Dyatlov Pass Incident

EnolaGaia

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what the red `F‘s indicate
The "F" annotations were added by the Russian site that hosted the modified photo labeling the 4 bodies. (No - I don't have the site address at hand; I may have cited it years ago earlier in this thread.)

That particular site emphasized comments from the later (May 1959) search / recovery party that there was evidence of a substantial snow-slide at the den / ravine site. This alleged snow-slide flowed from left to right (down into the ravine / gulley) as viewed in the first (scene overview) photo I posted above. The "F" annotated arrows were added to illustrate the snow-slide's direction of flow.

This purported snow-slide could have occurred anytime during the 2 - 3 months between the incident and the discovery of the den / ravine site.
 

AlchoPwn

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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.

This image is subject to some interpretation. When I look at it, I see a snow cave that the 4 bodies in the brook were likely using as their entrance point. It is frantically unlikely that anyone would simply dig directly down into the snow to build a snow cave, as that creates all sorts of problems and impracticalities. It simply isn't how it is done, unless there are no embankments to use, and little alternative, as one would wind up effectively digging oneself not so much a snow cave as a hole, with the distinct possibility of being buried in it. The far more normal procedure is to start on the side of a slope or embankment, and to dig in, in much the way one would expect a cave to be formed on the side of a cliff in nature. The subsequent photos clearly demonstrate that there was more than enough snow to crush and bury everyone. What none of the photos show, but I have seen elsewhere is the disposition of the bodies, with one of the woman crushed and buried half-way into the entrance on at the embankment near the brook.
 

EnolaGaia

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What none of the photos show, but I have seen elsewhere is the disposition of the bodies, with one of the woman crushed and buried half-way into the entrance on at the embankment near the brook.
The 3rd and 4th photos I posted earlier today ARE the photos of the four bodies' disposition - in situ down in the stream bed, as found.
 

EnolaGaia

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An interesting - if somewhat cursory and occasionally inaccurate - retelling of the basic story.

For the record ... A number of the photos included in this presentation are not photos from the doomed trip. This wasn't the first such trek that Dyatlov had organized and led, and some of the photos are definitely from the earlier trips.

The most interesting photo in this presentation is one I've never seen before - the photo of 3 guys and the tent in a rolled-up condition being either spread out or packed atop a set of skis. Here's the photo:

Tent-Rolled-on-Skis-SMALL.jpg

This illustrates how the tent was deployed atop the trekkers' skis so as to provide a sort of foundation for the floor. In the last clear photo on the doomed party's recovered film(s) the trekkers are digging a pit into which the tent will be erected, and all their skis are vertically arranged in the snow. This photo shows how the skis were subsequently deployed in erecting the tent. It also shows where their skis were at the time they left the tent.

I'm confident this photo is not from the fatal 1959 trip, because:

(1) I cannot definitively match any of the 3 guys in this photo with a 1959 trekker at the time of the last camp preparation.

(2) I believe the rightmost person is the same (clothing and face) as someone shown in a group photo from one of Dyatlov's earlier expeditions.

(3) This photo does not appear on any of the contact sheets from the recovered 1959 film rolls.

(4) The final day's tent pit digging was done under blowing snow conditions and failing light. This photo shows no active snowing conditions and daylight. It cannot be a photo of the tent being laid out at the end of the final day (in which they arrived atop the pass) after they'd finished digging out a place for it.
 

Eponastill

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I was listening to this (I didn't know anything about the story before)
and it struck me that if they were using a stove in the tent (a 'modified stove' according to the podcast) - could it have been carbon monoxide poisoning or something similar? That would make you pretty disorientated and confused, and might lead you to want to get out as fast as possible? Perhaps it's been suggested somewhere in these 29 pages of discussion and if so I do apologise. (I will now read them anyway).
 

AlchoPwn

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I was listening to this (I didn't know anything about the story before) and it struck me that if they were using a stove in the tent (a 'modified stove' according to the podcast) - could it have been carbon monoxide poisoning or something similar? That would make you pretty disorientated and confused, and might lead you to want to get out as fast as possible? Perhaps it's been suggested somewhere in these 29 pages of discussion and if so I do apologise. (I will now read them anyway).
A good idea Eponastill, but the stove was not in use on the night in question according to the reports. I read it was found stowed. It also wouldn't account for their subsequent bizarre behavior, as they could have simply aired the tent and re-entered it, rather than wandering downhill to die.
 

EnolaGaia

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A good idea Eponastill, but the stove was not in use on the night in question according to the reports. I read it was found stowed. ...
That's right ... The stove was discovered in its broken-down packed / travel configuration. It had not been hung inside the tent on that final night. A single substantial chunk of wood (presumably fuel) was also found, but accounts vary as to whether the wood was found inside the stove or lying elsewhere.
 

Kondoru

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Ugh.

A few years back it was a cold morning and I lit the wood stove.

I felt ill, -headaches, dizziness and lethargy.

I wanted to go to bed again and sleep it off but I had promised to go to Dads for my dinner; ten minutes walk.

So I set out.

By the time I got there, (probably by the end of my street) I felt much better.

Its a good thing I didnt go back to bed, isnt it?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My point is, if they were suffering from CO poisoning, by going outside, like as not they would have recovered very quick...But it might explain my why they abandoned the tent
 

Mythopoeika

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Ugh.

A few years back it was a cold morning and I lit the wood stove.

I felt ill, -headaches, dizziness and lethargy.

I wanted to go to bed again and sleep it off but I had promised to go to Dads for my dinner; ten minutes walk.

So I set out.

By the time I got there, (probably by the end of my street) I felt much better.

Its a good thing I didnt go back to bed, isnt it?

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My point is, if they were suffering from CO poisoning, by going outside, like as not they would have recovered very quick...But it might explain my why they abandoned the tent
That is a possibility.
However, the stove was still packed away. Maybe they just lit up a log?
 

EnolaGaia

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That is a possibility. However, the stove was still packed away. Maybe they just lit up a log?
Nope. No sign of fire at the final tent site. They'd used a campfire / fire pit outside the tent on at least some of the earlier days' encampments.
 

Kondoru

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Why re open the case?

Or is it sinister soviet shenanigans?
 

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Don't know if this has been posted before - lengthy BBC article from December last year by a reporter who travels to the Urals & speaks to family members, Mansi people, Russian investigators.

The Russian prosecutor general's office are apparently reopening the case.

Also a radio broadcast. From the world service.
Thanks, Hunck, that overview introduces details I had either never come across or had forgotten. I am particularly struck by the existence of a prison camp nearby. The Gulag housed both political prisoners and criminal convicts, and the regime encouraged the latter to terrorise the former: if you feel like you must have the sordid details, Solzhenitsyn is your man, although be warned he will make you realise that in fact you don't want the sordid details.

Dyatlov's group of young intellectuals in good odour with the Party would have embodied much that the criminal fraternity would have found anathema. It's certainly not inconceivable that a number of the latter might have taken the opportunity to enact their grievances should one have arisen. Much more likely, in any event, than the scenario posited upthread of a party of vengeful drunks pursuing the group for days.
 

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...if you feel like you must have the sordid details, Solzhenitsyn is your man, although be warned he will make you realise that in fact you don't want the sordid details...
Solzhenitsyn's account had the obvious advantage of being first hand, but I also had that same feeling after reading Anne Applebaum's, Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps.

I felt like I should bleach my brain afterwards.
 

Victory

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Hypothermia can cause irrational behaviour. I have read stories of people stuck high on Everest hypothermia causes them to feel hot and they take their clothes off.
 

EnolaGaia

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The Express article is a mishmash of inaccurate information. Here are two additional early tabloid-style reports on the latest pronouncements which are more coherent:

https://nation.com.pk/11-Jul-2020/i...-century-old-mystery-of-dyatlov-pass-incident
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...rs-skiers-victims-hypothermia-NOT-aliens.html

All three news stories contain inaccurate information about the Dyatlov party's trekking objectives and details of the scenario.

Here are the few things I think I can reliably tell from these journalistic messes ...

The final cause of death for all the trekkers is now claimed to be hypothermia. This was the conclusion in 1959, so that's not new.

The "fear of avalanche as motivation for abandoning the tent" isn't new, either. It was proposed back in 1959. Investigators on the scene back then ruled out an all-out avalanche because there was no evidence of an avalanche at the scene. More recently, several knowledgeable parties (e.g., mountaineers; backcountry experts) proposed a more modest "snow slip" scenario involving a localized "mini-avalanche" at the tent site. It appears to me this snow-slip theory is still in play and may have been adopted by the latest investigation.

The only new element I see in these butchered accounts is the idea that the party evacuated the tent and attempted to shelter against an imminent avalanche at a rocky "ridge" only a few dozen meters from their tent. There are in fact exposed rocky outcroppings and depressions downslope from the tent site, but these aren't high enough to be more than "humps." In any case these humps were buried beneath the snowpack at the time of the incident.

I'm at a loss to figure out where this alleged "ridge" was located.

I can only hope a more lucid account of the latest investigation's findings will be forthcoming. It's difficult to correlate some of the alleged findings with the evidence documented (even with photos) from 1959. For the time being I'm presuming the "disconnects" are the fault of the reporters who assembled these curiously off-the-mark articles.
 

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The Express article is a mishmash of inaccurate information. Here are two additional early tabloid-style reports on the latest pronouncements which are more coherent:

https://nation.com.pk/11-Jul-2020/i...-century-old-mystery-of-dyatlov-pass-incident
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...rs-skiers-victims-hypothermia-NOT-aliens.html

All three news stories contain inaccurate information about the Dyatlov party's trekking objectives and details of the scenario.

Here are the few things I think I can reliably tell from these journalistic messes ...

The final cause of death for all the trekkers is now claimed to be hypothermia. This was the conclusion in 1959, so that's not new.

The "fear of avalanche as motivation for abandoning the tent" isn't new, either. It was proposed back in 1959. Investigators on the scene back then ruled out an all-out avalanche because there was no evidence of an avalanche at the scene. More recently, several knowledgeable parties (e.g., mountaineers; backcountry experts) proposed a more modest "snow slip" scenario involving a localized "mini-avalanche" at the tent site. It appears to me this snow-slip theory is still in play and may have been adopted by the latest investigation.

The only new element I see in these butchered accounts is the idea that the party evacuated the tent and attempted to shelter against an imminent avalanche at a rocky "ridge" only a few dozen meters from their tent. There are in fact exposed rocky outcroppings and depressions downslope from the tent site, but these aren't high enough to be more than "humps." In any case these humps were buried beneath the snowpack at the time of the incident.

I'm at a loss to figure out where this alleged "ridge" was located.

I can only hope a more lucid account of the latest investigation's findings will be forthcoming. It's difficult to correlate some of the alleged findings with the evidence documented (even with photos) from 1959. For the time being I'm presuming the "disconnects" are the fault of the reporters who assembled these curiously off-the-mark articles.
I've also had issues reconciling the photos of the area with theories that some of the injuries were sustained when three of the group fell of a nearby "ridge" into the stream where they were found, downhill of the tent.

If you were concerned about an avalanche, wouldn't you move to the side, instead of going towards and especially sheltering downhill?
And the three didn't get swept into the ravine by a snow slip, as it seems there shelter was found nearby, and no mention of it being swept away or disturbed.

And I know slopes (like waves) are hard to really capture on film, but the photos don't seem to show a high or steep enough slope anywhere around for them to fall down and cause the injuries, with the snow that would've been there if there at the time, especially if was a threat of avalanche. (the photos were in the spring, when the snow had melted and you could see the "ravine" where the last three bodies were found.
 

Victory

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The Express article is a mishmash of inaccurate information. Here are two additional early tabloid-style reports on the latest pronouncements which are more coherent:

https://nation.com.pk/11-Jul-2020/i...-century-old-mystery-of-dyatlov-pass-incident
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...rs-skiers-victims-hypothermia-NOT-aliens.html

All three news stories contain inaccurate information about the Dyatlov party's trekking objectives and details of the scenario.
I googled the incident after reading the article in the hope of finding a more academic announcement of the new report.
I could not find a scientific journal or broadsheet newspaper reporting on it.

I believe it is not possible for the new report to conclude the trekkers left the tent in panic because of avalanche, merely that they left in a hurry.
The cause of their panic might have been noise from weapons testing, or something else.

[Or, as @EnolaGaia writes below, they did not leave in a panic at all.]
 
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EnolaGaia

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... If you were concerned about an avalanche, wouldn't you move to the side, instead of going towards and especially sheltering downhill? ...
Yes indeed ... The only height from which a significant avalanche could have come would have been the mountain peak overlooking their tent site. The most obvious direction one would move in to evade an avalanche from that source would be back the way they'd come earlier that day (i.e., roughly eastward; along the ridge they'd surmounted on that day's trek).

The footprint trail clearly demonstrates the party descended down-slope from the tent, on a direct path into the valley below. There is mention that some footprints occasionally diverged from the main set, but they didn't diverge far and they always led back to the others. By and large all the victims tended to walk in the footprints left by the person(s) preceding them.

The footprints were traced as a single group path from the tent down-slope for approximately 1000 meters. There was no mention of any apparent stops or lateral group movements one would expect if they'd been trying to shelter on the slope itself.

One or more of the 3 initial news items claim the victims ran. The 1959 investigators (including experienced trackers) noted there was no indication that the footprints were made by people who were running. The evidence and their interpretation indicates a relatively sedate or careful descent from the tent site into the valley below.

When the search party located the tent site circa two weeks after the presumed fatal night they examined the scene and the lead investigator (Ivanov) even climbed to the top of the overlooking peak. His report explicitly stated there was no evidence of an avalanche on the mountain peak per se nor below it at the tent site or the slope down which the party evacuated.
 

EnolaGaia

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I googled the incident after reading the article in the hope of finding a more academic announcement of the new report..
I could not find a scientific journal or broadsheet newspaper reporting on it.
Same here ... I was unable to locate any online documentation of this new announcement other than the 3 news items cited above.

I believe it is not possible for the new report to conclude the trekkers left the tent in panic because of avalanche, merely that they left in a hurry.
The cause of their panic might have been noise from weapons testing, or something else.
As noted above (and multiple times earlier in this longstanding thread) the footprint evidence doesn't support any notion there was "panic" in their manner of descent into the valley. The scope of any "panic" is limited to:

(a) (under some interpretations) the manner in which they exited the tent itself, and
(b) their motivation for abandoning the tent site, but not the manner in which they left it.
 

EnolaGaia

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One relatively novel aspect of the new investigation's claims (at least as they've been reported to date ... ) is an emphasis on disorientation owing to whiteout conditions.

There's no question there was significant wind and snow circa 1700 the preceding afternoon when they pitched the tent. The photos clearly demonstrate that. There's also high confidence that the weather (especially wind and plummeting temperatures) worsened on the presumed fatal night (see earlier posts from years ago with the meteorological data).

However ... It's not clear whether the near-blizzard conditions under which they pitched the tent persisted through the night (or at least to the time when they evacuated the tent site). We know there would have been fierce winds and deep cold, as corroborated by the Shumkov party on Chistop miles to the east.

As such, my first point is that we don't know whether there were whiteout conditions in effect or not.

My second point is this ... Even if whiteout conditions were in effect, how did the party not know the direction in which they evacuated was down into a valley where they'd not yet been? How could all of them - as a group - fail to recognize they were descending from the ridgeline and descending in the direction opposite that from which they'd come (and in which their cache lay)?

I've no problem believing there were visibility problems, and I've no problem believing visibility issues may explain why they ended up as 3 separate clusters in the valley below. In contrast, I have a problem believing they were disoriented with regard to where they were heading when evacuating the tent site.
 

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Interesting... I didn't think about white out conditions, and you may be underestimating how disorientating they can be.

I was skiing in the Rockies a long time ago, and once, the top of the mountain was in cloud. Going down, at times, I couldn't even tell if I was moving, never mind going up or down. (Really, even when I knew down was the only option, I couldn't tell!)

And from what I remember, I could probably only see on or two of our group of 5 at a time, as I was concentrating so hard on keeping one person who knew the hill in front of me so I didn't go over a cliff or get off the run and get lost.

I've also been driving in blizzards where the snow in the headlights creates the illusion of moving through a tunnel, even if the car isn't moving forward.

Perhaps, if they pitched the tent and the wind was blowing, say, down the mountain, then, while they were inside, the wind direction changed? When they bailed from the tent, (for whatever reason) they were confused as to direction and in a panic, went downhill instead. Panic made them initially overlook they were running downhill until it was too late. And got separated. Each group camped at the nearest tree line, and could only figure out where the tent was and their mistake once the storm passed and daylight broke. By then, they were too weak from cold and injuries* to make it back.

Of course, this explains none of the other conundrums involved, such as the scope of above mentioned injuries, or why tent was cut, and crucial clothing, footwear and supplies were left behind, but the footprints indicate they didn't run?

I can't conceive of a natural phenomenon that would cause them to abandon the tent in such a panic that they would leave without their boots, but not shows signs or traces, while footprints week(s) old were clear enough to indicate bare/socked feet?

What if it wasn't an external factor that made them flee the tent? Maybe a serious fight broke out, due to the harsh conditions and the earlier mistake that left them in that shitty situation, where they couldn't use the stove for warmth?

It would explain some injuries, like the skull fracture and bruised knuckles, and possibly broken ribs some of the men had. The others freaked out, couldn't control the fighters, and had to cut their way out. They wouldn't have fled down the mountain immediately, (hence no running footprints) but once the fight petered out, or they got too cold and sought shelter away from the brawl. They realized the tent was ruined, the group split into factions, and they sheltered in the closest, best spots downhill, because there really isn't a big risk of avalanche in the first place.

The injuries of those in the ravine really were from falling into it at a later time, once they had been sheltering away from the tent for a while. The ones found seemingly making their way back to the tent may've been the ones fighting, and they tried to go back and get supplies to bring the group back together again, because they realized they really effed up.
 
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