Dyatlov Pass Incident

Denion

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The reasons why I think the avalanche escape exercise is another dead end.

First:

The group was tired.

Excerpt from the Dyatlov group diary entry penned down on January 31st:

I can't even start thinking of setting up a storage. It's close to 4. We have to start looking for a place to pitch the tent. We are going south in Auspiya river valley. This apparently is the place covered with the deepest snow. Wind is not strong, snow cover is 1,22 m. Tired and exhausted we started the preparations for the night. Not enough firewood. Frail damp firs. We started fire with logs, too tired to dig a fire pit.
This sounds absolutely nothing like a guy who has an ice cave surprise for the very following day. This sounds like a guy struggling to make ends meet and running out of steam.

On the last day, they only traveled 2.5 miles -- during a heavy snowfall which probably made the ascent very tiring and challenging. From the last pictures taken, the weather bordered on a snowstorm. I believe the last thing in their mind was preventing a good sleep with a pointless exercise -- only to stymie their progress even further.

Second:

They hated sewing up the tent! Hated it. They fought over who's gonna do it. It was already pretty shoddy and the worst possible thing they could have done would be deliberately cutting it ever worse not even halfway through the trip. If they even planned something as outrageously unintelligent (hiya!) as the above-outlined exercise, it made much more sense to do it on their way back. And especially, only conduct it if they're ahead of their schedule and feeling well.

Third:

While being ready in any case and having a couple of scenarios automated is probably a good idea, the way of achieving it is likely not a random tent-cutting, down-the-slope scurrying one-time festival. To my mind, if you wanna be prepared for an avalanche, you prepare yourself for an avalanche by setting up the tent so you don't have to cut it and having at least the basic accessory ready to go at all times. You practice by keeping everything as to minimize the potential damage; not by inflicting the maximum damage on yourself by pretending you have been hit by an avalanche unprepared. Such an exercise just makes no sense whatsoever. As a matter of fact, it's suicide, and they were well beyond smart enough to realize this.

Fourth:

I doubt anyone was in a state, physical or mental, to even come across such an idea. But even if any of them were such a sadist/masochist, I can't see the rest of them going with it. Not all. Not at all. And don't give me the 'it was the Soviet Union, so who knows' mantra.

Dissent was as strong part of the Soviet Union as was obedience. Don't forget that the Soviet Union was a result of revolution.

Fifth:

If anything like that was planned/normally conducted, both authorities and Yudin would have raised this question a long time ago.

Sixth:

It was cold. There are temperature maps dating back to 1959 covering the area which were already posted here:

Click to enlarge:

DPI-TempMaps3101-0302.jpg

Seventh:

My gut goes hee hee ha ha.
 
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Krepostnoi

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Some interesting counter-arguments. I do take issue with this point, though:
Dissent was as strong part of the Soviet Union as was obedience. Don't forget that the Soviet Union was a result of revolution.
That's possibly exactly why the Soviets were so intolerant of dissent post-October 1917. Just ask the Kronstadt sailors who'd been in the forefront in 1917. Or, you know, the countless millions killed in the camps. Many of them were probably amazed to find they were dissidents.
 

Denion

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Some interesting counter-arguments. I do take issue with this point, though:
That's possibly exactly why the Soviets were so intolerant of dissent post-October 1917. Just ask the Kronstadt sailors who'd been in the forefront in 1917. Or, you know, the countless millions killed in the camps. Many of them were probably amazed to find they were dissidents.
Right? But it was there. And my point is that not all the Soviet citizens were at all times blindly obeying everything ordered by someone just because they stood higher in some sort of Soviet command hierarchy. Definitely not in a near-life scenario and among college kids. I just can't imagine Igor saying "and now, avalanche escape exercise everyone!" and everyone scared into marching around him in a parade. And I can't imagine him threatening he will cause them trouble back home. If he was this kind of jerk, nobody would accompany him anywhere to begin with.

You can bet there was a lot of "wash your feet, you stink!" and "get f----d Igor!" exchange going on. They were college kids. I don't think there was any sort of true power he had over them. More like, responsibility and probably a fair share of authority/respect he somehow earned.
 

stu neville

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Even experienced outdoorsfolk get caught out sometimes.
True. It's not well appreciated by many that the British climate is in fact very dangerous as it seems so benign. We have a lethal combination of damp and an almost permanent breeze, especially on higher ground, which together wick the heat from your body far quicker than cold air alone. Its apparent innocuousness makes people think they can go for a stroll on the moors on a spring day with just a light fleece, a flask of coffee and the GPS on their phone. They hit fog, or drizzle, and that's it until mountain rescue have an awkward conversation with the family a few days later - but as you say this can happen to the professionals, too, difference being they tend to know what to do about it and are generally prepared. Obviously different climatic challenges between Siberia and Dartmoor, but the result can be just the same.
There are all kinds of wild theories about what happened --from secret weapons tests to katabatic winds and yetis.
The Yeti - or Menk - one was made up entirely. We covered it a while back. Do wish Discovery would stop queering its own pitch in this manner.
 

Mikefule

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The reasons why I think the avalanche escape exercise is another dead end.

First:

etc.
This is this forum at its very best. First one member put forward a carefully reasoned and plausible argument for a possible explanation. Another member then put forward an equal and opposite argument. Both were well argued, well expressed, based on some knowledge of the source material, and — importantly — good natured in tone.

I have no particular view on one explanation or another, and we will probably never know, but I enjoyed reading both sides. Thank you.
 
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