As strange as it may seem (even to myself) there appears to be a Pattern of events supported by some of the finer details that suggests that the group may have been attacked by a large powerful ape like creature. The only known species of ape powerful enough to inflict the injuries (as far as I can tell) is a Gorilla. But if it was a Gorilla then what was it doing on Kholat Syakhl in the middle of the winter? The other possibility is some unknown creature.
I think there is clear evidence of panic at the tent. The scene is chaotic, disorganised. Students flee without proper outdoor clothing and most without footwear. There are cuts in the tent made from inside with a knife? There is a jacket and sneakers left several meters from the tent as if someone grabbed them during their escape only to drop them again shortly afterwards. There is Kolevatov's knife sheath outside the tent, while his knife is found inside the tent. Semyon wears a camera around his neck when he leaves the tent, as if something has caught his interest and that something is worthy of a photograph. Let's not forget the "evening "otorton". Was it planted or does it reflect that one or more of the group had seen something that may have been a Yeti?
The pattern of events at the tent does not lend itself to human involvement. The students leave in a disorganised way. Some have boots, some do not, some carry knives which they later use, as well as a flashlight and matches. Some are better dressed than others. Nothing is taken from the tent, not even money. There are no obvious foot prints of any other humans there. If they had been forced from the tent and sent to their deaths it is unlikely that they would be allowed to leave with knives, flash lights, matches, cameras etc. it is far more likely that there was something that terrified the students and presented an immediate threat to their lives. Hence the level of chaos and disarray at the scene.
The foot prints by all accounts show an orderly decent of the slope. But why would a group of students leave a tent in a state of panic and then calmly walk down the slop? Well, if you presented with the threat of a dangerous creature be it a large ape or a Yeti running away is not a sensible thing to do as this would trigger a response in the creature to attack. Far better to calmly walk away watching your back keeping your head low and trying not to make direct eye contact. And by the way apes have similar bare foot prints to humans, but also tent to knuckle walk unless it was a bipedal Yeti? On the slope there is evidence that they were attacked - the dropped flashlight which was important enough to take with them but not important enough to pick up again after it was dropped? As far as I am aware the flash light was found to be working later during the investigation. I suspect that during these attacks the students fought off their attacker(s), hence the evidence of brawling, punching and kicking maybe to keep their attacker at distance. It is possible that they also split up before they got to the cedar, maybe scattered by the attacker or a deliberate act to prevent the attacker being able to follow all of them together. There is not a lot of evidence either way on this though I think. Rustem may have been severely beaten by the attacker on the slop. His head injury coupled with the fact that he had diffuse bleeding in both temporal muscles suggest that he took a powerful blow to the head while he was on the ground. The blow knocked his head to the ground thus he received injuries on opposite sides of the temporal bone, but more severely on the left I believe. He obviously fought off the attacker as best he could.
The two Yuris climbed the cedar, possibly there were others but Yuris D climbed the cedar even though his fingers and toes were frost bitten. I believe he did this to evade the attacker(s). If the tree was climbed simply to collect fire wood then others better dressed and with no frost bite (even Yuris K) could have climbed the tree to collect fire wood. The skin embedded in the bark of the tree suggests that they did not just climb the tree they scrambled up the tree for safety. The case files suggest that branches were cleared to make a look out and these branches were not used for the fire. By the time the fire was lit the two Yuris who were poorly dressed had probably already lost too much body heat and died of hypothermia. if any of the skin was collected from the tree bark then it may be possible even today to undertake DNA analysis of this to determine who was on the tree. The removal of the clothing from the Yuris is evidence of a logical and normal will to survive, but the use of the clothing ( not all for insulating their bodies) and the unzipped jackets etc suggests that the cold was not the only major threat or concern.
The main consideration at the ravine are the injuries of the rav 4 and in particular Thibo, Lyuda and Semyon. Kolevatov who was less seriously injured (apart from his deformed neck?) appears to have been the last one alive, judging by his embrace of Kolevatov. He probably arranged the injured students lying them beside each other before he himself died of hypothermia. It strange that if humans had been involved they would leave Kolevatov to live after killing the others? There violent deaths on the face of it don't seem to be logical. They appear more like random violent attacks which is more consistent with some wild creature that is not looking to particularly kill everyone. The attacks are more akin to a large ape affirming its dominance and territory.
The injuries themselves are the most interesting.
Thibo's skull injury just happens to be the exact same shape of the pad of the ball of thumb - a very large thumb on a hand that is 30 cm long. The same size as a large Gorilla or ape hand. The force required to crush a skull between the hands is over 450kg. Very very humans are capable of that. A crush injury using the hands would also explain the lack of any soft tissue damage. The impact of the head from a fall or a blunt instrument would likely result in some soft tissue damage, but Thibo was wearing two hats. Thibo had no other major injuries on his body that you might also expect from a fall. Thibo's injury combined with both Lyuda and Semyon's are very suspicious indeed. Lyuda flail just, with clean straight fracture lines suggest an impact of tremendous force. Probably greater tha 800kg and most likely even in excess of that. But also the damage to facial tissues suggest that Kyuda was dragged violently around on the ground. The same is true for Senyon but to a slightly lesser extent. It is extremely unlikely that Thibo, Lyuda and Semyon all fell at the same time sustaining their injuries with no other injuries to handls, wrists, ankles or limbs as these are common injuries when people fall and attempt to break their fall with hands and legs as they hit the ground. What are the odds of them all falling together and none of them sustaining any injuries to limbs? Also, if humans had been involved how did they deliver such massive blows which are clearly beyond human capability. And if therer were humans there why would they use primitive methods to kill them. No stab wounds, no gun shots etc?
An ape or ape like creature on the hand has a clear pattern to their aggression. When they attack they knock their foes to the ground, drag them around violently and beat them with powerful blows to the body. This is exactly what we see with these injuries. The only thing that is missing however are ape type bite marks. Apes do bite, but not always.
Rustems head injury and scratches to the forehead are also consistent with this type of attack, but again not as severe. Maybe he was able to fend off the attack to some extent.
I he thus kind of summarises my thoughts on this theory so far.