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.
 

XEPER_

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I've listened to the Audible edition of Dead Mountain as well as various podcasts, and read a bit about the case too.
I see a couple of you think they left the tent because of bad weather, which apparently had been getting worse.
If they knew that, why would they not sleep in the tent with all their clothes on, boots included? Ready to move at any moment?
To me, something terrified them beyond rational thought or they'd not have destroyed their tent by cutting it apart.
Let's say this was some hostile presence, human, alien, yeti, whatever. It scared them so badly they left the tent, but they were not too scared a while later to broadcast their position by lighting a fire.
That suggests they knew the danger had a)passed, b) was a natural threat like wind so wouldn't come after them or even c)had been non-existent and imagined.
But I read yesterday that some of them had injuries consistent with being in a fight, and one guy had bitten skin off his own finger sometime during the night.

A normal fight between tent-mates would not cause such blind panic as we see here but maybe one of them had been telling tales about yeti (we know they spoke about it as it was in a diary IIRC), scaring some of the group, then a noise was heard outside the tent perhaps from an animal. Imagination ran wild, some of them panicked and cut their way out of the tent and tried to find the yeti by walking around, essentially shouting "come ahead then!" into the night.
Then reality set in, they couldn't get back in the complete pitch black and some fell down the slope and a fire was attempted.
A fight broke out with some enraged at the guy who had been telling ghost stories and he, feeling guilty and knowing he was dying, lay in the snow and gnawed his fingers in anguish.

Apologies for how stilted my post is in places, I'm writing it on my tablet which is a bloody pain in the arse
 
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AlchoPwn

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I've listened to the Audible edition of Dead Mountain as well as various podcasts, and read a bit about the case too.I see a couple of you think they left the tent because of bad weather, which apparently had been getting worse.
If they knew that, why would they not sleep in the tent with all their clothes on, boots included? Ready to move at any moment?
To me, something terrified them beyond rational thought or they'd not have destroyed their tent by cutting it apart.
Allow me to answer that, as I have a theory that I think ticks all the boxes. Firstly, the tent wasn't in great condition, and had plenty of holes, but there were new ones cut in it in a hurry. Second, the slope where the tent was parked was in no danger of an avalanche, but the behavior is consistent with people cutting their way out of their tent to escape an oncoming avalanche. Third, they walk down the mountain, not run. Next they freeze to death, while others are crushed under tons of ice when their snow cave collapses. So what happened?

Part of why they party was up in the Urals was to qualify as the highest grade of hikers in the USSR testing system, and that means training. What happened was a training exercise gone wrong. There was no danger of an avalanche; they cut their way out of the tent to simulate their capacity to evacuate in a hurry, and they walked down the mountain, as there was no danger of an avalanche, and they needed to test their cold weather survival skills. Some opted for making a fire, but it wasn't enough. There were recriminations and they came to blows, but ultimately Dyatlov himself headed back up the mountain to retrieve the tent, but he didn't make it. The people in the snow cave were also very unlucky. When you dig a snow cave, you shouldn't make it too big or it may become unstable and collapse. They dug a 4 person snow cave, and it caved in.

If you look at the series of events in other ways, you are still left with unanswered questions. This answer covers everything. As for the supposed UFO sighting? It was a Russian test rocket re-entering the atmosphere.
 

henry

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is there a precedent for exercises being conducted this way ?

is this how tent became torn/stitched, over prior simulations ?
 

AlchoPwn

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is there a precedent for exercises being conducted this way ?
You are actually the first person who has asked me this. TBH it just seemed too logical, but IDK, and that is a very reasonable question.
is this how tent became torn/stitched, over prior simulations ?
Again, IDK, but there was a lot of wear and tear on the tent that had gone unrepaired, and was obviously from previous hikes. The tent was stitched together from two smaller tents, that I do know.
 

Shady

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Was it torn from the outside at all?, and it would have been better for them to remain fully clothed and in the tent surely
 

henry

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but to be taken seriously it has to fit in with the known and accepted methods of the times, presumably there was an apparatus for grading at what you call the highest level of hiking ... this ought to have been published and still available somehow
 

AlchoPwn

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but to be taken seriously it has to fit in with the known and accepted methods of the times, presumably there was an apparatus for grading at what you call the highest level of hiking ... this ought to have been published and still available somehow
I agree. No doubt the info exists. Maybe I will be able to find it some say, but it will probably require some serious hunting, as while I am fluent in quite a few languages, Russian isn't one of them. I barely even remember the Cyrillic character set and there's only a couple of letters that aren't the same as the Roman alphabet.
 

henry

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isnt this where that guy normally chips in with the intel, enola gaia
 

brownmane

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Enola has done a lot of research on this topic. I spent weeks reading this entire thread when I joined the forum.
 

brownmane

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Was it torn from the outside at all?
That's one of the difficult questions to answer. From what I understand, because the hikers were not looked for and found until several (2?) weeks later and the tent had been covered by snow and people finding the location and tramping all over and in it before others were notified to inspect the scene, it is almost impossible to determine what damage was done to the tent when and how.
 

AlchoPwn

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That's one of the difficult questions to answer. From what I understand, because the hikers were not looked for and found until several (2?) weeks later and the tent had been covered by snow and people finding the location and tramping all over and in it before others were notified to inspect the scene, it is almost impossible to determine what damage was done to the tent when and how.
From what I have read, that is one of the few unequivocal pieces of evidence. While there are plenty of rips in the tent, none was big enough to allow a human being to slip thru it, except for ones that were cut from within. The site investigators were able to determine at least that much.
 

feinman

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That's one of the difficult questions to answer. From what I understand, because the hikers were not looked for and found until several (2?) weeks later and the tent had been covered by snow and people finding the location and tramping all over and in it before others were notified to inspect the scene, it is almost impossible to determine what damage was done to the tent when and how.
That's a problem; no way to tell if they cut small holes to look out at something.
 

EnolaGaia

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Allow me to answer that, as I have a theory that I think ticks all the boxes. Firstly, the tent wasn't in great condition, and had plenty of holes, but there were new ones cut in it in a hurry.
The much-emphasized rips in the tent fabric were relatively straight and "clean", and this is part of the speculative (I emphasize "speculative") basis for the longstanding meme that the party cut their way out of the tent.

The other element motivating this cutting meme was a seamstress's comment upon seeing the recovered tent on display that the frayed threads along some of the rips seemed to bend outward as if something had cut the fabric from within.

If she'd been examining the tent upon its discovery this might have been informative, but ... She didn't see the tent until it had collapsed, been partially buried by snow, been excavated and moved by the search party, folded up who-knows-how-many times, transported, unfolded, examined who-knows-how-many times, and finally draped over chairs and hung up for display in a heated building days later.

The tent was already at least two years old, assembled from 2 smaller tents of unknown vintage and condition. It had been subject to tears earlier in the fatal trip, as illustrated by diary entries describing arguments over who would fix them. Dyatlov's own ski jacket was discovered stuffed into a hole or tear near the tent's entrance - strongly suggesting that hole had opened after they pitched the tent that last time.

The notion of the tent being cut from within is pure speculation that has been widely promoted as if it were established fact. It isn't. Those same linear tears could have resulted from wind damage as the well-anchored tent was buffeted by the severe winds known to have hit on the presumed fatal night.

We don't know how long the tent remained upright before the windward end collapsed, so we don't know (as is universally assumed) that the tent had collapsed as of the time the party abandoned it for the valley below.

We also don't know how many of these famous tears occurred later - during discovery and recovery. The two searchers who first discovered the tent explicitly stated they'd cut their way into the collapsed end of the tent with their ice axes when they first found it.
 
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EnolaGaia

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... Second, the slope where the tent was parked was in no danger of an avalanche, but the behavior is consistent with people cutting their way out of their tent to escape an oncoming avalanche. ...
The tent site was on a slope upon the mountain's northeastern flank. The mountain's summit loomed above, and it was heavily covered in snow pack (as illustrated by search party photos 2 weeks later). There was no continuous downward slope from the summit to the tent site (there was an intervening hump or bump), so the tent site was no more than marginally in danger of a major avalanche from above. The search party records clearly stated there was no evidence of avalanche(s) at the tent site.

However ... None of this precludes the possibility of a snow-slip (shifting mass of snow) at the tent site itself. Even though there's no reason to believe a widespread avalanche occurred, it's still entirely possible the snow immediately up-slope from the tent slid onto it at some point. The degree of slope at the tent site is significant enough for this to have occurred.
 

EnolaGaia

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... Third, they walk down the mountain, not run. Next they freeze to death, while others are crushed under tons of ice when their snow cave collapses. ...

... The people in the snow cave were also very unlucky. When you dig a snow cave, you shouldn't make it too big or it may become unstable and collapse. They dug a 4 person snow cave, and it caved in. ...
Well, no ... The snow den didn't collapse on the 4 victims found at the den site. All four were found in the "ravine" (a steep-sided gulley with a brook) mere steps from the snow den's entrance. Their injuries were attributed to the fall (of circa 2 - 3 meters) into the ravine, the crushing from the bodies' piling atop each other, the crushing effect of a major snow load accumulated atop the bodies, and predation.

The records don't ever mention the snow den having collapsed. There was no clear evidence the snow den had been occupied after being constructed.*

*NOTE: Some of the bodies recovered from the nearby ravine were laid out and photographed in the excavated snow den after recovery, and this has given some commentators the false impression the victims died in the snow den.
 

RaM

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The Unexplained files on Quest 9pm last Fri had quite a bit about it but cant find it on catch up.
 

AlchoPwn

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That's a problem; no way to tell if they cut small holes to look out at something.
The age of most of the holes would suggest there was no need to cut fresh ones for such a purpose.
 

AlchoPwn

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Well, no ... The snow den didn't collapse on the 4 victims found at the den site. All four were found in the "ravine" (a steep-sided gulley with a brook) mere steps from the snow den's entrance. Their injuries were attributed to the fall (of circa 2 - 3 meters) into the ravine, the crushing from the bodies' piling atop each other, the crushing effect of a major snow load accumulated atop the bodies, and predation.
There were four of them found pretty much on top of each other, with one of the women found halfway out of the pile. Is it really too much of a leap to suppose that the ones who were buried were inside the snow cave, and the woman bumped the roof on her way in and collapsed on top of it all? The predation occurred later of course, and after they were all dead.
The records don't ever mention the snow den having collapsed. There was no clear evidence the snow den had been occupied after being constructed.*
This completely disagrees with what I have read to date.
 

EnolaGaia

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There were four of them found pretty much on top of each other, with one of the women found halfway out of the pile. Is it really too much of a leap to suppose that the ones who were buried were inside the snow cave, and the woman bumped the roof on her way in and collapsed on top of it all? The predation occurred later of course, and after they were all dead. ...
They weren't found in the snow den / cave.

Here's the evidence from the search / recovery party that discovered the den and ravine scene over 2 months later, excavated it, and recovered the bodies.

First - here's the search party photo illustrating the den / ravine locale as excavated.

Den&Ravine-Ovue.jpg

Second - here's a search party photo showing the snow den / cave as excavated.

DenScene-Excavated.jpg

Third - here's the search party photo of the 4 bodies found lying in the brook / creek within the "ravine" (gulley) just a few feet from the snow den.

DenVictimsAsFound.jpg

Finally - here's an annotated version of the bodies photo identifying who's who.

Den-Bodies-Labeled.jpg
 

henry

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what the red `F‘s indicate
 
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