Doing more research it seems that one of the motivations behind the intense search was to find Aleksander's body because they were worried he had defected. If they had that worry after then they had it before, which would make sense why Seymon was inserted into the group. It also means that THEY knew the group was in that area and I think that is important
I think that Aleksander was being groomed for a position with the KGB or something like that. He was sent to the university to develop relationships within that base of workers as a mole.
So Seymon would have two objectives, keep an eye on Aleksander to see if he is going to run and to see how he handles himself under pressure, can he work with a team, is he willing to put the hardwork in etc
Group gets to where they parted ways and the first time they try the sled they know it won't work. they even put something about it in the satirical newsletter they made, about a sled only working on the train.
They decide that since they are there, they might as well stick around and have a holiday. I didn't realize that they had to leave a letter on the top of the pass to prove they were there so I no longer think they were trying to fool anyone. Most of the money had been spent on food etc, so to go back would be a waste. Perhaps they decided they would pay the club back. That would fit in with what is said about their character.
So they spent time skiing around that area and end up setting off a land mine or a boobie trap. The 4 that are found in the ravine were the closest to it and received the worst injuries, then the two under the cedar and lastly the 3 but they were just knocked out by the blast and froze to death.
When the military arrives on scene, alerted either by the blast or an alarm, they find that they have killed the two KGB members that they knew were in the area, but they didn't know they hadn't left the area
So the cover up begins. They do not want to admit that they killed two KGB members so they need to come up with a cover story. they knew where the group was going and decide that the furthest away point is the pass. that will buy them more time to "find" them
bodies, tent and equipment and soldiers are loaded on helicopters and flown to the pass and dropped off on the slope. I am going to assume that their original plan was to implicate the Mansi in the attack so they staged the tent to look like they had cut their way out because they were afraid, then soldiers walked down to the cedar (to leave footprints to be found) and dropped off the 2 bodies. because of the injuries they had sustained in the blast the soldiers made a fire, cut down tree branches etc.
the 3 who froze where dumped off to make it look like they were walking back up the slope, one may have still been alive or kept in a warmer place and that explains the melted snow under the body.
the 4 with the most horrific injuries are dropped from the top of the ravine to the creek below to make it look like they fell
Their clothing was adjusted to make it look like they had been in the tent and two outside for guard duty because if the group was afraid of the Mansi, they would place a guard or at least that is what the soldiers would do so that is what they thought the group would do. they didn't notice the camera around Seymon neck, it fell out after some time in the water. The photos of the lights could be what drew them to the area that the blast happened or it could be some tech issue, I've read both ideas and both makes sense to me
now the soldiers start to ski back, make up the cache, which would be standard practice for a group attempting the pass and they would know that. ski back to civilization so now there is a ski trail to follow to the bodies.
last known confirmed contact was jan 28, Feb 26, they find the tent. that is almost a month for the skiers to spend some time skiing around, taking photos of the fun they are having, that's why they didn't bother with landmark photos or photos to prove the days. and plenty of time for the bodies and equipment to be flown there, things set up and the soldiers ski back
Problem is, the cover up was done in a hurry and not well done. which is why the evidence doesn't fit the scene.
Given the amazing cover ups done in history, like the suicide victim that made the German's believe a different location for the invasion to the fact that Patton had a fake army that they managed to convince the axis was real, this isn't even a blip on the difficult cover up business.