I'm new and completely late to the party, but I've really been thinking about the tent today. I can't find Loose Cannon's post on the tent itself and why it wouldn't be a key factor in this case, but the more I study and think, the more I have to agree that the tent as A TENT is just distracting us.
It seems like most scenarios place The Nine sleeping when the event happened, therefore, why they were undressed. However. What if that's wrong? The autopsies noted that they'd eaten approximately 6-7 hours prior to death. But what if that was lunch? In reading the diaries, there's a lot of mention of singing around the campfire BUT only once all the work is done. I think it was in Lyuda's diary? And she mentions that it was kind of a buzzkill and not all the guys were fond of the idea. I also read that they had difficulty with travel, due to the rivers not being completely frozen and making it impossible to walk on ice. Bear with me here.
What if (and this who case is one giant 'what if' their shoes were wet? The conditions suck that night. We know they tried to build a fire, because the pits were found. The scenario could be along the lines of, accidentally getting their feet wet in a partially unfrozen creek--much like the creek where the Rav4 were found--and because of conditions and the high risk of continuing to move WITH wet feet, they decide to make camp. Pitch the tent, start a fire. Remove their shoes so they can dry. This wasn't their first time at the rodeo, so to speak, and they're going to know they need to 1) have shelter and two) be dry. Dyatlov takes his coat off because, in between setting up camp and going down to the cedar, he could get too sweaty. The flashlight there? Possibly because the sun is getting ready to set---not already in the dark. We focus so much on the tent as something having happened INSIDE. But the factor that started the downfall....what if it was something that happened before they even got into the tent? Wet shoes/clothes. An injury from trying to walk through the snow and falling/getting hurt. The group knows the Mansi are close by and, if a few headed down to try and get help for an injured friend---only to find foe, not friend, and then are attacked? Yes, Zolotaryov still has his camera around his neck and we initially think it was because he grabbed it when he left the tent. But what if he'd never taken it off his neck?
I feel like a lot of scenarios are based on the fact that it's everything is business as usual until ONE MOMENT. But since all of them died, leaving little clues, I feel like it could have just as easily been a gradual breakdown. Something they thought they could handle, like a simple injury or wet shoes, which then led to a snowball of effect of problems that simply got out of control. Whether that be drawing too much attention to themselves or just sheer panic that someone accidentally died? Maybe everything looks normal and tidy because they didn't have the opportunity yet for it to GET out of control (i.e. ripping the tent, everyone running out into the night). They'd done this before. They're not going to leave their shelter in the cold, just as they wouldn't go out underdressed. They know the risks. Also: they write about fixing tears/sewing the tent in the diaries. It was already torn and ripped. And if you don't do a thorough job, your stitches can easily come out; especially if subject to wind and rescuers fussing with it/dragging it behind them.
All the love,