as follows ...

The 3 places with red flags encountered on the way up-slope are supposed to represent the relative locations where the bodies of Dyatlov, Slobodin, and Kolmogorova were found (in order).

The yellow flag, of course, marks the relative location of the tent site (where these guys set up a re-creation of the collapsed tent).
 

EnolaGaia

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About the video and my theory the 3 red flags represent the final resting places for Dyatlov, Slobodin, and Kolmogorova ...

Because the video is taken from the perspective of someone trudging up-slope, the slope itself is foreshortened - making it difficult to assess the relative distances between the flags. The video's stops and starts don't break the continuity of the hike up to the third red flag location. Then there's a break and the cameraman is suddenly at the tent site.

To give an overview for what (I believe) the video was trying to portray, here (below) is (what's supposed to be) the original sketch made by the search party and investigators on the scene.

NOTES:

- The snaky dotted line represents the tree line.

- The 'Cedar' site is at the lower left (the tree figure), circa 70m inside the tree line.

- The 3 X's represent the resting places for Dyatlov, Slobodin, and Kolmogorova (in that order heading up-slope).

- The areas with the smudgy / shaded lines represent the areas of the search party probing.

- The dot between 400 and 450m down-slope from the tent is the location of the cast-off flashlight.

- The trail of footprints is not shown on this sketch. This trail presumably lay within the bounds of the rectangular searched-area extending 1000m downslope from the tent site.

SearchMap copy.jpg
 

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About the video and my theory the 3 red flags represent the final resting places for Dyatlov, Slobodin, and Kolmogorova ...

Because the video is taken from the perspective of someone trudging up-slope, the slope itself is foreshortened - making it difficult to assess the relative distances between the flags. The video's stops and starts don't break the continuity of the hike up to the third red flag location. Then there's a break and the cameraman is suddenly at the tent site.

To give an overview for what (I believe) the video was trying to portray, here (below) is (what's supposed to be) the original sketch made by the search party and investigators on the scene.

NOTES:

- The snaky dotted line represents the tree line.

- The 'Cedar' site is at the lower left (the tree figure), circa 70m inside the tree line.

- The 3 X's represent the resting places for Dyatlov, Slobodin, and Kolmogorova (in that order heading up-slope).

- The areas with the smudgy / shaded lines represent the areas of the search party probing.

- The dot between 400 and 450m down-slope from the tent is the location of the cast-off flashlight.

- The trail of footprints is not shown on this sketch. This trail presumably lay within the bounds of the rectangular searched-area extending 1000m downslope from the tent site.

Yeah, I also noticed the camera cut, but I thought those red flags might have signaled certain distances or maybe even different altitudes. Body locations of course make more sense. There's plenty of interesting material out there, but speaking Russian/reading Azbuka seems essential.
 

EnolaGaia

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Yeah, I also noticed the camera cut, but I thought those red flags might have signaled certain distances or maybe even different altitudes. Body locations of course make more sense. ...
The red flags may have been marking distances or altitudes. The bit about body locations is merely my theory based on watching the video. My basis for that is (as you mentioned ... ) body locations seem to make the most sense without knowing what was being said.

The text notes at the end of the video relate to altitude / elevation, degrees of slope at various places, and some figures about a number of minutes (apparently minutes required to either ascend or descend the slope).

My understanding is that the numbers on the search map (above) represent linear distances along the slope.
 

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EDIT: There's a couple of links on that page pointing to some Russian forum with a couple of pics that seem to do precisely what you wish for:
Wonderful, thank you!!

Having reread the autopsies and especially after looking at the ravine parameters more closely, I'm becoming convinced there had been some type of physical altercation that really made things harder for all of them.
Can you expand please? I've seen both sides of the argument and I'm still torn on whether there was an "unknown compelling force" or not.
 

EnolaGaia

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I, too, would like to learn about Denion's thoughts about an 'altercation'. I'll withhold making any comment about possible altercation(s) in the mean time.

One comment, though, to Human_84:

Please bear in mind that the "unknown compelling force" bit derives from a distorted translation of the Russian legal phrase equivalent to force majeure (e.g., 'act of God'; 'unavoidable accident').

This distortion has long been leveraged to amplify the purported strangeness or degree of mystery people project onto the incident by insinuating there had to be something else or something extraordinary involved.
 

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I hope to finally put my thoughts down during the upcoming weekend, but my opinions keep changing every time I think about it. Dyatlov Pass is such a logical Ouroboros. You always come back to the start.

For now; I've come across another interesting piece of something; a 3D model of the ravine scene.



Check it out if you haven't seen it yet:

https://dyatlovpass.com/vasilii-zyadik
 

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One comment, though, to Human_84:

Please bear in mind that the "unknown compelling force" bit derives from a distorted translation of the Russian legal phrase equivalent to force majeure (e.g., 'act of God'; 'unavoidable accident').
Well put and noted. Then all else aside, could one logically conclude that the injuries found under autopsy were absolutely and entirely conducive to chaotic goings on in this blustery and frigid but otherwise ordinary alpine environment, or not? ie: Could a snow/ice drifting/collapse onto the tent and a short tumble down a "ravine" or other such disorderly mishaps cause a broken skull and fractured ribs?

Conceivable yes, but very improbable in my mind. This is one of the key questions of the Dyatlov case that I mull over. While other details (the tent ripping, the clothing, the ravine) can be picked apart or argued, the fact is the team started their journey without these injuries and sustained them in the final moments.
 

EnolaGaia

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The most severe skeletal injuries were found among the 4 bodies at the den site (in the ravine). The distance and relative force of a fall into the ravine (rocky brook bed) depends on a number of factors we'll never know. Such factors include:

- the snow depth at that particular location at the time

- where, and in what relative positions, the bodies originally came to rest (as opposed to when they were found months later)

- exactly how each of the 4 people tumbled to where his / her body was found

- in what sequence the 4 fell (who first; who last; all together versus some after others)

- how many, if any, of them were subjected to blunt force trauma from another person falling atop them (a point that's almost never mentioned)

Nonetheless ... Generally speaking ...

Yes - the injuries noted in the autopsies for the ravine victims are within the range of plausible damage for a 2 to 3 meter fall onto exposed rocks.
 

EnolaGaia

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... While other details (the tent ripping, the clothing, the ravine) can be picked apart or argued, the fact is the team started their journey without these injuries and sustained them in the final moments.
It's not as simple as comparing the start and end points of the fatal journey. They set out on January 23 by train. On January 24 there was the altercation involving drinking, singing, allegation of stealing vodka, and temporary arrest of Krivonischenko. They made it to the abandoned mining village on the 27th, then spent the next 5 days skiing into the backcountry.

My point is that there were plenty of opportunities to suffer minor injuries (e.g., the superficial abrasions on the hands and other extremities; certain significant bruises) over the several days they were in transit and / or on the trail. The autopsies can only catalog, but not timestamp, the damage.

This is why I've never wholeheartedly committed to the notion there was fighting among the trekkers. The hand injuries in particular are often spun in favor of suggesting one or more fist fights. I definitely tend to think there was growing dissension among some group members during the last 24 hours or so. One or more fights may well have occurred. Because I cannot convince myself such dissension necessarily led to fighting, I've had to leave fisticuffs as an admitted possibility and no more.

On the other hand, I have no doubt the most extreme injuries (skull fractures; hemorrhages; fractured ribcages) occurred during their final hours. In the case of Dubinina, I would say during her final minute(s).
 

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Generally speaking ... Yes - the injuries noted in the autopsies for the ravine victims are within the range of plausible damage for a 2 to 3 meter fall onto exposed rocks.
I suppose if the rocks were exposed, then yes. And the people would've had to be dead as well, otherwise ourdoorsmen/adventurist types would have landed on their feet. Exposed rocks are also evidence of snow melt in the ravine and a wide natural cavity away from the frigid wind gusts that night. Sorry to reintroduce what I'm sure is covered many pages ago, but the maps don't all seem to agree on whether or not the ravine body site is just another name for the den.

On the other hand, I have no doubt the most extreme injuries (skull fractures; hemorrhages; fractured ribcages) occurred during their final hours. In the case of Dubinina, I would say during her final minute(s).
Absolutely. Else it would have been an worth mentioning in the journal.
 

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Nonetheless ... Generally speaking ...

Yes - the injuries noted in the autopsies for the ravine victims are within the range of plausible damage for a 2 to 3 meter fall onto exposed rocks.
From what we've seen of the ravine though, it does not look like a place to free-fall into. They would have rolled down.

The bolded is another crucial part (I haven't seen discussed yet).

As the rest of the ravine and the creek running through it was most likely frozen that night due to days-to-weeks-long temperatures well below zero, we can assume even the lowest part (into which they fell/rolled down) was frozen and thus ideal for the snow to lay thick upon.

I mean... They were found under a snowdrift of 2.5 meters?

In my opinion, they did not fall onto exposed rocks, but rather rocks more or less cushioned with a certain portion of snow, thus their fall/roll-down was not as long and bone crushing as we presume. It ended up looking as if they hit bare rocks because the creek melted come spring which resulted in melting of the snow under and around the cadavers.

Especially Dubinina's body position hints at this. I believe she had originally landed/died/laid on her belly on a much more leveled ground (that would later melt down).
 

EnolaGaia

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...Sorry to reintroduce what I'm sure is covered many pages ago, but the maps don't all seem to agree on whether or not the ravine body site is just another name for the den. ...
The den is the hollowed out snow shelter or snow cave. The ravine is a steep-sided stream bed a few steps from the den.

One general site, two specific locations within it.

Look at the photo you posted in post #727. The dark ovoid spot in the stream bed (dead center in the photo) is the relative location of the bodies as found. Now look up and to the right. The rectangular hole in the ground is what I believe to be the excavated den.
 

EnolaGaia

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... In my opinion, they did not fall onto exposed rocks, but rather rocks more or less cushioned with a certain portion of snow, thus their fall/roll-down was not as long and bone crushing as we presume. It ended up looking as if they hit bare rocks because the creek melted come spring which resulted in melting of the snow under and around the cadavers.
I agree with all this, but there's no way to be certain exactly how it happened. Except for the obvious conditions of snow and probably ice (except maybe within the stream underneath the snow pack) we'll never know what the ground conditions were on the fatal night. The deeper the snow pack, the more likely the stream was still running underneath it - essentially within its own little snow cave.

This last bit is important. Even if the ravine were not exposed on the fatal night, any snow pack covering the stream would have been a trap that collapsed if anyone had stepped onto it.

The 4 den scene bodies spent circa 4 months buried under a deep snow pack. The specific locations and arrangement of the bodies are known as of the time they were found. There's always the chance the bodies moved or were further damaged as a result of the snow pack's weight and / or shifting.

Especially Dubinina's body position hints at this. I believe she had originally landed/died/laid on her belly on a much more leveled ground (that would later melt down).
I agree that the position of her body may not represent the position into which she fell. Indeed, I'd say it most probably isn't her position upon impact / landing. For example, Dubinina could well have been the last of the four to fall into the stream bed - atop the others - and her body slid or rolled off them to the lower / downstream position.

I'm confident Dubinina's ribcage injuries occurred in the ravine. The penetration of her heart by a broken rib was a fatal injury that would have meant instantaneous incapacitation and death within minutes. She's the one who most obviously came from the cedar / campfire site circa 70 - 75 meters away. If she'd already suffered the ribcage blow-out there's almost no chance she could have made it to the den scene.
 
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