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Author Topic: A version of the "avalanche" theory I could actually believe  (Read 4098 times)

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December 02, 2022, 04:41:12 PM
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RMK


When I first got really interested in the the Dyatlov Pass Incident in the Summer of 2020, I contemptuously dismissed "avalanche" theories out-of-hand.  In January 2021, Puzrin & Gaume's scientific paper persuaded me that a "slab-slide" avalanche was indeed possible on that slope of Kholat Syakhl, and I acknowledged slightly more respect for avalanche theories than I did before.  However, I find the Puzrin-Gaume article more informative about what future visitors to Kholat Syakhl ought to do (i.e., do NOT camp on the slope, since slab avalanches are actually possible there) than about what happened to the Dyatlov Nine.

Whilst I cannot gainsay Puzrin & Gaume's science concerning the possibility of slab avalanches at the Dyatlovites' campsite, I am quite confident in dismissing the whole idea of a slab avalanche that both (1) happened at the campsite, AND (2) crushed the most seriously injured of the Dyatlovites.  IF we accept the premise that the Dyatlovites pitched their tent on the slope of Kholat Syakhl on February 1st, 1959 (and I am not sure that I do), then the possibility of a slab avalanche crushing people in the tent does not fit with the rest of the known facts.  Eight or nine pairs of footprints were observed descending the hill from the campsite.  If Thibeaux-Brignolles and Dubinina sustained their injuries in the tent, they sure as hell weren't walking down the hill (or anywhere); if Zolotaryov sustained his injuries in the tent, he could probably only walk down the hill with assistance.

Now, having said (written?) all that...consider that perhaps the mere word "avalanche" greatly overstates how much snow actually moved during the event that triggered the Incident.  In other words, perhaps what happened was indeed some kind of "avalanche", except that "avalanche" connotes movement of far more snow than that which factually did move to trigger the Incident.

Although I do not agree with every factual assertion it makes, I submit for consideration this post, which I quote here in pertinent part:
Quote
Basically, the avalanche theory is that there was a very small avalanche right in the vicinity of the tent.

When they pitched their tent, they dug down into the snow to get to a level place to build the tent (you can see this in the pics from when they were setting up camp) which destabilized the mountainside, because then right were the tent was, there's nothing supporting the snow above. Winds picked up after dark, shifting the snow into drifts, and the destabilized snow slid down, but just a few feet, landing on their tent and partially collapsing it, but stopping before it went further down the mountain.

They dig their way out of the tent, cutting their own exit (which, by the way, was started with a knife, but the long vertical damages are tears, to they basically ripped their way out, which might make sense if the canvas is literally laying on top of them), but can't manage to unbury it in the dark because the more they dig, the more snow slides down hill to replace what they just dug, and they don't have any tools.

If you look at the diagram of the tent, some of the key supplies - like shoes - are on the uphill side of the tent, so that might explain why they couldn't get to them.

This would have been mostly minor injuries. So, it really only explains why they left the tent. The things like the crushed rib cages would have had a different explanation. Perhaps them digging into the side of the ravine to make a snow cave destabilized the slope, bringing enough weight down on them to break ribs, so, basically, a second avalanche right in the vicinity of the ravine. Or, perhaps the water below had created a void in the snow that broke under their weight, and they fell bringing a bunch of snow down that landed on top of them.

Those people weren't moved after they died, and they died very rapidly, so they had to have been injured in the ravine itself.

Thoughts?

Edit: grammar
« Last Edit: December 02, 2022, 06:38:18 PM by RMK »
 

December 02, 2022, 06:11:31 PM
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Ziljoe


A good post RMK and appreciated.

The word avalanche provokes in our minds a a larch mass of snow , destroying everything in its path. I do not think  the word avalanche suits the proposed argument in our mind set.

A snow slip may have been enough to stimulate the DP9 to leave with haste. The slope futher above their tent is steeper, they may not have known exactly where they pitched their tent at the time due to the Visibility. Any minor snow slip may have put doubt in their minds, and they decided to move to the woods. It is plausible given what their perspective might have been at that moment in time.

I certainly don't think they sustained the injuries of the ribs at that point. The foot prints as recorded do not support it. As complex as this case is with all the variables, making a fire, a den, the bodies under a different consistency of snow with the rib fractures, along with the activity at the ceder to build the den , fire, for branches etc , looks like a sensible sequence for survival.

If we assume they chose to camp on the slope ( which I'm starting to think they may not have) . Then they  should have taken wood with them. They had lightened there back packs at the labaz , a few logs would have been no hardship. The distance to their goal was only 6 miles and the shelter of the wood was only a mile away, down hill. In my mind it's such a short distance and what was their plans for the following day/ night? To move 3 miles, pitch the tent again. Go to the top of the mountain and leave their written post at the top whilst retrieving  the previous hikers  bookmark? I understand their equipment was heavy but on skis they could do the last bit quickly . It's such a short distance. 

 
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December 03, 2022, 06:07:46 PM
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GlennM


Yes,  they made their way above the tree line. it was for a practical reason. I believe it was to make up for lost time.getting to and from Ortoten.  It was probably a very good tactic. I recall that they were forced to use a relay technique during the hike to plow though deep snow. They couldn't go over the frozen tributaries like they wanted to. It was slow, hungry going. Offloading at the labaz was certainly beneficial in terms of load. While camped at 880 on 1079, they could survey the land and decide if keeping to the high ground would be in their best interest. I believe it was. They could loop Ortoten in a day and even bring back firewood for a comfortable evening. It did not work out that way. I believe they abandoned their tent because when the slab slip happened, they were in no position to do anything about it just then. Better to hide out in the woods and come back in daylight for damage control. I believe they felt that the trip could be salvaged, even if they lost another day repairing the tent and clearing their camp. It seems to not have worked that way. Below, the fire at the cedar was insufficient. The group split up. The clock was running, sapping their strength every minute. Mistakes were made, the price was paid. In the end they had exhausted themselves and had no one to turn to. Heroically, they tried to regain the tent, but all perished.
 

February 12, 2023, 08:13:55 AM
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eurocentric


I don't see how a slab slip could possibly have occurred on 1079 and for a variety of reasons. The science may be sound enough, but there's no evidence it occurred there.

One of the key issues I take with the theory is how it is suggested that 3 week's worth of fresh snow fall perfectly hid the event, filling in the void which would be left above the tent, and doing this so perfectly that there was no dip in the snow surface, any lip or edge to this infill. And all this while footprints on the other side of the tent remained uncovered.

What I cannot begin to believe is that when men stood on this area of fresh snowfall they didn't notice any difference in compressive density underfoot compared to the surrounding snow crust. Freshly fallen snow is 95% air, it is less dense and weighs less than snow crust which has had most of the air slowly squeezed out. Either their feet should sink much deeper into this new stuff, or if temperatures are particularly low, it should have a crunchiness as it gives way and alert them that something happened here, something changed.

To imagine 15 or 20 diferent men stood around that tent at various stages, some of them professional outdoorsmen, and nobody noticed this is like imagining some detectives investigating a missing person case who is believed to have come to harm, and they visit their home to conduct a search and go outside into the garden and stand on some freshly dug soil and do not realise they may be above a grave.

Other logic issues with the theory - we know, or can reasonably deduce, that the hikers were sat eating inside their part-supported tent when whatever caused them to leave happened. How did they sustain head injuries and flail chests when sat up, when this is more likely to happen when laid down. Being awake why did they not notice the canvas sagging in both upslope and above their heads with the accumulation of a snow drift said to have initiated the slab slip.

If it is claimed they left without the tools for survival because of the tent being engulfed how did they manage to retrieve torches and some other items. Why didn't the tent parallelogram and instead remain perfectly upright, and why didn't the uphill side tear. And if serious injuries occurred at the tent how did people make it down the mountain and why didn't this show in their footprints, such as staggering, carrying or dragging someone.

All theories have their logical strengths and weaknesses, as far as I can see the slab slip only has one thing going for it, that if the hikers were suddenly buried under snow they would fear suffocation so might cut their way out of the canvas.
My DPI approach - logic, probability and reason.
 

February 12, 2023, 03:59:12 PM
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Ziljoe


 I think the snow is blown off the slope as it is an exposed hill side or from the other side. The snow perpetually erodes what fell before constantly changing .  Snow may fall but depending on the wind the depth will constantly change. An example being the raised foot prints , which means  snow had been blown away or eroded.

If there was a snow slip/slab, I believe traces of it would be easily gone. We also can note the difference of snow cover on Rustem , Zina and Igor. Looking at Rustem we see that he is covered by a substantial amount of snow. We can see the vertical cut edges from spades from the retrieval of  his body, the snow seems firm and has the ability to support a man's weight without collapsing. There is little indentation on the top layer of the snow from foot prints of the searchers.

Whatever type of snow or how it came to cover Rustem, it wasn't there when he finally collapsed. The snow is hard enough to support weight. There is no sign of the searchers sinking into the new  snow. (Or old snow transported by wind)

This also may have happened at the tent. If we assume the last photos are of the hikers digging their foundation for pitching the tent , then there should be at least  a meter of snow above the tent but there is not. The hole for the tent has  basically gone , wind erosion with no slab slide/avalanche . Wind erosion when there was a small slab slide avalanche....? .

Again , if the 2 photos are of the tent floor being dug out in the snow and there was no collapse of any snow , then surely the tent would have been covered completely in the hole that was made?

The torch and other items were most likely on their bodies/clothing at the time of incident. Penknife , matches, gloves, comb, money , coins, string, wire, paper, etc.

The injuries were most likely caused at the ravine, ceder and the return to the tent. Snow collapse in a snow cave at the ravine , the 4 at the ravine were found under several feet of snow, the injuries are consistent with a mass collapsing.

There was a fire at the ceder tree and the evidence of the clothes indicate that they had tried to climb the tree. The branches from the tree were found to be the ones used in the fire. Some of the discarded clothing of the hikers at the ceder had been charged.  To climb the ceder to get the branches seems reasonable.

I can see them panicking if snow fell on their tent , doesn't need to be a lot.



 
 

February 13, 2023, 12:41:21 PM
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eurocentric


You're mistaking the uniformity of the fresh snow on the pass with the two different areas there'd be near the tent, where men would take one step to the side and suddenly be standing on denser snow crust after they'd been standing on less dense fresh snow. Compressive density is a scientific measurement of this resistence in snow. It's a question of them noticing this underfoot in one immediate area.

In the photo's below the tent has been dismantled and dragged to the right, and the contents over to the left. There is no sign of any slab slip event in the middle or difference in compressive density underfoot across that entire surface.

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/3-018.jpg

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/3-019-1.jpg

The tent had two height settings, higher in a forest, lower away from it, and digging a trench would lower its profile further. In the photo below from a 1958 Subpolar trek I am not seeing much more height at the sides and what little difference there is on the slopes of 1079 can be explained by some snow drift, not a slab slip.

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/Dyatlov-pass-1958-Subpolar-Ural-22.jpg
My DPI approach - logic, probability and reason.
 

February 13, 2023, 01:11:02 PM
Reply #6
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Ziljoe


You're mistaking the uniformity of the fresh snow on the pass with the two different areas there'd be near the tent, where men would take one step to the side and suddenly be standing on denser snow crust after they'd been standing on less dense fresh snow. Compressive density is a scientific measurement of this resistence in snow. It's a question of them noticing this underfoot in one immediate area.

In the photo's below the tent has been dismantled and dragged to the right, and the contents over to the left. There is no sign of any slab slip event in the middle or difference in compressive density underfoot across that entire surface.

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/3-018.jpg

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/3-019-1.jpg

The tent had two height settings, higher in a forest, lower away from it, and digging a trench would lower its profile further. In the photo below from a 1958 Subpolar trek I am not seeing much more height at the sides and what little difference there is on the slopes of 1079 can be explained by some snow drift, not a slab slip.

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/Dyatlov-pass-1958-Subpolar-Ural-22.jpg

I disagree, we are not talking about UK snow.  If fresh snow fell, or was blown  on top of Rustem and covered him with 600 mm of snow, then any hole would be covered the same with the same density.  Or at least the potential.

There is no sign of weight of the searchers sinking in the snow around Rustem. It looks like they dug the hole. Enough to stand at the edge with no collapse and no foot prints..the same around the tent.

The photos you post are post excavation.
Would there not be a hole or higher ridge towards the slope assuming that the last two photos suggest they dug down 1 meter?


You say.

"The tent had two height settings, higher in a forest, lower away from it, and digging a trench would lower its profile further. In the photo below from a 1958 Subpolar trek I am not seeing much more height at the sides and what little difference there is on the slopes of 1079 can be explained by some snow drift, not a slab slip."

I don't think the tent had two settings for height regarding Forrest or slope. Rather just what was suitable. It's a choice .digging a hole for the tent has no relevance on high or low setting. It's about making a suitable foundation and minimalizing the effect of wind.

I would argue, any snow slip/slide would be gone in 24 hours of wind or snow. There is a link that demonstrates that Futher along the slope that an avalanche disappeared in a couple of hours. This is from the suggestion that a snow slip did not move the foundation of the tent, perhaps more from the spoil of digging the trench as in the last two photos.

However, I remain comfortable with the fact Rustem was covered with firm snow. They used probs to try and find the other bodies on the slope, not walking about guessing how firm the crust was .
 

February 13, 2023, 01:12:07 PM
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Ziljoe


To add, it isn't necessarily fresh snow.
 

February 13, 2023, 02:43:06 PM
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RMK


The tent had two height settings, higher in a forest, lower away from it, and digging a trench would lower its profile further. In the photo below from a 1958 Subpolar trek I am not seeing much more height at the sides and what little difference there is on the slopes of 1079 can be explained by some snow drift, not a slab slip.
You say.

"The tent had two height settings, higher in a forest, lower away from it, and digging a trench would lower its profile further. In the photo below from a 1958 Subpolar trek I am not seeing much more height at the sides and what little difference there is on the slopes of 1079 can be explained by some snow drift, not a slab slip."

I don't think the tent had two settings for height regarding Forrest or slope. Rather just what was suitable. It's a choice .digging a hole for the tent has no relevance on high or low setting. It's about making a suitable foundation and minimalizing the effect of wind.
Around two years ago, I took part in some discussion of the tent's "two settings" in this old thread, which might inform the present discourse.
 

February 13, 2023, 03:58:24 PM
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Ziljoe


Thanks RMK. I'm not sure if the thread covers anything regarding the snow covering the area. I vaguely remember the thread. Having had a glance it say anything conclusive .

If that is the last 2 photos of them digging a trench it's either for a tent, cache or both? . The snow that came to be after was hard.
 

February 14, 2023, 11:49:56 AM
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amashilu

Global Moderator
I always try to put myself in their place, which is impossible, but worth the effort.

We are eating bread and meat in our cold tent when a "small slab slip" slides on top of us and begins to mash our tent. We all jump out, half dressed, and look at the situation. What do we do now? "I vote for walking quietly away for about a mile, half-dressed!"  That doesn't make sense. We would dig our jackets and boots out and see if we can, however lamely, rectify the situation and try to last until morning. It's cold and dark and this is the only place we stand a chance. We aren't amateurs and we know this. Start digging, boys and girls!
 

February 14, 2023, 12:53:03 PM
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eurocentric


I always try to put myself in their place, which is impossible, but worth the effort.

We are eating bread and meat in our cold tent when a "small slab slip" slides on top of us and begins to mash our tent. We all jump out, half dressed, and look at the situation. What do we do now? "I vote for walking quietly away for about a mile, half-dressed!"  That doesn't make sense. We would dig our jackets and boots out and see if we can, however lamely, rectify the situation and try to last until morning. It's cold and dark and this is the only place we stand a chance. We aren't amateurs and we know this. Start digging, boys and girls!


I tend to agree. They had dug up the same equivalent volume of the slab slip earlier and manhandled the chunks away, they are seen further down the slope in the rescue photo's. What was to stop them doing this again, exhausting work no doubt but a vital effort required for survival, and if with the benefit of being able to get inside the flap, working your way under the canvas when enough material was gone to push up and get the rest to slide off.

It only makes sense for them not to attempt this if serious injury occurred at the tent, enough of them were incapacitated, but are we to believe that two with flailed chests then staggered down that mountain? And unless his head injury came later, Tibo was dragged or carried?
My DPI approach - logic, probability and reason.
 

February 14, 2023, 01:09:39 PM
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eurocentric


You're mistaking the uniformity of the fresh snow on the pass with the two different areas there'd be near the tent, where men would take one step to the side and suddenly be standing on denser snow crust after they'd been standing on less dense fresh snow. Compressive density is a scientific measurement of this resistence in snow. It's a question of them noticing this underfoot in one immediate area.

In the photo's below the tent has been dismantled and dragged to the right, and the contents over to the left. There is no sign of any slab slip event in the middle or difference in compressive density underfoot across that entire surface.

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/3-018.jpg

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/3-019-1.jpg

The tent had two height settings, higher in a forest, lower away from it, and digging a trench would lower its profile further. In the photo below from a 1958 Subpolar trek I am not seeing much more height at the sides and what little difference there is on the slopes of 1079 can be explained by some snow drift, not a slab slip.

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/Dyatlov-pass-1958-Subpolar-Ural-22.jpg

I disagree, we are not talking about UK snow.  If fresh snow fell, or was blown  on top of Rustem and covered him with 600 mm of snow, then any hole would be covered the same with the same density.  Or at least the potential.

There is no sign of weight of the searchers sinking in the snow around Rustem. It looks like they dug the hole. Enough to stand at the edge with no collapse and no foot prints..the same around the tent.

The photos you post are post excavation.
Would there not be a hole or higher ridge towards the slope assuming that the last two photos suggest they dug down 1 meter?


You say.

"The tent had two height settings, higher in a forest, lower away from it, and digging a trench would lower its profile further. In the photo below from a 1958 Subpolar trek I am not seeing much more height at the sides and what little difference there is on the slopes of 1079 can be explained by some snow drift, not a slab slip."

I don't think the tent had two settings for height regarding Forrest or slope. Rather just what was suitable. It's a choice .digging a hole for the tent has no relevance on high or low setting. It's about making a suitable foundation and minimalizing the effect of wind.

I would argue, any snow slip/slide would be gone in 24 hours of wind or snow. There is a link that demonstrates that Futher along the slope that an avalanche disappeared in a couple of hours. This is from the suggestion that a snow slip did not move the foundation of the tent, perhaps more from the spoil of digging the trench as in the last two photos.

However, I remain comfortable with the fact Rustem was covered with firm snow. They used probs to try and find the other bodies on the slope, not walking about guessing how firm the crust was .


It has nothing to do with British mountains or British snow. The different densities of snow is universal, it's why it's possible to calculate how much material the hikers would have dug out when making their trench, selecting snow crust over much lighter freshly fallen snow.

You are comparing a site 3/4s of a mile away, with a uniform surface, with two different surfaces side-by-side at the tent where men should notice a difference underfoot, however subtle that may be. Regardless of the excavation of the tent trench I have been referring to where the men are shown standing, above the tent.

There's only one photo showing the feet of men digging up Rustem and they are wearing overshoes, the men at the tent are just in their boots and their heels do not even sink in. The higher you go the colder it gets and the older, wind scoured snow crust is much firmer.

We know that fresh snowfall fell further down the mountain, it's why the downhill footprints end 1/3rd of the way down, and fresh snow would be blown downhill, scoured off the higher ground, to rapidly help cover bodies and also create a big snowdrift at the ravine, where bodies ended up under metres of the stuff. I understand the point you have been making that this stuff appears to match the surface strength of that at the tent but I have not been suggested that the men downhill would be sinking up to their knees.

None of this explains why the tent was not damaged by a slab slip, the uphill side, which would take greatest pressure to the canvas from this event, yet had no tears or busted seams beyond a hole which was already there and had a coat stuffed inside. The tent remained vertical and none of its corner anchors broke away. It doesn't address how selective the snow was in perfectly filling a deep void while leaving footprints 6ft away uncovered.

The hikers retrieved torches including a dynamo type, a camera, and I have read somewhere that there was even a brown blanket found at the cedar. Arguably, if the rusting can of condensed milk found at the cedar is from 1959, they may even have taken that with them too, since condensed milk is listed on the tent contents, it didn't all end up in the cache.

The tent would have height settings in that it was frameless, so it was easy to adjust the height by lowering the sides, the corner anchors were secured to eyelets at the bottom of the roof, not the sides.

https://dyatlovpass.com/resources/340/gallery/Dyatlov-Pass-1957-Northern-Ural-26.jpg
My DPI approach - logic, probability and reason.
 

February 14, 2023, 03:14:11 PM
Reply #13
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Ziljoe




It has nothing to do with British mountains or British snow. The different densities of snow is universal, it's why it's possible to calculate how much material the hikers would have dug out when making their trench, selecting snow crust over much lighter freshly fallen snow.

My apologies Eurocentric. When I say British snow, I mean the variables that we might experience in the UK. The snow over Rustem and the tent  was hard or firn as the translation goes. Depending on the extremes of the tempature of the snow and humidity . We can only guess at how much material they dug out. The lighter snow would not remain for long on that slope. It is exposed and the wind blows away what is not firn. The searchers feet did not sink in to the snow around the tent either.
You are comparing a site 3/4s of a mile away, with a uniform surface, with two different surfaces side-by-side at the tent where men should notice a difference underfoot, however subtle that may be. Regardless of the excavation of the tent trench I have been referring to where the men are shown standing, above the tent.


I'm not sure what site you are referring too. If it's the tent, soft , light snow will be blown away , if there was raised hard snow from them digging the trench then this would mostl likely been erroded by wind blown snow. Snow moves like the desert sands.

There's only one photo showing the feet of men digging up Rustem and they are wearing overshoes, the men at the tent are just in their boots and their heels do not even sink in. The higher you go the colder it gets and the older, wind scoured snow crust is much firmer.

How much firmer? There is no sign of footprints by the searchers around Rustem. I was thinking you meant they could tell if there was a snow slap at the tent because their feet would penetrate the snow? My question is why would it show up soft snow when even the snow down by Rustem was firm enough to support the searchers weight?
We know that fresh snowfall fell further down the mountain, it's why the downhill footprints end 1/3rd of the way down, and fresh snow would be blown downhill, scoured off the higher ground, to rapidly help cover bodies and also create a big snowdrift at the ravine, where bodies ended up under metres of the stuff. I understand the point you have been making that this stuff appears to match the surface strength of that at the tent but I have not been suggested that the men downhill would be sinking up to their knees.

All snow would blow , the snow would probably have blown there given the wind the day before. So I don't know if you mean fresh snow from the sky straight down , or other snow blown from the slopes and other valleys.

I would suspect the snow in the ravine was already there. It had all season to gather there. It's collected snow in a ravine although it most likely drifted there. I think that they possibly made a snow cafe , or found one at the ravine and it collapsed. They reported that the snow was harder above the ravine 4 and requested 6 strong men to the digging. The difference of the density of that snow is worthy of note. Potentially adding merit to a snow collapse changing the density of the snow .
None of this explains why the tent was not damaged by a slab slip, the uphill side, which would take greatest pressure to the canvas from this event, yet had no tears or busted seams beyond a hole which was already there and had a coat stuffed inside. The tent remained vertical and none of its corner anchors broke away. It doesn't address how selective the snow was in perfectly filling a deep void while leaving footprints 6ft away uncovered.

1 pole remained vertical. It only takes a small snow collapse to give the impression of a avalanche. Perhaps small slides following. I'm not sure if there were foot prints 6 ft away though?
The hikers retrieved torches including a dynamo type, a camera, and I have read somewhere that there was even a brown blanket found at the cedar. Arguably, if the rusting can of condensed milk found at the cedar is from 1959, they may even have taken that with them too, since condensed milk is listed on the tent contents, it didn't all end up in the cache.
The torch may have been outside at the entrance? The other in a pocket. The camera case may have been around the neck, I think it remains unclear if the camera was in the case. I think the blanket was a mistaken report and and acknowledged. It may have been confusion with the way Yuri's shirt was supporting the snow if you look at the photos from the ceder.
The tent would have height settings in that it was frameless, so it was easy to adjust the height by lowering the sides, the corner anchors were secured to eyelets at the bottom of the roof, not the sides.


I don't disagree that the tent can be adjusted for height. I hope this post doesn't sound combative and we may be thinking the same but describing it differently. I'm having software issues and tried to write this twice.  lalala1

 

February 22, 2023, 05:02:39 AM
Reply #14
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WinterLeia


I would never completely discount the theory of an avalanche with the information we have , because obviously something very unusual happened that night. Otherwise, the mystery would have been solved very quickly. I am, however, very skeptical of it being pushed as the official explanation without acknowledging that there are problems with the theory. And there are problems with it, just as there are problems with other theories. Of course, something happened. But I suspect that this theory is attractive to the powers that be because it places the fault completely on the group itself. They set up the tent on the slope. They caused the conditions that led to the avalanche. It wasn’t even nature. The students engineered their own destruction.

They could have. It’s quite possible, even with all the experience they had. The one thing that can never be factored out of any equation is human error. But I don’t think I’m being too conspiratorial to point out that there is a self-serving quality to the authorities embracing the theory so whole-heartedly, which may be the reason they do so rather than it being as set in stone as they want people to believe. It places the blame on dead people, who can’t defend themselves, and no one else can really do so without a shadow of doubt cast on whatever argument they may bring up, (I.e: footprint evidence).

In that vein, here are a few things to keep in mind regarding the avalanche theory. The injuries that the hikers sustained are part of the evidence of a slab avalanche at the tent, and are in fact, one of the strongest pieces of evidence for such an event. Once you start arguing that such injuries could have happened elsewhere, like at the ravine, you’ve weakened the theory logarithmically. The injuries the hikers suffered were not typical of avalanche victims. That’s why it didn’t hold up in 1959. However, the slab avalanche allows for a scenario in which the students would have been caught between the floor of the tent, which had been hardened by being leveled and having backpacks or something placed down in a way to fortify it, and a small, but heavy shelf of snow hanging over the tent that would just come down in a single, catastrophic event, a slab rolling off a weaker layer beneath.

Such conditions would not exist, if say, they had dug out the snow den at the ravine and it had collapsed on them. They could never have gotten the ground so packed and the snow would not have caved in on them in the same way. So we end up again with avalanche victims exhibiting injuries very unusual for avalanche victims and no explanation for why, whereas the slab avalanche provides that explanation. And the medical examiner had said that Luda and Semyon’s injuries would have happened in the same cataclysmic event and were unlikely to be the result of a fall. It had to be something that caused greater internal pressure than external pressure, like being crushed between a slab and a hard floor. Plus, even if they had both fallen in the ravine at the exact same time, it’s very unlikely they would have hit the bottom in the exact same way.

Here’s the problem. Slab avalanche happens. Semyon and Luda, at least, would have been injured. Nikolai’s injuries, however, could have been caused by a fall, as long as it wasn’t a mere stumble. So let’s say he fell at the ravine. They carry Luda and Semyon down the hill, make a fire, and then go dig out a snow den. How long would that take? Twenty minutes. Does twenty minutes sound reasonable? Any less than twenty minutes. That’s a lot of work for twenty minutes.

Why am I making a big deal of this? Because that’s all the time the medical examiner gave for Luda to survive from the time she sustained her injuries. So, if it took longer than twenty minutes to dig their injured companions out of the tent, carry them down the hill, make a fire, go dig a snow den with their bare hands presumably, and prepare the floor with tree clippings and discarded clothing, it means they carried a dead body to the den and placed her in it instead of laying Luda out next to Yuri and Krivo. And that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Now, maybe they weren’t sure she was dead (rather unbelievable, but not impossible, I guess). Or maybe she was injured. But then something else happened at the ravine that further injured her, and that’s what drastically reduced her life expectancy. Possible, yes. It’s also speculation that can’t be proved and nothing in the study or the slab avalanche theory bolsters it in any way that speculation in other theories are not bolstered. That’s why I believe the theory is being made to look for better than what it actually is.

Secondly, the possibility of one avalanche occurring is astronomically high. So when people suggest that another could have been triggered by the first, they need to get a better understanding of the situation, because they’re thinking like the students were in the alps. The authorities are suggesting a single, localized event that’s centered at the tent because that is the only type of avalanche that could have happened at that location and the snow would have only rolled maybe a few feet down the hill from the tent. It would not have triggered another avalanche, and once you get in the trees, they anchor the snow in place, making it even more improbable that an avalanche would occur. It’s more likely than meeting BigFoot, in my opinion. But that’s about all I can say for the theory.

And, honestly, if all that happened is one small, localized avalanche, I don’t know why they would have taken so long to return to their tent. How long would you wait around on a frigid night in barely any clothes if, say, ten minutes had passed and nothing else occurred? Yet, the evidence seems to suggest that Igor, Rustem, and Zina didn’t try to return to the tent until their situation had got really desperate.