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Dyatlov Pass Forum

Author Topic: Why did they turn back the day before?  (Read 970 times)

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January 18, 2022, 07:22:49 PM
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Manti


Quote
31 January 1959
 Weather today is a bit worse – wind (west), snowing (probably from the pines), since the sky is perfectly clear.
 Started relatively early (around 10 am). Got back on the Mansi trail. (Up to now we are following a Mansi trail on which not so long passed a hunter with deer.)
 Yesterday it seems we stumbled upon his resting stop. Deer didn't go any further. The hunter took the beaten trail by himself, we are following in his steps.
 Had a surprisingly good overnight, air is warm and dry, though it’s -18°C to -24°C. Walking is especially hard today. We can't see the trail, have to grope our way through at times. Can’t do more than 1.52 km (1 mile) per hour.
 Trying out new ways to clear the path. The first in line drops his backpack, skis forward for five minutes, comes back for a 10-15 minute break, then catches up with the group. That’s one way to keep laying ski tracks non-stop. Hard on the second hiker though, who has to follow the new trail with full gear on his back. We gradually leave the Auspiya valley, it’s upwards all the way but goes rather smoothly. Thin birch grove replaces firs. The end of forest is getting closer. Wind is western, warm, piercing, with speed like the draft from airplanes at take-off. Firn, open spaces. I can't even think of setting up storage here. It's nearly 4. Have to start looking for a place to pitch the tent. We go south in the Auspiya valley. Seems this place has the deepest snow. Wind not strong, snow 1.22 m deep. We’re exhausted, but start setting up for the night. Firewood is scarce, mostly damp firs. We build the campfire on the logs, too tired to dig a fire pit. Dinner’s in the tent. Nice and warm. Can’t imagine such comfort on the ridge, with howling wind outside, hundreds of kilometers away from human settlements.
 Dyatlov (last record in the diary)


I think this aspect has not been explored enough, but is very important. The day before the incident, they reached the Dyatlov Pass itself (pass in the spur between the Auspiya and Lozva valleys). Instead of continuing and camping in the Lozva valley, which was very close and on their planned route, they turned back. Above is the diary entry stating this, but it doesn't give a reason.


Why would they turn back and lose a day?
The searchers' camp was in the Auspiya valley and every day, they went up to the tent (which was further past the ridge), searched for long hours and then went back down. It seems like it's not difficult. Is there a record of a searcher who was unable to reach the search area due to weather, impassable terrain, or any other reason? What caused the difficulty for  the Dyatlov group?


The next day, they built the labaz/cache, and walked up the slope, crossed the spur and set up camp (or set up a labaz according to the theory in Igor & Teddy's book). The labaz that was found was just stuff covered by snow, couldn't have taken long to set up. This is the same route the searchers took every day, and yet the Dyatlov Group failed to reach the Lozva valley again! To me it seems like something was already wrong... But what could it be?
 

January 19, 2022, 02:44:26 AM
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Игорь Б.


Потому что через час уже начало бы темнеть и они вернулись в лес, чтобы не ночевать на горе без дров и на очень сильном ветру (подобном скорости взлетающего самолета).
Кроме того, они собирались устроить настоящий лабаз - на деревьях, а не в снегу. Но как известно это у них не получилось.
The answers to all the questions related to the death of Dyatlov group:
http://1723.ru/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=5133&view=findpost&p=110407
Evidence of the death of the Dyatlov group from the Wolverine chemical weapon:
http://1723.ru/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=5133&view=findpost&p=69286
 

January 19, 2022, 04:09:58 PM
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Manti


Because in an hour it would have already started to get dark and they returned to the forest, so as not to spend the night on the mountain without firewood and in a very strong wind (similar to the speed of a plane taking off).In addition, they were going to set up a real warehouse-in the trees, not in the snow. But as you know, they did not succeed.
I didn't know they tried to make a real labaz in the trees. Were some wooden structures found that suggest this?




Your explanation for turning back makes sense. Nightfall was close, and they chose to return to an area they already knew. But then, the next day they were caught out again?

Distance to the Lozva valley forest from the tree line of the Auspiya valley is not great:


From photos it doesn't look like the weather was any better, and yet they now choose to camp on the slope instead of going to the forest, even though it's not further away (if they set out to the North instead of North-west), and requires less elevation gain:


For me this part is hard to understand. Looks like they were either lost, Igor changed his mind from the previous day and now wanted to camp in the wind, or there was some other reason to avoid the Lozva valley.
 

January 27, 2022, 07:46:54 PM
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GlennM


I looked at available maps and diagrams. I discount theories of a cover up and the tent planted on 1079. From what I saw, the original planned route would take the hikers through deep snow, a tangle of forest and cross at least one stream, then a climb to reach their goal. Too, there was no trail to follow in the Lozva and they could not decode Mansi sign. It is far easier and more practical to traverse 1079 above the tree line which is open country. Igor made the right decision in that regard. When things went wrong, they underestimated their distance from the treeline where they could have fire.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2022, 05:56:46 PM by GlennM »
 

January 31, 2022, 11:38:58 AM
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Manti


I looked at available maps and diagrams. I discount theories of a cover up and the tent planted on 1079. From what I saw, the original planned route would take the hikers through deep snow, a tangle of forest and cross at least one stream, then climb to reach their goal. Too, there was no trail to follow elow and they could not decode Mansi sign. It is far easier and more practical to traverse 1079 above the tree line which is open country. Igor made the right decision in that regard. When things went wrong, they underestimated their distance from the treeline where they could have fire.

They managed deep snow on their way to the Dyatlov Pass fine. With skis, it doesn't matter how deep it is  because the ski keeps you on top of the snow.
As for the stream, they crossed another stream, probably several, on their way to the Auspiya valley. But certainly one, they write about it in their diary. But they could also have just walked along the stream (tributary of Lozva).. that's where their planned route apparently went towards Otorten... of course if the stream has tributaries itself, then they will inevitably have to cross it.
The Mansi sign was about the number of deer killed on a hunt as far as I know, not a navigational sign.

 

January 31, 2022, 02:33:17 PM
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GlennM


Manti, good points. I am reminded that they had to rotate positions during the hike periodically replacing the trail breaker. I seem to recall that they also took an extra rest day along the way. It leads me to think if they worked smarter rather than harder, they would achieve their goal. I think having a line of sight to my destination would be very motivating. Alternately,  snow plowing through a serpentine tangle of trees in a forest with no guide but a compass makes for a superb challenge, but an inefficient use of energy and supplies. Do you feel that the presence of the tent on 1079 really settles the question about their actual route? Every theory I've read about, mine included, has holes that defy logic or the sense that is common. What a chase this is, yes?
 

February 03, 2022, 12:23:40 PM
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Manti


Manti, good points. I am reminded that they had to rotate positions during the hike periodically replacing the trail breaker. I seem to recall that they also took an extra rest day along the way. It leads me to think if they worked smarter rather than harder, they would achieve their goal. I think having a line of sight to my destination would be very motivating. Alternately,  snow plowing through a serpentine tangle of trees in a forest with no guide but a compass makes for a superb challenge, but an inefficient use of energy and supplies. Do you feel that the presence of the tent on 1079 really settles the question about their actual route? Every theory I've read about, mine included, has holes that defy logic or the sense that is common. What a chase this is, yes?
Indeed, what a chase!

I really can't get myself to accept a "staged scene" scenario where the tent is planted on the slope, no matter how little it makes sense for them to have camped there.

To demonstrate my concern better, I made this amateur drawing:


Once they cross the pass, it's downhill along Lozva... yes it might have been deep snow and a tangle of trees, in any case easier than their route up to the pass. But they turn back?

Were they lost? If there's no incident and they continue on, they still wasted 2 days, for what? To camp in the cold wind with no stove?
« Last Edit: February 03, 2022, 12:35:09 PM by Manti »
 

February 03, 2022, 03:11:55 PM
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GlennM


Manti, your drawing suggests to me that backtracking and ultimately camping on higher ground made strategic sense. They could have been lost, but I doubt it. I think plowing snow just wore them down so going upslope is smarter, not harder. The team laid their cache and kept hard won altitude. Perhaps the onset of hypothermia and a significant fright sent them scrambling for safety and the warmth if a fire. I could see them going 50 or even a hundred yards, but all the way to the woods with bo boots? It defys reason.
 

February 17, 2022, 11:17:12 AM
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Charles


Hello Manti
Once they cross the pass, it's downhill along Lozva... yes it might have been deep snow and a tangle of trees, in any case easier than their route up to the pass. But they turn back?
They wanted to make it to the summit of Kholat Syakhl, the next day. They gave up Otorten and wanted to make Kholat Syakhl as a substitute, for the hike not to be a complete failure. So, in that case, it was the most remote camp night of the hike, before to directly head back to Vishay. The storage means they wanted to go back on their tracks after climbing Kholat Syakhl, because the initial planned route was a loop.

Once they gave up Otorten, they aimed at Kholat Syakhl, make a storage, set camp on the slope, next morning they were supposed to reach the summit of Kholat Syakhl, come back to the storage and then reach Vishay on their previous track (not on the loop route).

When Dyatlov wrote on January 31:

"We’re exhausted, but start setting up for the night. Firewood is scarce, mostly damp firs. We build the campfire on the logs, too tired to dig a fire pit. Dinner’s in the tent. Nice and warm. Can’t imagine such comfort on the ridge, with howling wind outside, hundreds of kilometers away from human settlements."

he mentioned contradictory elements. Some of them indicate how bad was their situation, other are reassuring. Signs of alarm and misleading signs of confort... But the next day, it could have been impossible to counterbalance the signs of alarm, maybe because of Dubinina physically breaking down (who was previously so tired she had no choice but to endure a clash with the group) and Zolotaryov (who was older)...
« Last Edit: February 17, 2022, 03:37:51 PM by Charles »
 

February 17, 2022, 02:17:00 PM
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Игорь Б.


They wanted to make it to the summit of Kholat Syakhl, the next day. They gave up Otorten and wanted to make Kholat Syakhl as a substitute, for the hike not to be a complete failure.
От лабаза до вершины Холатчахля меньше двух километров. На такие вылазки палатку с собой не берут.
Кроме того, палатка была обнаружена на прямой лабаз - Отортен, при этом Холатчахль (1079) уже остался позади:
http://1723.ru/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=5133&view=findpost&p=65394

Масленников очень точно нарисовал схему. Когда в 2013 году было найдено место палатки схема Масленникова подтвердилась. Дятловцы шли прямо по компасу на Отортен:
http://1723.ru/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=5133&view=findpost&p=66402
The answers to all the questions related to the death of Dyatlov group:
http://1723.ru/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=5133&view=findpost&p=110407
Evidence of the death of the Dyatlov group from the Wolverine chemical weapon:
http://1723.ru/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=5133&view=findpost&p=69286
 

February 17, 2022, 03:44:09 PM
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GlennM


Charles,

We’re exhausted, but start setting up for the night. Firewood is scarce, mostly damp firs. We build the campfire on the logs, too tired to dig a fire pit. Dinner’s in the tent. Nice and warm. Can’t imagine such comfort on the ridge, with howling wind outside, hundreds of kilometers away from human settlements."

I interpret this passage as meaning that because of exhaustion the team would forgo the slog through the woods and cold camp on the ridge to salvage the hike. The Can't imagine reference, suggests that yes, we are going there and yes, it will be harsh. Taking the high ground is more energy efficient for the hikers because they won't plow snow like in the valley. They complain of wet wood and thus can't do a fire at 880 on the last day. Once the tent was pitched, anybody making a 2 mile round trip for, wood would be folly. Igor D could read a compass so diverting to 880 was not an accident as was the pitching of the tent there. Hunger, cold and the prospect of not achieving grade 3 might indeed cause division in the group.  Having a hissy fit,,leaving the tent and walking down to the trees is one way to prove a point,,especially if followed. From the evidence of the three sets of hikers, the trail, tree and ravine. I would argue they all kept their wits until their bodies quit on them.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2022, 05:59:57 PM by GlennM »
 

February 17, 2022, 04:34:17 PM
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Charles


Hello Igor,

do skiers with heavy backpacks ever use compass to trace a direct route through snowy mountains? The initially planned route was following the curves of the valleys and ridges. The plan was to reach Otorten by the valleys, then, going southbound, to take a route from Oterten to Oyko-Chakur, following the ridges, Kholat Syakhl being a step on the crests route, then return from Oyko-Chakur to Vishay by the valleys. They never intended to take a direct route, cutting through the slopes, as progressing by the valleys and crest is difficult enough... And the main part of the hike was the segment Otorten - Oyko-Chakur by the crests.

Greetings.
 

February 17, 2022, 07:30:48 PM
Reply #12
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Manti


Charles,

We’re exhausted, but start setting up for the night. Firewood is scarce, mostly damp firs. We build the campfire on the logs, too tired to dig a fire pit. Dinner’s in the tent. Nice and warm. Can’t imagine such comfort on the ridge, with howling wind outside, hundreds of kilometers away from human settlements."

I interpret this passage as meaning that because of exhaustion the team would forgo the slog through the woods and cold camp on the ridge to salvage the bike. The Can't imagine reference, suggests that yes, we are going there and yes, it will be harsh. Taking the high ground is more energy efficient for the hikers because they won't plow snow like in the valley. They complain of wet wood and thus can't do a fire at 880 on the last day. Once the tent was pitched, anybody making a 2 mile round trip for, wood would be folly. Igor D could read a compass so diverting to 880 was not an accident as was the pitching of the tent there. Hunger, cold and the prospect of not achieving grade 3 might indeed cause division in the group.  Having a hussy fit,,leaving the tent and walking down to the trees is one way to prove a point,,especially if followed. From the evidence of the three sets of hikers, the trail, tree and ravine. I would argue they all kept their waits until their bodies quit on them.
By 880, do you mean the pass?

They camped along the Auspiya in the valley somewhere, then they ascended to the pass (780m) but descended again to the valley and camped there on their penultimate day (650m), set up the cache. Then next day they ascended again and camped on Kholat, at an elevation of about 900m.

Otorten is 1230m high. Following the Lozva means potentially descending to 450m. Following the ridge still means descending to 790m. (Basing these numbers on contemporary CyclOSM map data).


So I argue that they would have to lose some of the elevation they gained anyway. Plus, there is a problem with continuing above the treeline: there wasn't enough snow to ski on the ridge, and there are rock ridges in other places closer to the treeline:

Images from https://dyatlovpass.com/search-photos
 

February 17, 2022, 08:56:01 PM
Reply #13
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GlennM


Hi Manti,
My 880 is your 900. As II look at the photos you provide( thanks), it tells me that trekking on foot, like the person in the photo may not be as fast as skis on good snow, but it makes for steady progress. It would be like this, " ski when you can, walk when you must." They had lost a day previously, so making progress would be important. Perhaps the planned route would be more interesting, but a compass and line of sight would help make up lost time. Of course, they never got the chance to make it up. It seems to me that the hikers went to the pass and returned to cache their supplies in a relatively hurried fashion. I think they were resolved to make a dash for their goal instead of a slog through waist deep,snow. They got caught out by adverse weather.
 

February 17, 2022, 11:35:50 PM
Reply #14
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Игорь Б.


do skiers with heavy backpacks ever use compass to trace a direct route through snowy mountains?
Да, когда видимость в метель составляет 30-50 метров остаётся идти только по компасу.

При хорошей видимости они пошли бы так, как сейчас все ходят на Отортен:
http://1723.ru/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=5133&view=findpost&p=72385
The answers to all the questions related to the death of Dyatlov group:
http://1723.ru/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=5133&view=findpost&p=110407
Evidence of the death of the Dyatlov group from the Wolverine chemical weapon:
http://1723.ru/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=5133&view=findpost&p=69286
 

February 18, 2022, 12:25:43 AM
Reply #15
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Charles


Hunger, cold and the prospect of not achieving grade 3 might indeed cause division in the group.
It seems they were too weak and too slow. At first, they accused the horse of uncle Slava to slow them down. Then they accused Thibeaux and Kolevatov, and punished them for slowing them. Then they couldn't get up in the morning. Then Lyuda was so exhausted she had to pay the price with being humiliated and ostracized. Then they were too tired to dig a pit for the fire. They were always late on the schedule, from the beginning: "In general, we had to go to 2nd North, but it was getting dark and we decided to stop at the 41st."

And they were weak as a group. Zina kew it from the beginning: "The group is ok, I don't know how will it be the moment we go. Will we quarrel. After all, Kolevatov is with us." "We will quarrel." with no mark of interrogation. And Kolevatov ready as a scapegoat. The real shame being the accusation and punishment of Thibeaux and Kolevatov - that was ugly (Thibeaux began to write a diary that same day, and it's easy to imagine the first lines...).

Yes, they were young and good athletes, but studying at university, days in classroom and evenings at library, or working at some research center... They were not Mansi, not loggers living in the outdoors, in the Taiga all year long. The weakness of the group is very underestimated, they are so many signs of division and weariness in the diaries. The point noted by Manti makes sense according to me, but I could be wrong, as everything is always equivocal in this strange and sad story.
 
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February 18, 2022, 08:08:02 AM
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GlennM


Charles, your explanation far surpassed mine. I commend you. I am reminded that for most of the trek, they were transported. Only at the end did they have to individually push through on foot and ski.  The group was packing a heavy tent, a metal stove, clothes, food etc. For them, going uphill in the Auspiya was the first real challenge. They were not equal to it as a group, I think. They gained the ridge top and likely were put off by the magnitude of their overall quest. What to do? They cache and dash!  Then they camp and crash. It could very well be that they did not cut their way out of the tent at the end. The handling of it by rescuers and the rifling of the goods within confused the theories. They may have underestimated their solidarity as well as their circumstance. Bad weather became the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. It must have made more sense to run for the valley from the tent since the wind was at their backs, as opposed to dashing back to the cache over the pass.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2022, 08:12:23 AM by GlennM »
 
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