31 January 1959
Weather today is a bit worse – wind (west), snowing (probably from the pines), since the sky is perfectly clear.
Started relatively early (around 10 am). Got back on the Mansi trail. (Up to now we are following a Mansi trail on which not so long passed a hunter with deer.)
Yesterday it seems we stumbled upon his resting stop. Deer didn't go any further. The hunter took the beaten trail by himself, we are following in his steps.
Had a surprisingly good overnight, air is warm and dry, though it’s -18°C to -24°C. Walking is especially hard today. We can't see the trail, have to grope our way through at times. Can’t do more than 1.52 km (1 mile) per hour.
Trying out new ways to clear the path. The first in line drops his backpack, skis forward for five minutes, comes back for a 10-15 minute break, then catches up with the group. That’s one way to keep laying ski tracks non-stop. Hard on the second hiker though, who has to follow the new trail with full gear on his back. We gradually leave the Auspiya valley, it’s upwards all the way but goes rather smoothly. Thin birch grove replaces firs. The end of forest is getting closer. Wind is western, warm, piercing, with speed like the draft from airplanes at take-off. Firn, open spaces. I can't even think of setting up storage here. It's nearly 4. Have to start looking for a place to pitch the tent. We go south in the Auspiya valley. Seems this place has the deepest snow. Wind not strong, snow 1.22 m deep. We’re exhausted, but start setting up for the night. Firewood is scarce, mostly damp firs. We build the campfire on the logs, too tired to dig a fire pit. Dinner’s in the tent. Nice and warm. Can’t imagine such comfort on the ridge, with howling wind outside, hundreds of kilometers away from human settlements.
Dyatlov (last record in the diary)
I think this aspect has not been explored enough, but is very important. The day before the incident, they reached the Dyatlov Pass itself (pass in the spur between the Auspiya and Lozva valleys). Instead of continuing and camping in the Lozva valley, which was very close and on their planned route, they turned back. Above is the diary entry stating this, but it doesn't give a reason.
Why would they turn back and lose a day?
The searchers' camp was in the Auspiya valley and every day, they went up to the tent (which was further past the ridge), searched for long hours and then went back down. It seems like it's not difficult. Is there a record of a searcher who was unable to reach the search area due to weather, impassable terrain, or any other reason? What caused the difficulty for the Dyatlov group?
The next day, they built the labaz/cache, and walked up the slope, crossed the spur and set up camp (or set up a labaz according to the theory in Igor & Teddy's book). The labaz that was found was just stuff covered by snow, couldn't have taken long to set up. This is the same route the searchers took every day, and yet the Dyatlov Group failed to reach the Lozva valley again! To me it seems like something was already wrong... But what could it be?