Theories Discussion > Deadly Cold Theory

The cold weather notion is likely at least part of the explanation.


In the General forum, I posted this, related to the question, "why did the group split up:"

QUOTE:  ...the thing about this incident is that it's several incidents/decisions [/accidents, etc.] which have at least a few different explanations that are reasonable, and even then, it's possible that a less likely explanation is in fact the case.  So let me take things one at a time.  It makes no sense that the tent was located/positioned where it was, considering how the wind blows down that mountain like an avalanche of air.  We know from the diaries that there was anger, etc. about the tent (which was two sewn together) coming apart at the seams (Igor was demanding that it be sewn better or more completely, but it was a chore the others didn't want to do).  So, it's very possible he was "teaching them a lesson," which would also mean they'd definitely get the Level 3 certification.  Igor was apparently quite courageous, perhaps too much so, and we don't know how much they understood of the dangers involved (particularly hypothermia).

It's also possible that without heat (other than each other), no sleeping bags (very important in these situations), and a tent ripping apart, they came to conclude that it was too cold to survive (I've done a lot of research into mountain climbing and similar situations where things can get deadly quickly), or an ice sheet formed on the side of the tent and that's how the rip/cut started, or they tried to knock such ice off the tent and that's how it ripped.  A good question is why they didn't take the blankets with them, suggesting Igor told them they could survive the way they were.  There is no excuse for leaving the blankets.  The heavy boots and coats may have become frozen and no longer usable, but they were sleeping with the blankets wrapped around them!  I'd guess it was some sort of exercise or even a kind of punishment, and again one wonders if they understood how dangerous things could become within a short period of time.

The tent was likely partially knocked down intentionally (once they were all out) so that it wouldn't blow away, then one of the two flashlights placed on top of some snow that was placed on the tent (so that it wouldn't blow away or the items inside wouldn't blow away).  The plan may have been to go back right before dawn and they'd need to have light, or it may have been designed to be a kind of beacon (for a different plan), but that plan didn't work out because the fire didn't keep them warm enough to survive getting back to the tent.  There likely weren't major visibility problems because they did accomplish a lot and only took the one flashlight, but perhaps sustained some moderate to serious injuries because of the rocky protrusions on the sides of the mountain and of course the "Ravine 4" fell into a depression or crevace type feature that was on top of a creek (with Luda falling directly onto the rocks on the banks and at least one of the guys falling on top of her).

I'd guess the two guys (one being the WWII vet) who were better dressed originally (were they doing "guard duty?") started to dig out the "den"' while the others ripped off branches to lie on (you can't lie on snow/ice under those circumstances without freezing to death) and for the fire (which supposedly was quite robust and lasted 1 to 2 hours).  Yuri 1 might have fallen from the tree and sustained serious injuries, and possibly fell on Yuri 2, meaning they couldn't do as much work at that point, and under those circumstances you have to keep moving to stay alive (there were burn marks on their clothes, which suggests they thought the fire alone could keep them alive).  It seems they did not recognize what happens when you are not dressed properly and you do a lot of work under those conditions.   Your body temperature can drop significantly in a short period of time once you stop moving, and in this case injury may have led to one or both Yuris not being able to do much physically after the fall from the cedar tree.

The WWII veteran apparently had his own idea, based upon what he experienced during the war, but we have no idea if that would have worked since they fell into the creek and got wet or got stuck in the snow, so they were doomed without help.  Who had some unused matches in their pockets is not relevant because once it was clear fire was not going to save them they had to figure something else out to survive.  I think the two better dressed guys came back to the fire area and said something like, "okay the den is ready, so let's take the clothes of the two Yuris and go there to survive the night," but they went slightly off course and fell.

To me the biggest oddity is why were three apparently trying to get back to the tent, since it was clearly not going to be a survivable situation up there?  They didn't have clothing from the two Yuris, except perhaps the vest Igor was found wearing, so it's not likely they started back to the tent after the Ravine 4 started back to the den.  I think Zina may have become very upset at seeing one or both Yuris die, and decided to go back on her own.  Then Slobodin followed, perhaps imploring her to come back, but fell, hit his head, and was knocked unconscious.  Igor sees this and he tries to get her to come back, but hypothermia sets in.

It's also possible Zina and Slobodin were left with the two Yuris and decided to go back to the tent after seeing them die, and also not knowing what was going on witih the Ravine 4 (assuming those 4 were working on digging out the den and that Igor was with the 4).  This would explain why Igor was wearing the vest.  He may have been working with the Ravine 4 and came back to the fire area, saw the two Yuris as well as Zina and Slobodin heading back to the tent, so he grabs a vest and starts out after them to tell them that the den is the only way to survive.

I think if you look at all the evidence that seems solid, there are several reasonable posssibilities, and in fact something similar happened not long before:

...A muddy curtain of bad weather appears on the horizon … We corral into the tent, huddled around the stove, where a faint light flickers a little, casting a pale glow on the gloomy, alert faces of people… from the north a snowstorm approached. And soon everything was whistling around, spinning in a mad whirlwind. Streaks of snowy dust flowed through the frozen slant; snow drifting ominously.

The tent is arched from the pressure of the wind. The stove has gone out. Firewood is over, the cold finds a gap, seeps inside. We are wrapped in warm clothes. It is impossible to fall asleep, but the conversation is not getting better… what will happen if the wind breaks our tent and we find ourselves face to face with a snowstorm on bare rocks, far from the forest?…

A snowdrift piled up heavily on the tent on the windward side, the wall bent dangerously, and soon the rope it the middle broke, unable to withstand the weight… The hanging snowdrift had already taken a third of the site away from us and continued to press from above, bending the crossbar. It was at that moment that a new ferocious squall hit, and the canvas wall broke in half. A mountain of snow fell on us.

Get dressed and go out! – Lebedev orders. A scuffle begins in the twilight, no one can find their belongings, you hear curses. The wind flaps the torn sides of the tent, throwing fistfuls of snow in our faces.
I say, get out! – Lebedev’s voice is heard through the howl of the storm.
Presnikov, you are holding back everybody detain all.
I lost my hat, – he screams back.
Cover your head with a bag and get out! – orders Lebedev, wrapping a rope around himself and passing the end to his comrades.
The snowstorm brings down on us all its might. The chill is blinding the eyes, burns the nostrils. Lebedev is ahead, behind him, holding the rope, the others are walking. Moving almost blindly, it is difficult to get to the slope. It becomes easier to walk, because under your feet the descent and snowstorm are somewhat quieter here. We go at random among the small rocks, along hollows with steep slopes. Obviously, we descend down to the ravine, where there must be a forest, which means there will be a fire. We don’t dream about anything else… Only an hour later, the steepness of the descent broke, the placers and the rocks were left behind. Smooth drifted snow under our feet, slippery as ice … We go down the ravine even lower and notice freshly cut stumps, and then tents are shown. Well done Kirill Rodionovich – how confidently he led us to the camp! And now we are at a great fun bonfire that has given us strength and good spirits. The ropes are untied, there is laughter…

Some pointed out (in another thread) that the group seemed to have been in a hurry to leave the tent, and I would say that's more likely than not.  However, what does that suggest?  The most reasonable explanation appears to be that the tent was collapsing, appeared to be on the verge of collapsing, or else it was too cold inside the tent to survive the night (they decided).  So, they had to get out quickly, secure the tent, and then go down to the trees in a calm way (or else risk falling and suffering serious injury).  As to other objections, I pointed out:

QUOTE:  ...anything they were wearing on the outside of the body (boots, coat in particular) during the day would get sweated up from the inside and coated with snow/ice on the outside.  If you then put them against the sides of the tent for insulation (as I read that the rescuers claimed they did), then without heat those will freeze up and become unwearable (they may not have realized that because they had used heat in the tent previously).  If you then wear the lighter boots, those can become too wet to wear the next day, so if they thought surviving the night wouldn't be too difficult, their actions make perfect sense.  Now there is a good possibility that they wanted to get out of the tent quicky, and that may be because the tent was about to (or appeared about to) collapse or get blown down the mountainside.  And that explains haste to leave and secure the tent, but then a slow walk down to the trees (so as not to fall and get injured).  It also explains why they didn't take the blankets, because they needed to work on securing the tent and thought the plan was fine (if you are wrapped up in a blanket and want to flee into the cold night because of some irrational fear, at least one would likely cling to their blanket, as is common in such situations).  They were not wearing one pair of socks, one pair of pants, and one shirt, which clearly would have been a terrible idea, but again, what someone believes about hypothermia in these kinds of situations is always hard to tell.  There are so many similar incidents where one asks, "why in the world did they do that, it was so dangerous?"  In this case, I think an alternate explanation is that Igor was angry with the group (as we read in the diaries) and so wanted to "teach them a lesson" by allowing the tent the get ripped open by the strong wind and then he would show them how to survive under those circumstances.  He just happened to be wrong about that point, and the four others deciding to go with a different method (immediately or after a short while) is evidence to that notion.  UNQUOTE.


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