I’m somewhat confused by the fact that everyone is calculating differences in snow depths between what may have been when they either dug or found the snow den to what it was when the bodies were found. There were snowstorms in the time between those two events as well as a spring thaw. Unless we know how much snow fell and how much snow thawed, all we are left with are assumptions based on rough estimates. Considering what we’re dealing with, even being off by a little amount could change the dynamics significantly.
Secondly, I don’t doubt for a second that water can move a human body. I do doubt that it could move a body, but not the loose items of clothing on the den floor. They were not smashed into the floor. Once the body slid off it, if there was even a body on it, the garment would have been carried downstream as well. And I’m sorry, but the placement of those pads, four of them in each one of the corners, is a bit too symmetrical for me to believe that clothes and tree branches just happen to fall or be cast off like that. And I have yet to see an explanation for why they cut clothes off their dead friends or even ripped their own clothes in half and/or discarded them all over the place. The case file reads like a modern day Hansel and Gretel story, follow the breadcrumbs (or clothes, in this instance) to find the den. Did Luda believe she was wearing too many clothes, so she ripped her sweater in half? If she didn’t need it for something else, then there’s no reason she would have done that.
As far as there being pockets of empty air and den collapses, yes, these are possible, but so are a lot of other things. However, I have become extremely suspicious of any theory that has them buried in snow, as it seems to be the one theory that keeps getting pushed time and time again. First it was an avalanche at the tent, then it was a slab avalanche at the tent, and now it’s an avalanche at the den. If that’s ever put into serious question, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone didn’t start arguing that snow fell from the cedar and caused the injuries.
I agree, however, that the only way they could have built that den is that it is either a natural formation or required a small amount of digging through loose powdery snow. It’s not just a lack of snow shovels, but also the lack of proper attire coupled with the fact that they had already walked a fair distance through freezing temperatures from the tent to the cedar. Digging in snow with their bare hands or even gloves would have dropped their body temperature even more. The most likely scenario is that they would have froze to death before they got very far in the construction.
I’m all for simple explanations. And I realize we will not have all the answers or there won’t be contradictions even if we happen to alight on what really did happen. However, it should at least answer the most pertinent questions. The theory of a den collapse doesn’t answer what happened at the tent that put them in that situation to begin with. It doesn’t answer why Luda’s brown sweater was literally the most radiated of all the clothing. It doesn’t explain why the protocol to close the case stated she was wearing George’s radiated clothing when neither the official autopsy, the description submitted by the people who found her body, or the radiation testing support this. Was that just an honest mistake or was that put in because radiation on George’s clothing is a lot easier to explain than radiation on Luda’s clothing? Why does the written description of how the bodies were found in the ravine differ from what the pictures show? They say that the men’s’ heads were lying north along the stream and Luda’s head was lying in the opposite direction against the current? She was lying perpendicular to the men, so if the current was flowing north and her head was pointing south, the men’s heads were facing east. Again, a honest mistake? Is it just a coincidence that the bodies, if found in the position described in the case file, would have made the theory of them being carried there by the natural movement of water to be more likely? The water would have had a lot easier time of doing that if it wasn’t facing the resistance of the full horizontal length of three grown adult male bodies stacked one after the other (If you hold your hand outside the window of a moving car, you’ll understand what I mean. Turn your palm to the wind and there’s a lot of resistance. Turn your hand so the wind hits one side and there’s a lot less resistance). How many mistakes can be explained away before we’re allowed to wonder if they’re really mistakes? It doesn’t answer why there were foot bindings found at the scene that belonged to no one. It doesn’t explain why the searchers would have dug ten centimeters down to find some clothing and then not used the avalanche probes, but instead decided to just dig down ten meters more without any idea something was even down there other than the discarded clothes. They had found discarded clothes all over the place. Were they digging ten meter holes at every spot where clothes had been found? I would think the avalanche probes were there to save them from expending their energy fruitlessly. So the one place they dug just happened to be where the den was? Common sense would suggest they would find the bodies first, not flattened branches and clothes under ten meters of snow.