As a backpacker (a wimpy one, with a bad back), I am curious if anyone has ever calculated the weight carried by the group, and therefore the likely weight of their backpacks?
Dear Zorah !
In order to know the estimated weight of their backpacks is not necessary calculate something, especially since the weight of even individual items will now be difficult know. A lot of details are lost and forgotten, and what is left also has varieties that will not give an exact result.
It's very easy as find out by statistical method. For example, I had experience of similar travels at that time and I had to function in commissions that assessed such travels. So I can easily remember what happened. At that time (1955 ... 1963) the usual maximum load for a man was (and on this indicator the degree of readiness of the team was estimated) 32 ... 35 kgf (2270 ... 2480 pdl ) or 32 ... 35 kgf (70.5 ... 77 lb), and for a woman was 25 ... 27 kgf (1773 ... 1915 pdl ) or 32 ... 35 kgf (55 ... 60 lb). If the group thought it would fit into smaller weight, but not very much, it was the best measure, and if the weight was greater, it meant that the group goes with lot of overload and the success of the journey becomes doubtful. Even then there were trips that required more initial weight. But it meant that it had be transported separately, for example on special sleds. Such devices could not have been successfully used on all routes. Where there is a lot of tundra and there is no forest, or steep parts of mountains, it could be used successfully. But in forests and steep mountains, it made movement very difficult and was not used.
If we take Dyatlov's group, then according to Yuri Yudin, downstairs the boys had backpacks at the initial part up to 30 kgf (2128 pdl), and up to 23 kgf (1631 pdl) for the girls when they left the Second Northern village.
Using sledges in the mountains is very troublesome because if you climb up mountain, you need more strength than carrying extra weight on your back, and descending from the mountain with sledges on steep slope is great agony. They always go away to the side, brake for rocks or bushes, turn over and have to walk lot extra put them to place. I have suffered lot with such sleds in the mountains of the Polar Urals and Putorana, but they helped me very well in my travels in the Arctic ocean (Franz Josef Land islands, North Earth islands). There were almost no steep mountains on our routes, so sledges helped to carry the cargo very much.
If you go back to what was in the journey of the Dyatlov group, you should take into account the following features:
1.They had journey in the forest zone, where deep snow and lot of interfering objects.
2.Kolevatov tried make an improvisation on the design of the sled, but it never led to success for the cargo transportation in the journey.
3.Kolevatov tried to make it out of two, they didn't have any more, like spare skis.
4.A little later in this case (after about 3 ... 5 years), construction of several skis and specially prepared objects was invented, which allowed transport the injured person, using lot of force and not paying attention to any troubles. It was case of force majeure, so we had use it. Under normal conditions, it was not used during the journey.
5.For difficult journeys later, special sleds were used, with good flowability of snow, which were not available in 1959.
Honestly just the tent and heater alone would have been enough for me to turn back with Yudin...
I'm very interested in how you were going meet to Yuri Yudin?
(I'm aware that pack weights don't have any real bearing on the pass incident. It would just be interesting to know---and probably one more reason to admire them!)
What happened in the practice of those years in real life, I set out in the text above.
Unfortunately, now there are lot of writers who write on this topic, completely without any experience, not having made any such (sometimes no) journey and writing frank nonsense. The reference to Irina Lobacheva is great example of this. I think you should not trust any author who has no personal experience, but writes the first abstract thing that comes to mind. Unfortunately, there are very few professionals and even fewer of them are writers.
Average people are bored read what they write, so they read more fiction writers. But it is not right take it as facts.