SaraPuk: The cuts were identified by searchers when they reassembled the tent at the facility where they kept it. There are pictures on the document "autopsy of the tent," that clearly show the cuts through the seams. A woman who was in the building and was a seamstress determined the cuts were made from the inside of the tent. Her theory was examined with a microscopic look at the cut patterns and they determined the seamstress was correct. If you look at the pictures you can see the 3 cuts, one bigger than the other two. The slashes on the tent wall, yes they are there but they may have been there before the incident just accidentally.
It is very odd that any hiker would cut through the seam to make a hole to peek through. As stated before, it would have taken more effort such as a sawing motion to cut through a seam with 2-3 layers thick of canvas. If you started to slash, when you hit the seam, the slashing would stop and you would have to take time to saw through the seam.
It is also visible on the pictures that the initial cuts were further ripped by the wind.
All of this is a puzzle, even as to why they had to make 3 cuts to see something unless there were 3 of them looking. It is almost as if the hikers were not thinking properly when they did this or in such frame of mind that they did not care if they made the tent unsalvageable.
I have been sewing all of my life, all kinds of fabrics even some canvas and to cut through the seam would make the tent easily rip from the winds, as is witnessed by the cuts being torn.
as far as if they were making the cuts to air out some horrible fume or smoke, that doesn't make any sense either since they had a tent hole that held the stove pipe. It is all a mystery.