Surprised there isn't more discussion about Wilkins' book on the forum, maybe an accidental scenario is not glamorous enough... but the navigation details answer a lot of questions that keep coming up - why was the tent on the slope, etc.
It made me realise the weather was worse than I thought that night, and also the previous day. It wasn't a calm night where murderers and spies could meet up and chase after one another, it was a freezing cold blizzard with deadly windchill.
It's obvious when you look at the photos from just a few hours before.
I couldn't understand why they lugged the stove up the mountain, above the tree line, with no firewood. Of course the answer is obvious, they DID have firewood and they used it. And I can easily imagine a stove incident in those conditions, if they packed away the chimney.
It explains the satirical newspaper, why the tent was collapsed, unfastened guy lines, snow heaped on the tent, cuts in the tent, why they abandoned it so quickly, why the group split, why there was a fight, Yuri's pulmonary edema, why the bodies were dirty, etc.
Also the lack of diary entries, they were too exhausted to fill out their personal diaries after side-stepping up the slope, and the group diary was their official record for the qualification so they didn't mention the navigation shortcuts and adjustments they were making.
Imagine jumping out of a warm tent into those conditions, it would be horrendous. How long would they stay there trying to clear the tent? They probably thought we've got to find shelter and build a fire, then return later, but the fire didn't work... it was too exposed, took too long to get going, they couldn't gather enough wood, and they froze.
You can argue they would have grabbed more clothes, but it made no difference to the outcome. You could also question why a cover-up, it's probably because of who they were (the very details that point us in the wrong direction towards spy theories), and the fact nobody could explain what happened.
If this scenario is the answer, they had no chance of survival but look how hard they tried. Great book, it's made me re-think. One more step down the rabbit-hole... I'm sure the next one will do the same!