All witness statements and later recollections that say someone discovered the tent before Feb. 26, 1959, are wrong. This discussion thread is one of the first ones I studied on this website, so now that I have spent weeks researching everything, I thought it would be appropriate to start adding my findings to this website starting with this discussion.
Karpushin said he saw the tent on Feb. 25 while flying above it. I meticulously examined all the data about that and proved he simply was confusing things in his mind when he stated those details long afterwards. I wrote up the details, together with photos. Yesterday, I read Slobtsov's book and found that he had reached my same conclusions fifteen years ago! If only there were some way for false leads like those in this discussion thread to have a warning posted at the top once the actual answer becomes known! Even worse, there is a very detailed write-up on this website about one of these wrong-first-discovery-date leads that doesn't allow responses posted to it. If anyone knows how we can get that fixed, please message me or tell the site owner.
Here's what Slobtsov's book says, followed by my summary of its confusing translation from Russian to English:
Having got the message about the found tent, Ortyukov and Maslennikov began to draw up rescue forces to Mount Holatchakhl (1096) for localization of the search zone. The Karelin and Tchernyshov groups were transferred here from Ivdel and upper reaches of the Vishera already on February 27th together with Moiseyev and Mostovoy with guard dogs. After receiving a message with a pendant from the plane, on February 27th the Tchernyshov group made all ready for the journey in the morning and set out for Mount Holatchakhl (it was 25 km away from this place). The flown-up helicopter picked them up and delivered to the outlier on the pass at Mount Holatchakhl. The Grebennik group was given a signal with a pendant from the plane while approaching Mount Oyko-Chakur, and they started descending along the Toshemka in the direction of Vizhay. The next day the helicopter took them off. The Grebennik group also had a “double” tent which looked like the Dyatlov group’s tent.
On all grounds, it was the tent, which the aviators (Karpushin, Patrushev) saw, who spoke of it much later as of the Dyatlov group’s tent, near which “the dead” were lying. However, it was the Grebennik group’s tent, and it was the tourists of the Grebennik group, who were lying in a conventional sign near it, not “the dead”. And it was on February 27th, when the aviators saw the tent, not on 25th, – already after discovering the Dyatlov group’s tent by the Slobtsov group.
Slobtsov is saying that the Grebennik group had an extra-long tent like the Dyatlov group had, and after Dyatlov's tent was found on Feb. 26, the Grebennik group was signalled to by a plane and then picked up by a helicopter, since there was no need for them to keep searching in the wrong area, and they had no portable radio/phone. Karpushin, one of those pilots, saw their tent from the air on Feb. 27, and noticed a female with long hair lying down waiting, and a man, and somehow over time he merged those memories into a memory of having seen Dyatlov's tent on Feb. 25, when what he actually saw was the Grebennik tent on Feb. 27, and living people from that group, not dead people from Dyatlov's group. Probably he had been sent to find people near a tent, perhaps as early as Feb. 25, and the very first tent he saw was the Grebennik one, so that cemented an aha moment in his mind that confused him later, even though he knew he had seen more than one tent in the last few days of February.
Unfortunately for me (and for the others in this discussion), Karpushin's testimony was believable enough that we studied lots of things to try to figure it out. Alas, this was almost a complete waste of time, since we were chasing figments of his imagination. Other than Slobtsov's booking proving that, here's my own proof that I wrote up before I found Slobtsov's book (amazing that I ended up concluding almost the same thing Slobtsov did):
Plane navigator Karpushin said things that clearly couldn't have happened on ANY date, much less FEB. 25 (one day before the day that everyone agrees Sharavin first chopped into the snow-encapsulated tent and looked inside). This part of Karpushin's statement proves he's got his memories mixed up with some other rescue mission he was on, or with other dates he did see the things, or in some other way is just plain wrong:
"[from the airplane when discovering the tent and other things nearby:] Straight by the tent, a corpse of a woman lay judging by her long hair. A little further away lay another body. It was evident that the students left the tent in panic."
NONE of that is true! None of the nine bodies were visible from the air before being dug out. All were covered by snow and so hard to find that none were found the 1st day (Feb. 26), four the 2nd day (one needing a scent-dog), one the 8th day, and four found many weeks later. Of the two females, one was under 15 feet of snow in the ravine, and the other under almost two feet of snow 2000 feet away from the tent, completely hidden from view from the air and from the ground. It took searchers two months to find the deeper-buried woman, and the less-deep woman was deep enough under completely smooth snow that they needed a scent-dog to find. The men's bodies he's referring to (Slobodin or Dyatlov) were also under the surface of the snow and could not possibly have been seen from the air. At the end of this write-up I show Slobodin after they'd dug enough snow off to photograph him, clearly showing two feet of snow having accumulated after he died. Neither man was anywhere near any other body. The closest body to the woman was over 500 feet from her. The next picture is Dyatlov, apparently when they'd first started digging, almost 100% covered by snow. Only part of his sleeve is out of the snow, and that was probably also covered before they started digging. Kolmogorova, the woman whom Karpushin must have been referring to, is in the next photo. Her head was under about two feet of snow, with the hood of her coat pulled up onto part of it, and all of her body under snow, completely hidden from the air. Conceivably, diggers would have seen SOME of her not-long-but-not-short hair once they'd dug up the snow. Her body in the morgue, with no snow, still frozen in that position, shows her hair better. The most that anyone could see with her in the snow, face-down, before being removed, would be if up-close they looked at her head and noticed longer hair than any of the men had, so it would have to be a woman. If Karpushin had walked the slope after she and Dyatlov had been found, he may have been able to tell which was female, and after seeing tents from the air in February, he has mixed those memories. He might also have seen a female on some different rescue mission. I disregard his ENTIRE testimony as completely wrong.
Now, on to the other people whom this discussion thread says claimed to have found the tent before Feb. 26:
Cheglakov's testimony doesn't use dates but instead timespans from when the search started. He probably meant the word "third" instead of "fifth"; if we correct that, then his dating is fine. His testimony was given on March 6, so his memory should have been fine. It's odd that he mentioned anyone being "dragged in the ravine" since the ravine bodies and snow-den items were not found until two months later. Perhaps this is due to multiple people using "ravine" to refer to the entire area of the trees instead of just the creek ravine itself. His frequent use of the word "we" indicates that he is summarizing what "searchers collectively" did. He personally could not have done/seen all the things he said.
"On the second day [of our search] we found the tent of the hikers... It was badly drifted by snow. We did not go inside." ... "On the fifth day of searching we found 4 bodies, one of them female. After that we were taken home by helicopter to village of Vizhay."
By "did not go inside" he must mean that they themselves did not crawl into the tent but they looked into it from outside, so he is correct. But no bodies were discovered on what he is saying is the fifth day. He is testifying on March 6. His search started Feb. 25. Tent was found on Feb. 26. Four bodies found on Feb. 27. One body found on Mar. 5. If we change the word FIFTH to THIRD then his entire testimony is fine. It definitely is correct that they found the tent on the 2nd day and the four bodies on the 3rd day.
Here is his complete testimony, but there is nothing additional in it to clarify anything other than what I said above; He never said "Feb. 25". That is simply someone's misinterpretation of his mistaken wording. (There are A LOT of typos and translations errors in the official files, and that is why it has taken me almost a month to finally figure out the entire case.)
CHEGLAKOV WITNESS TESTIMONY
6 March 1959 investigator of Ivdel district in Sverdlovsk region lawyer I class Kuzminyh interrogated on the premises of the Vizhay logging department P.O. 240 as a witness, in compliance with art. 162-168 Code of Criminal Procedure
Surname, name and middle name: Cheglakov Aleksey Semyonovich
Year of birth 1924
Education: 10th grade
Occupation a) currently – Chief of the Separate Paramilitary Fire Brigade of Vizhay Forestry.
Al. Cheglakov (signature)
The witness testified: At the end of January 1959 the exact date can not remember, I saw at the club in village of Vizhay a group of hikers, among them there were 2 girls. These hikers left in a truck to 41st district of the Forestry Energolesokombinat. No one lives in the village of 2nd North mine. In the third week of February 1959 on the orders of the Chief of the logging branch Hakimov, together with the forester Ivan Pashin I flew by helicopter to the site of the death of a group of hikers near Mount Otorten. With us together in the same helicopter were 4 people and from Ivdel the same day came another 5 people. We start to carry out the assigned tasks same day we arrived. The search of hikers started in two groups. One person left on the protection of belongings and tents. On the first day of our search we found the ski tracks of the hikers. On the second day we found the tent of the hikers which was located in the upper reaches of rivers Auspiya and Lozva at the height of the mountain Verhuspiya. It was badly drifted by snow. We did not go inside.
We couldn't see any ski tracks of the hikers around the tent. Mansi ski tracks we have seen 10 km from where the tent of the of the hikers was found. One kilometer from the camping site of the hikers we found new Mansi stand (chum).
The first stop of the hikers from the location of the tent was at a distance of 17-20 km. The same distance was from Vizhay river. On the fifth day of searching we found 4 bodies, one of them female. After that we were taken home by helicopter to village of Vizhay. The mountain where the tent and the dead bodies were found is not a Mansi sacred place. Mansi sacred places are very far from there. While Stepan Kurikov and other Mansi helped with the search their behavior was normal and they even regretted that what happened to the hikers was so bad. What I saw and the circumstances under which they died I can only assume that they perish from the elements. Mansi should not be prosecuted for the death of the hikers. The group of hikers could have frozen because of a hurricane that tore the tent and broke loose and they try to fix it, or even managed to do that before being blown by the wind and dragged in the ravine, where they lost orientation and couldn't get back to the tent and died from the cold. I have nothing more to add.
Al. Cheglakov (signature)
Interrogator Assitant Attorney Lawyer I Class Kuzminyh (signature)
Likewise, I see only one specific date in the testimony of Pashin. He never said he found the tent before Feb. 26. Like the above, he also used timespans, not dates. He is not mistaken when he uses the words FIRST and FIFTH. And he simply says he found the tent as a result of a multi-day search, not on any specific day. And like the above, he uses the collective WE. He himself did not go to the tent, and he did not look inside. He remained downslope from it while Sharavin and Slobtsov went to it. They said he was too scared to go. You must view EVERY English citation from a Russian person from 1959 as possibly mistranslated. No kidding. Seriously! You can waste countless hours chasing false leads if you see something that doesn't make sense and assume the error is something other than a misunderstanding. I CAN'T EMPHASIZE THAT ENOUGH. Do not take ANYTHING on this website, that is a translation from Russian, as sacrosanct. Only believe the photos. If I still haven't convinced you, try taking the Russian letters and pasting them into an internet Russian translation site, and compare the result to the translation here. They'll be close but with notable differences.
"On February 23, 1959 6 of us were dropped off from a helicopter in the area of Mount Otorten to look for the lost group of hikers. On the first day of the search, once descended into the Auspiya we found ski tracks from the hikers. Here we pitched a tent, spend the night, divided into three groups and went to look for the hikers, as a result of the search we found a tent with belongings that was not clearly seen since it was covered with snow, we did not go into the tent."
Here's his full testimony:https://dyatlovpass.com/case-files-49-50?rbid=17743