Sometimes I almost think I’ve read everything about this mystery; I’m sure I missed some, but it’s got to be close to everything since I’ve been reading for months now and every time I go back and check on something, it turns out I’ve already read it.
I think before agreeing with any one theory, it is important to stand back and look at the overall picture.
I don’t have much to say about theories such as Yeti, teleportation, mushrooms, UFOs, or other strange and improbable ideas, but to propose that these nine people panicked, cut their way out of the tent, ran, stumbled, repeatedly crashed and fell, hitting the sides of their heads, hands, ribs, and ankles on rocks, and tumbled into a ravine by accident and then ALL DIED, like nine clumsy oafs, is just not credible. This is not giving these nine people the respect they earned. They were skilled, tough, experienced, trained, and resourceful. One had been through WW II. They were not panic-prone newbies. The picture of them running helter-skelter without their coats and shoes, perhaps trying to out-run an avalanche by running in front of it, falling in the dark, getting hit by rocks and tumbling into a ravine, truly is material for a Dumb & Dumber movie.
Let’s give these guys some credit.
Indications are that their decisions at the cedar tree and the so-called “den” were intelligent, skilled, and by the book. When you are in a dangerous situation as they were, your training really does kick in. I worked in a prison for 10 years and we were constantly being trained and updated, and it was kind of wonderful to discover that when you actually are in one of those situations you trained for, your brain and muscles automatically do what you were trained to do. You really don’t just panic and run and die. Training actually works.
1) They would never cut their tent. Never. They knew perfectly well that this tent meant their very survival. They took good care of it and sewed the rips every night. This is training and experience.
2) They would never leave voluntarily without their shoes or coats. They knew perfectly well that this meant death.
3) There was no avalanche because training dictates to run perpendicular to an avalanche; you cannot outrun an avalanche by running in front of it. Again, this is training.
4) They did not get out of the tent to avoid a momentary problem, such as smoke from the stove, because if that were the case, they would step aside and wait for it to clear. Instead, they walked away for 45 minutes.
If the problem were a wolverine or a bear, they would not have walked away for 45 minutes. That makes no sense. Is that what you would do? They would have come up with a plan where the 9 of them could try to overcome it.
5) During this walk, they would be thinking and talking: A plan must be put together. They would have come up with some way to survive.
From all indications, their actions at the cedar and the “den” (if it exists) were intelligent, well-planned and executed, based on their mutual training and experience. They do not indicate panic.
6) Assumption: At some point, they decided that D and K would stay at the cedar and watch the tent for whatever danger was still there. These two cut a “window” — that is, all branches that were in the way of their viewing the tent. This is a logical decision. Isn’t this what you would do?
7) Assumption: While D and K cut branches and watched the tent, others in the party dug out a shelter in the snow and put cedar branches in it, to sit on.
8) Assumption: After D and K died, one or more of them cut their friends' clothes off and distributed them among the still-living, then respectfully moved and repositioned the bodies side by side.
All of these things show a smart and brave group, who used all their training and resources to survive a very real danger that was still at the tent.
I do not have a theory of my own, but I know which ones I lean towards.
I would very much like to hear more from people who understand the KGB, the NKVD, the Russian military, the gulags, the bomb tests, from that time period. It seems like the political situation in Russia in 1959 could be relevant.
At any rate, it would be great if we could just remember, going forward, to give these people some credit and respect their intelligence and skills, rather than run the old Bugs Bunny cartoon again.