Theories Discussion > Katabatic wind

The wind plays its own music

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Star man – great comments and input! Thanks!

Yes – the flashlight issue is a bit awkward. It looks as if it was put there afterwards, but it could in fact have been placed there by the group. Perhaps it was buried much deeper during the event, but was fortunate to stay in position after that the snow was put atop – and had blown away (with its front sticking out from the snow). In any case, it would probably have been sheltered by the snow shelf, like the collapsed tent in itself. A remarkable phenomenon that I have felt with these kind of winds are that they could actually leave smaller or thinner objects in place. Usually it’s the large volume objects that are affected. A falling wind this strong, is usually so fast that it skips the holes and cavities. It’s like when you drive a car fast and the bumps in the road become less obvious. This could explain why some footprint are saved and some not. Another thing that I have seen are that masts and poles often stays in place – its as if the strong vortex created behind the object is pushing it against the wind. But, as you say – there might also be other explanations for the flashlight being there.

Funny you mentioned the The Day After Tomorrow – we use to joke about that at home… “we got a temperature drop!”. Anyhow, yes the situation of the downdraft is comparable albeit way much weaker in the pass. Not Hollywood style.

As you also write – the tent was stitched together with yet another canvas and with makeshift repairs. What you raise next is very interesting in many aspects – how extreme low temperatures would affect the tent. The canvas material that we brought with us was worse in the Auspiya valley since it was more humid there. At one point I could take my Fjällräven anorak (the G-1000 material is rather “canvasish”) off and put it in a standing position. It became that stiff. The temperature was then around -35 degrees Celsius. On the pass it was much colder but less humid, so this wasn’t a problem. I guess the situation could be the opposite if the winds or the weather in general changes. Anyhow – if the tent would have been as stiff as my anorak, then I suppose it could have, at a certain point, have strengthen the canvas a bit. Could it could also be the opposite, as you point out – like a stiff wall against the wind. I guess that the stiffness would become worse the longer the group of nine would stay in it – creating humidity. Repairs could certainly fail easier – good point! In fact and just “a shoot in the night” – this could explain the rather straight cuts in the tent (if not most were made by the rescue team). When the canvas was folded and later got stiff – that’s were any breaking point potentially could appear. 

As for leaving the tent – I again think that the gravity wind we are talking about would not let you retrieve things inside the ten that easily. Perhaps some did – like the valenki or perhaps some socks not already on. But considering that they had to act immediately to cover the tent with snow – even this a hopelessly hard scenario – there would be very hard to find things in the dark with not sufficient flashlights in the dark night. It really gets dark here when the moon is not shining, although the snow. To let two or three people crawl inside under the snow whilst the other are waiting would be very hard. It’s not as if you had to stand there waiting. A wind of 25, 30, 35 m/s (?) with an outside temperature of likely -35 Celsius, is not survivable if you don’t act immediately. And by this point I believe they were pretty sure where to try out any survival to wait out the event (further down into the forest). I’m sure they didn’t think that this would go well – but a better option indeed. Remember the Anaris case – they stayed and froze to death. I think that your example of Slobodin only having one boot, is a good indication to the above scenario – grabbing what you see. Your mention of the frozen hands is also an valid point. I would even suggest that their hands and feet were already totally numb on their way down.

Yes, Semyons camera have caused a stir. It could be some sort of conspiracy, yes – but I would rather suggest that he took it with him – either because he already had it on him or because he chose to grab it. After all these are expensive objects and I’m sure Semyons first thought wasn’t that he was going to die, rather afraid of losing it. From two of the photos in his camera there are very faint silhouettes of taiga. This would suggest that the photos were taken inside the forest, either before or after the pitching on Kholat.   

Yes, the autopsy reports are odd – I agree. Regarding the urine levels, I don’t know what to expect – I assume you are right to keep options open for other things than plain hypothermia. Hard one. Coats unzipped and gloves in their pockets are totally in line with the Anaris event. Let’s see if any toxicology and other reports will be available in the now open case. And regarding Semyon and Lyuda, you make a good point. This is actually the most problematic to me. But after taking part of the autopsy report and discussions with people that have studied the report – the case of damages being ante- or postmortem is problematic. I believe the case to be as I wrote briefly in the theory page, regarding Semyon and Lyuda. In this respect I also want to know more about the damages to skin and skulls – if postmortem. We know for example that Lyudas skull must have been badly damages by the search sticks, since part of her body tissue was found before her body. If the search team documented such damages or if it was put aside, I don’t know. Working as an archaeologist, I know though that when we accidently pick through a hidden and beautiful jar or a papyrus, we try to tone such things down. I don’t know if this is a pertinent comparison.

Regarding the den(s) and the cedar and their positions, you raise interesting questions again. These are important facts in order to understand the subsequent events. I would say that, also comparing to the Anaris case and from the survivors account, is that things are not always very rational. We must remember that by the time a fire was made and the dens were excavated, substantial time in the absolute possible weather had passed. It is important to note that as time pass, irrational behavior should be expected. In this instance it might explain peculiarities in decisions. Hypothermia means that the body core temperature sinks below 35 degrees Celsius. This usually gives symptoms of fatigue, impaired coordination ability, confusion and hallucinations. Eventually, apathy usually kicks in. With a body temperature of around 30 degrees Celsius, most become unconscious. Furthermore, it can be debated if the distance between the den and the tree were too distant. You could keep voice contact and likely they started with the fire first and the best digging spot would have been tried out after or concurrently with that – plus that any decision had to be made quickly. Yes, it seems that at least Lyuda and Doroshenko fell from a tree due to their wounded parts in their armpits.

Many thanks for input and sober reflections. I hope my viewpoint was rather clear, albeit with some holes. I too, take my hat off for such great insight in the case and for sharing your experiences!

All the best - Richard


--- Quote from: ARCDOC on February 23, 2019, 11:35:31 AM ---Best forum readers!

I thought that it would be a good idea to post something here, after writing the article about the theory involving a katabatic wind. Me, Andreas, Ekaterina and Artem, made an expedition to the pass in Jan/Feb, which is shortly described together with the new theory. You can find it under “The Swedish-Russian Dyatlov Expedition 2019” on this site’s Home page – or in my constantly updated blog. A link to the latter is found along the article mentioned above. Before commenting, I would suggest that you read the theory in full.

I have tried to build the case out of my own experiences from mountainous areas and by experiencing the Dyatlov pass/Auspiya valley during the same time of the year as the Dyatlov group. I have also compared the Dyatlov event to the Swedish accident of Anaris in 1978. The latter which in many ways mimics the circumstances in the Dyatlov pass - affected by a gravity wind (katabatic wind).

I have experienced many positive feedbacks on the theory, but also much criticism. The latter is very welcomed in order to improve the knowledge of the event. So please, when objecting, try also to explain why you object to details or any larger unfolding event during the evening/night of February 1st in 1959 - involving a possible katabatic wind. This, so that we can build a solid case. To my surprise most of the people objecting to the theory are less favourable of the idea of leaving the tent without giving a thought of staying – this in case of a falling/gravity wind. It is important to solve the “leaving the tent” situation, because it is this specific act that more or less leads to the subsequent events. So let me first make one thing clear. I am not talking about any wind or any storm. The density and gravitational force of a katabatic wind is brutal. A storm would mostly give you the option to dress and to stay/leave the tent under rather controlled forms. Furthermore, never forget the coexisting low temperature, both during the night and the cooling effect of a gravity wind rolling down the gradient. So again, we are not talking about severe winds or a storm of wind speeds up to around 25 m/s, but about possible wind speeds above that. Even though we should be open for wind speeds during a katabatic event of around 20-25 m/s. Remember that the katabatic wind recorded during the Anaris event was “only” around 20 m/s. The cooling effect was then around minus 50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many would argue that the Dyatlov group could have stayed in the tent. But I would argue that crawling back under the snow covered tent, if possible at all due to the conditions involving a gravity wind, wouldn’t have helped them - which they wisely and obviously realized. Yes, the tent would have been better secured with the group inside, but the cooling effect under a gravity wind would eventually have killed them. Furthermore the torn tent was already made unsuitable for this option. In fact - it was exactly this that killed the Anaris group, where the only person escaping the shelter was the only survivor. He was in constant movement and ventured elsewhere, while the rest froze to death.

So, let us start there – and let the ideas, concerns or additional viewpoints flow.

Richard Holmgren

--- End quote ---

Dear Richard Holmgren!

Next time back I have read in newspaper “Aftonbladet” article of Katarina Norrgrann ”Därför dog de nio på berget” on February, 08th. Certainly no oneself article, and its copy on the Internet. After that I had an insuperable desire contact to you and discuss some features of your expedition. I have directed e-mail to Katarina with the request to discuss about you travel and to contact you for this purpose. While I have get not answer and good luck smiled to me, that you have written the thoughts on this forum has.

First I should tell that you the big heroes that have perform such travel and have courageously overcome all difficulties. In addition it is necessary I tell to you, that from many other things have passed route part in difference strictly on route Dyatlov group. That not do many modern groups. They go on easier way – snowmobile track on old Mansi`s road. I know that I speak about it because we (with my friend Alexander Alekseenkov) have already made 4 similar winter travel exclusively with the research purposes on these subjects.

Now we plan the fifth travel, therefore we have only small time for preliminary discussion. It is possible only till March, 01st 2019. When we will come back, I will inform on it at this forum.
At first I would like tell some words under your theory.

1.I almost completely agree with your estimations about trajectory of studying of this theory, in particular, that the basic dominant of this failure is the reason of escape from tent, however do not consider to you, that the wind without additional physical factors could be the reason only. They perfectly understood (if they were in full human intellect) that the similar way leave therefrom is equivalent as jump out of the plane if it flies at the big height, however is the fact that they so have made it. From here it is possible draw conclusion that they did not make decisions agree to logic and to full human intellect. Means there was external influence on their human intellect.

2.I have very big doubts that in this case we have Katabatic wind because it is characteristic for the stream of very cold air falling with plateau downwards and filling all space below. Here we have picture slightly another. The ridge of the Ural mountains is divider of two climatic zones: warmer which is formed under the influence of warm current Gulf Stream and (on the opposite side) colder - which is available beyond Ural Mountains and it is formed under the influence of the Arctic cold which comes from space behind islands Novaya Zemlya (New Lands). This big difference of temperatures also forms strong wind which pass through the Ural ridge. In addition the increase in speed of wind is reached at the expense of the effect reflected in the Bernoulli law, which is caused compression ground borderline stream by Ural ridge. Thus the valleys located in the West in addition develop air stream in direction from the West to East. Dyatlov`s group Tent was in 1 to 2 km from watershed line of the Main Ural ridge, therefore it was under the influence of warmer air from the West, than all lowland to the East away from mountains Ural Mountains. It means that warmer air covered East zone of cold area and not could go down far downwards because it had smaller density, than the bottom colder air. It turns out so that below was cold, but almost windless weather, and above, moderate or rather strong wind, but much warmer.

3.You almost truly and precisely estimate influence of weather conditions, only (as I think) overestimate severity of these conditions during the beginning and continuation of all actions  little. By my estimations (method of interpolation of weather on the basis of 7 surrounding meteorological stations: Troitsty-Pechorsk; Syktyvkar; Niaksimvol; Burmatovo; Ivdel and Chardyn) I have ascertain that weather should be (presumably) such: tо at tent place ~-12 …-18C; speed of wind at level of top N-E spur from mountain “1096” (now - Holatchahl) ~ 15. 18 m/s; tо at cedar ~-22 …-25C speed of wind in this area - insignificant. During expedition in January 2015 we have found out that at a wind 15 … 16 m/s at tent place, on half of way to cedar, the wind abates practically to the indiscernible. It is possible to look at some video fragments under the reference:
On these video you can see all way from place of tent to cedar and wind changes wind velocity.
This video by which I did in way from tent place to cedar. Unfortunately there all comments in Russian but if it is necessary it can be seen by means of the translator.
The initial information I took on a site of the World Meteorological organisation  about those points where there was data for 4 adjacent days since the beginning of events
I regret that I do not have time now to alter the scheme in English.
If there is a necessity, I can give the reference to the big article about weather to this place and its separate special cases. But it is in Russian too.  explode1
It is possible use computer translation program.
I can offer only that, I will answer if it probably in more details all questions, but only after returning from our expedition.
I can suggest look at some supervision of wind In January, 2015 under this reference:

4.Unfortunately I have not found the description of case Anaris group in the Internet, therefore I cannot compare it to conditions in which there was Dyatlov group. If you send me the reference to this description in English, German, French or Spanish (at me the translator is adjusted only on these languages) that I will be very grateful to you.

5.I think that it is not necessary consider case returning of participants  Dyatlov group to tent from a cedar because very many details say that it was generated then (1959) belief of participants of search because they could not explain their arrangement in space and in time on course of events. It is a separate part of discussion which should be conducted only after we can understand conditions of weather and the reason escape from tents. As last resort it can be received in Swedish, but I should search long time for adequate translation possibility. If built in Google-translator cannot make it.

6.I do not want tell that bad, but after viewing your photos arrangement of place you tent, at me the impression is made that your tent stood minimum in 200 … 300 metres from that place which has been calculated with the big accuracy, several Russian researchers. I want notice that you were the third group which during last current 60 years has organised winter parking place in night in this local area.
Dyatlov group in 1959 was the first.
The second is team by Alex Markov's group from Ekaterinburg (university UPI) in 1999, in time expeditions to honour of the 30 anniversary of events Dyatlov group.
The third group was yours.  grin1
It is everything, not including ours (with Alexander Alekseenkov) four series for 5 … 6 spending the night in area about rocks. This place has been chosen by us specially, proceeding their my hypothesis of events. But it should be discussed later.
I have forgotten tell that in the same place there was group of professional rescuers in 2013 which has arrived there by the helicopter and provided departure there for one day of correspondents of the newspaper «Komsomolskya Pravda» which much write about " Dyatlov pass " on it theme. We have come there 4 days prior to them, and did not foreknow that they there will be.
On your photos there are no exact reference points, therefore for understanding how much I am right in the estimations, I would like to ask you give me co-ordinates your tent on slope that it would be possible compare to available calculations and comparisons on photo 1959 and our, as modern. If it is the confidential information for public means that it is not obligatory. Or this information can be send to my e-mail or in the personal messag in that forum. I will not publish in open sources. It is for you only

7.I very much liked your photos on their quality and art characteristics. You could inform me what cameras and objectives you used, what I could compare to our modest possibilities?

8.I Ask my admiration and respect to Andreas because I understand, what big case you have made in these researches.

                                Vladimir A. Borzenkov.
                     PhD (aeronautics and space engineering)
                                        Moscow, Russia.

Hello, Richard

Your article is very interesting to me. The facts are written in a clear and logical manner. I have to say that his explanation of the sequence of events is convincing. Yes, I can imagine this cause of the whole event. There are several inconsistencies, but they are not so serious and can be probably  explained.
For me there are new findings and some doubtful points:

“With the extremely low temperatures at hand, their socks would not immediately turn wet as long as they moved quickly to the forest to seek a temporary shelter”.
“Many would argue that fleeing from the tent and warm equipment in such conditions would mean certain death. In line with their outdoor experiences I'm sure they knew that such winds were unfortunate and rare but hopefully they would not last all night. Their tent, if still in place, would be within grasp as long as they stayed alive elsewhere”.
- yes, it might eventually explain why they went to the forest without shoes and warm clothes.
It has never occurred to me to take into consideration that in a strong wind it is difficult to get dressed and take shoes when wind knocks you to the ground.
What, however, does not quite fit with this theory is that the tent eventually resisted the wind, and the escape from it into the forest was eventually unnecessary. But probably they did not know it, and they feared the tent would collapse. And at the same time, they could plan to return from the forest in a short time when wind will calm down. This theory explains well the flashlight left on the roof of the tent. It is true that the tent has not finally fallen. But in that whirlwind, the darkness and the hum, they could get panic and be afraid that the tent would collapse. That's why they made a tragic evil decision and went to the forest  with the wind behind them, thinking that the wind would soften for a short time (maybe their previous experiences). And walk a mile away takes does not take much time for trained peoples (up to 25 min). For me, in this situation inexperience and revaluation of own strength and determination due to their young has played a role excuseme.

“While Doroshenko and Krivonischenko took responsibility for making a fire, the others started to dig out two bivouacs”
-  I do not understand why two bivouacs have to be built and not only big one. And more people next to each other would be better warmed up.

“The rest of the team, Slobodin, Dytlov and Kolmogorova never settled in the nearby bivouac for long – that is, in the bivouac that was retrieved empty in May and still prepared with branches of fir. Perhaps the chocking experience of this potential death trap, collapsing over their friends and with insufficient strength to help out, gave them only one last option - that of trying to get back to the tent”.
 - I can imagine such a culmination of the whole sequence of the event.

Since I was convinced all the time that the whole event had caused some physical phenomenon, I really enjoy this latest theory by Richard, although the theory of plasmoid lighting balls ( is also quite plausible.
I like the fact that, unlike us, Richard has an experience of camping in a hostile environment. Therefore, I do not completely reject his theory. Certainly his theory is more convincing for me than theory of rocket testing / killer army / aliens .

Best Vladimir A. Borzenkov,

Thanks for your many interesting details and insightful considerations! Very well put and with great precision. If you have time to talk over Skype or anything similar, contact me from my homepage. I feel that I have many commitments going on and writing answers to all questions and claims in a fruitful way, takes a lot of effort - as I have already tried to do elsewhere. This forum is just one place "bombarding" me at the moment and other commitments needs to be fulfilled too. I suggest that you contact me as above and I will then also write a summary on anything coming out from our discussion, and put it in this thread - so that many more continuously can take part. Sounds good?



--- Quote from: ARCDOC on February 24, 2019, 09:02:02 AM ---Best Vladimir A. Borzenkov,

Thanks for your many interesting details and insightful considerations! Very well put and with great precision. If you have time to talk over Skype or anything similar, contact me from my homepage. I feel that I have many commitments going on and writing answers to all questions and claims in a fruitful way, takes a lot of effort - as I have already tried to do elsewhere. This forum is just one place "bombarding" me at the moment and other commitments needs to be fulfilled too. I suggest that you contact me as above and I will then also write a summary on anything coming out from our discussion, and put it in this thread - so that many more continuously can take part. Sounds good?


--- End quote ---

Dear Richard!

I want offer the following order of our joint actions:

As now from you it is required many comment from other readers, we will make delay before our returning from Dyatlov pass (it approximately on March, 15th) and after that we will discuss other questions. Many participants of discussions in this time will calm down. And I will have new facts and the new information.
I will write the e-mail to you in the personal message at this forum.
If you not against let's operate so?



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