I pulled this gem from the original boards just because it's hard to get to with that volume of comments. I thought it was worth resurrecting for argument's sake. There's gotta be somebody out there that likes this theory other than he who pretty much created it, right?:
Having read around this on the internet and including Svetalana Oss’s book “Don’t go there” it is clearly in my opinion ball lightning.
Ivanov believed that UFOs was the best explanation, but he stressed not aliens, just lethal unidentified flying objects/fireballs, the soviet authorities diluting his finding to “unknown compelling force”.
Ball lightning fits in with his view and explains :– mountain lights being observed from elsewhere and reported by the mansi, burns that are otherwise difficult to account for, burnt clothing, burnt tree tops, deaths due to extreme pressure (explosion). Because ball lightning isn’t yet understood by science it also allows the luxury of being stretched to explain skin colour, hair whitening, radiation. But in particular it works extremely well with what is perhaps the key question, why did they leave the tent that way? :-
The occupants are settling down in the tent it is dark outside.
A light (or lights) appear on the mountain bright enough to be noticed inside the tent. Fascinated the occupants start making slits along the top of tent at standing height (say three 30 cm slits, enough for up to nine people) to observe. Zolotaryov picks up his hidden KGB camera and keeps it around his neck for the duration.
Then one of the lights moves very near or even enters the tent at or near to the entrance. N.B. it’s common for ball lightning to pass through matter without leaving a trace.
Everyone very quickly exits the tent via cutting a slit at the back, there is no time to put on any footwear or extra clothes.
Now unable to return to the tent (more lights?) and at risk of exposure they decide to make for the cache of food and kit. But they get lost because (1) ball lightning (electro magnetic energy?) affects their compass?) or (2) the bl is moving down the slope towards the cache? A type of bl is classed as “rollers”. or (3) they’re just disorientated by the dark and the snow (one of the last photos show them to be in whiteout conditions). Anyway they take the wrong path a critical decision that costs them their lives and might have resulted in brawling later if there was a difference of opinion when they set off.
So they choose to camp next to a cedar that gives a good lookout to watch the lightshow back on the hill in order to make a return to the tent when it's safer as now they are not sure where the cache is located.
But the lights move down the hill towards them burning some of the tree tops....
Beyond this point no one knows the order of events but it seems that Doroshenko and Krivonischenko were the first to die. N.B. both had burns that are not easily explained from a small camp fire but perhaps more easily explained by electrical discharge.
Historical records state that it is a feature of aggressive ball lightning that it can injure or kill (by burning) some members of a group leaving others unharmed or just with burnt clothing it all depends on the discharge.
For the remaining seven either some or all moved to the ravine and four died due to another ball lightning exploding overhead with tremendous force. The remaining three where lucky enough to be distant enough from the blast not to be killed (n.b. Slobodin had a head fracture). Whatever, they realised that they could not shelter from the lights, their only remaining chance was to get off the mountain by returning to the tent and finding their boots and skis. Sadly weakened by cold and possibly the explosion they never made it. May they rest in peace.
Other thoughts – I don’t like the “murder by others” theory because imo it doesn’t fit the facts, no obvious lethal force, several of the party clearly died of hypothermia and clearly in at least two separate events, probably three. All the other injuries sustained by the party seem to be explainable by - brawling, climbing, collecting firewood, falling out of a tree, previous falls on the skiing trip (one had a bandage), that is all but one injury, Dubinina’s tongue (it’s my assumption the missing eyes can be explained by decomposition in the stream but possibly not?).
Now here it starts getting rather interesting. If you google “cattle mutilations” you will find there is a well documented phenomenon (hundreds of cases?) that includes specific types of head trauma (disappearance of eyes, tongue and some mouth tissue) that are quite similar to Dubinina’s injuries. It’s not only cattle that are affected but other mammalian species as well, including it seems humans, google “human mutilation brazil”. Now if we discount the possibility that this is due to aliens or even humans performing brutal surgical processes we’re left with an unknown natural process as the cause, an energy that removes organ tissue selectively and exits the body via it’s orifices cauterising tissue bloodlessly in the process.
Ivanov’s fireballs, ball lightning? Perhaps even an explanation for spontaneous combustion?
Also Dyatlov Pass is at a very similar latitude to Hessdalen where the “lights” phenomenon has been more closely observed so it would be my conjecture that the Dyatlov lights are created by the same forces. N.B. higher radiation levels have been found at Hessdalen in areas where sightings have occurred.