I would never completely discount the theory of an avalanche with the information we have , because obviously something very unusual happened that night. Otherwise, the mystery would have been solved very quickly. I am, however, very skeptical of it being pushed as the official explanation without acknowledging that there are problems with the theory. And there are problems with it, just as there are problems with other theories. Of course, something happened. But I suspect that this theory is attractive to the powers that be because it places the fault completely on the group itself. They set up the tent on the slope. They caused the conditions that led to the avalanche. It wasn’t even nature. The students engineered their own destruction.
They could have. It’s quite possible, even with all the experience they had. The one thing that can never be factored out of any equation is human error. But I don’t think I’m being too conspiratorial to point out that there is a self-serving quality to the authorities embracing the theory so whole-heartedly, which may be the reason they do so rather than it being as set in stone as they want people to believe. It places the blame on dead people, who can’t defend themselves, and no one else can really do so without a shadow of doubt cast on whatever argument they may bring up, (I.e: footprint evidence).
In that vein, here are a few things to keep in mind regarding the avalanche theory. The injuries that the hikers sustained are part of the evidence of a slab avalanche at the tent, and are in fact, one of the strongest pieces of evidence for such an event. Once you start arguing that such injuries could have happened elsewhere, like at the ravine, you’ve weakened the theory logarithmically. The injuries the hikers suffered were not typical of avalanche victims. That’s why it didn’t hold up in 1959. However, the slab avalanche allows for a scenario in which the students would have been caught between the floor of the tent, which had been hardened by being leveled and having backpacks or something placed down in a way to fortify it, and a small, but heavy shelf of snow hanging over the tent that would just come down in a single, catastrophic event, a slab rolling off a weaker layer beneath.
Such conditions would not exist, if say, they had dug out the snow den at the ravine and it had collapsed on them. They could never have gotten the ground so packed and the snow would not have caved in on them in the same way. So we end up again with avalanche victims exhibiting injuries very unusual for avalanche victims and no explanation for why, whereas the slab avalanche provides that explanation. And the medical examiner had said that Luda and Semyon’s injuries would have happened in the same cataclysmic event and were unlikely to be the result of a fall. It had to be something that caused greater internal pressure than external pressure, like being crushed between a slab and a hard floor. Plus, even if they had both fallen in the ravine at the exact same time, it’s very unlikely they would have hit the bottom in the exact same way.
Here’s the problem. Slab avalanche happens. Semyon and Luda, at least, would have been injured. Nikolai’s injuries, however, could have been caused by a fall, as long as it wasn’t a mere stumble. So let’s say he fell at the ravine. They carry Luda and Semyon down the hill, make a fire, and then go dig out a snow den. How long would that take? Twenty minutes. Does twenty minutes sound reasonable? Any less than twenty minutes. That’s a lot of work for twenty minutes.
Why am I making a big deal of this? Because that’s all the time the medical examiner gave for Luda to survive from the time she sustained her injuries. So, if it took longer than twenty minutes to dig their injured companions out of the tent, carry them down the hill, make a fire, go dig a snow den with their bare hands presumably, and prepare the floor with tree clippings and discarded clothing, it means they carried a dead body to the den and placed her in it instead of laying Luda out next to Yuri and Krivo. And that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Now, maybe they weren’t sure she was dead (rather unbelievable, but not impossible, I guess). Or maybe she was injured. But then something else happened at the ravine that further injured her, and that’s what drastically reduced her life expectancy. Possible, yes. It’s also speculation that can’t be proved and nothing in the study or the slab avalanche theory bolsters it in any way that speculation in other theories are not bolstered. That’s why I believe the theory is being made to look for better than what it actually is.
Secondly, the possibility of one avalanche occurring is astronomically high. So when people suggest that another could have been triggered by the first, they need to get a better understanding of the situation, because they’re thinking like the students were in the alps. The authorities are suggesting a single, localized event that’s centered at the tent because that is the only type of avalanche that could have happened at that location and the snow would have only rolled maybe a few feet down the hill from the tent. It would not have triggered another avalanche, and once you get in the trees, they anchor the snow in place, making it even more improbable that an avalanche would occur. It’s more likely than meeting BigFoot, in my opinion. But that’s about all I can say for the theory.
And, honestly, if all that happened is one small, localized avalanche, I don’t know why they would have taken so long to return to their tent. How long would you wait around on a frigid night in barely any clothes if, say, ten minutes had passed and nothing else occurred? Yet, the evidence seems to suggest that Igor, Rustem, and Zina didn’t try to return to the tent until their situation had got really desperate.