Theories Discussion > Katabatic wind

The wind plays its own music

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ARCDOC:
Best forum readers!

I thought that it would be a good idea to post something here, after writing the article about the theory involving a katabatic wind. Me, Andreas, Ekaterina and Artem, made an expedition to the pass in Jan/Feb, which is shortly described together with the new theory. You can find it under “The Swedish-Russian Dyatlov Expedition 2019” on this site’s Home page – or in my constantly updated blog. A link to the latter is found along the article mentioned above. Before commenting, I would suggest that you read the theory in full.

I have tried to build the case out of my own experiences from mountainous areas and by experiencing the Dyatlov pass/Auspiya valley during the same time of the year as the Dyatlov group. I have also compared the Dyatlov event to the Swedish accident of Anaris in 1978. The latter which in many ways mimics the circumstances in the Dyatlov pass - affected by a gravity wind (katabatic wind).

I have experienced many positive feedbacks on the theory, but also much criticism. The latter is very welcomed in order to improve the knowledge of the event. So please, when objecting, try also to explain why you object to details or any larger unfolding event during the evening/night of February 1st in 1959 - involving a possible katabatic wind. This, so that we can build a solid case. To my surprise most of the people objecting to the theory are less favourable of the idea of leaving the tent without giving a thought of staying – this in case of a falling/gravity wind. It is important to solve the “leaving the tent” situation, because it is this specific act that more or less leads to the subsequent events. So let me first make one thing clear. I am not talking about any wind or any storm. The density and gravitational force of a katabatic wind is brutal. A storm would mostly give you the option to dress and to stay/leave the tent under rather controlled forms. Furthermore, never forget the coexisting low temperature, both during the night and the cooling effect of a gravity wind rolling down the gradient. So again, we are not talking about severe winds or a storm of wind speeds up to around 25 m/s, but about possible wind speeds above that. Even though we should be open for wind speeds during a katabatic event of around 20-25 m/s. Remember that the katabatic wind recorded during the Anaris event was “only” around 20 m/s. The cooling effect was then around minus 50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many would argue that the Dyatlov group could have stayed in the tent. But I would argue that crawling back under the snow covered tent, if possible at all due to the conditions involving a gravity wind, wouldn’t have helped them - which they wisely and obviously realized. Yes, the tent would have been better secured with the group inside, but the cooling effect under a gravity wind would eventually have killed them. Furthermore the torn tent was already made unsuitable for this option. In fact - it was exactly this that killed the Anaris group, where the only person escaping the shelter was the only survivor. He was in constant movement and ventured elsewhere, while the rest froze to death.

So, let us start there – and let the ideas, concerns or additional viewpoints flow.

Sincerely,
Richard Holmgren

sarapuk:

--- Quote from: ARCDOC on February 23, 2019, 11:35:31 AM ---Best forum readers!

I thought that it would be a good idea to post something here, after writing the article about the theory involving a katabatic wind. Me, Andreas, Ekaterina and Artem, made an expedition to the pass in Jan/Feb, which is shortly described together with the new theory. You can find it under “The Swedish-Russian Dyatlov Expedition 2019” on this site’s Home page – or in my constantly updated blog. A link to the latter is found along the article mentioned above. Before commenting, I would suggest that you read the theory in full.

I have tried to build the case out of my own experiences from mountainous areas and by experiencing the Dyatlov pass/Auspiya valley during the same time of the year as the Dyatlov group. I have also compared the Dyatlov event to the Swedish accident of Anaris in 1978. The latter which in many ways mimics the circumstances in the Dyatlov pass - affected by a gravity wind (katabatic wind).

I have experienced many positive feedbacks on the theory, but also much criticism. The latter is very welcomed in order to improve the knowledge of the event. So please, when objecting, try also to explain why you object to details or any larger unfolding event during the evening/night of February 1st in 1959 - involving a possible katabatic wind. This, so that we can build a solid case. To my surprise most of the people objecting to the theory are less favourable of the idea of leaving the tent without giving a thought of staying – this in case of a falling/gravity wind. It is important to solve the “leaving the tent” situation, because it is this specific act that more or less leads to the subsequent events. So let me first make one thing clear. I am not talking about any wind or any storm. The density and gravitational force of a katabatic wind is brutal. A storm would mostly give you the option to dress and to stay/leave the tent under rather controlled forms. Furthermore, never forget the coexisting low temperature, both during the night and the cooling effect of a gravity wind rolling down the gradient. So again, we are not talking about severe winds or a storm of wind speeds up to around 25 m/s, but about possible wind speeds above that. Even though we should be open for wind speeds during a katabatic event of around 20-25 m/s. Remember that the katabatic wind recorded during the Anaris event was “only” around 20 m/s. The cooling effect was then around minus 50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many would argue that the Dyatlov group could have stayed in the tent. But I would argue that crawling back under the snow covered tent, if possible at all due to the conditions involving a gravity wind, wouldn’t have helped them - which they wisely and obviously realized. Yes, the tent would have been better secured with the group inside, but the cooling effect under a gravity wind would eventually have killed them. Furthermore the torn tent was already made unsuitable for this option. In fact - it was exactly this that killed the Anaris group, where the only person escaping the shelter was the only survivor. He was in constant movement and ventured elsewhere, while the rest froze to death.

So, let us start there – and let the ideas, concerns or additional viewpoints flow.

Sincerely,
Richard Holmgren

--- End quote ---

Its a good post. Welcome to this great Forum. However, Iam very doubtful about any kind of wind playing a part in the demise of the Dyatlov Group. Not only do I believe that no wind however strong could have driven them to abandon their refuge, but also I dont believe any kind of wind played a part in some of the very serious and highly unusual injuries to some of the Group. I have posted replies else where on the Forum re my stance re winds. But here goes again. The Wind be it Katabatic or otherwise would need to have been so strong to drive the occupants from the Tent that it is almost certain that the Tent would have suffered very heavy damage. But it was not actually damaged as such. The tent had cuts or tears in it and these could not have been caused by a Katabatic wind.
It is claimed the cuts or tears were man made. Also the Tent was not moved from its pitched location, and such a Katabatic wind would almost certainly have shifted the Tent. And I have been in a Tent when very strong winds have blown trees down in the vicinity. Had the winds have hit my Tent it too would have suffered severe damage. I believed the safest place to be when those winds were blowing, was in the Tent. Imagine being on a mountainside in severe low temperatures in a remote part of the World. Would you abandon your Tent. If the Katabatic wind is that strong to remove you from your Tent then it will also remove your Tent. And all things point to the Dyatlov group walking a mile, poorly dressed etc. Would you do that in such a wind  !  ?  Thats why I can not subscribe to the Katabatic wind theory.

ARCDOC:
Thanks for welcoming me and for your thoughts!!

Just to clarify parts of the theory that you commented upon - according to me; 1) the tent wasn't ripped by the wind, and 2) the snow was put atop to keep it down behind the snow shelf.
And then the answer to your question; 3) yes, I would have acted like the group in the case of a gravity wind.

Many Thanks!

Star man:
Have also posted this on the other thread.

I have just read the whole theory.  It's very interesting.  I like that it provides an explanation for the flashlight being found on 10cm of snow on top of the tent.  This has been a detail I have been thinking about.  There are other possible explanations for this, but I think Richard's is a good one.

The theory kind of reminds me of the movie "The Day After Tomorrow", where cold air is drawn down from the upper Troposphere and freezes everything instantly.  Obviously the movie is just fiction, but I suppose a significant downdraft of cold wind is credible on Kholat Syakhl.

Let's consider the tent.  It was two tents sewn together and had many makeshift repairs, which means it probably wasn't fit for high winds.  Also, if the temperature suddenly dropped to below -50C could this affect the material of the tent?  I am not an expert of fabrics but most materials become embrittled at very low temperatures.  I would not be surprised if the fabric became stiff and therefore the repairs more likely to fail.

If the tent suddently failed due to high winds and low temperatures it would have put the team in a very dangerous position.  I think what Richard is saying is that they didn't leave the safety of they tent.  Instead, the tent was nor longer a safe place so they had to leave to find somewhere safer.  It's a credible scenario.

However, there are things that need to be considered in detail:

If the group had time to walk a mile down the slope, they should have had time to retrieve their footwear from the tent and some better outdoor gear?  Slobodin at least had time to put one of his boots on, so why not the other.  If the events happened suddenly, then their hands would not have been too frozen to put on their boots and collect essential equipment.

Why did Semyon have his camera around his neck?  Was it just a coincidence or was he taking photos just before the events began.  Semyon and Thibo were probably on duty being betters dressed, or maybe they had gone outside to relieve themselves.

The autopsy reports are odd.  There are peculiarities around the cause of death of the group.  Dorishenko's Edema, urine levels inconsistent with freezing to death.  Coats unzipped, gloves in pockets.  The two Yuris had a fire going that burned for an estimated 1.5 hours.  Why did they die?  No toxicology report in case files? Why?  Has just got lost over time?

The chest injuries - consistent with a sudden and fast impact, such as falling 5m to 7m.  Equivalent to about 2 to 2.7 tonnes of force.  Could a collapsing snow den cause these injuries?  Luda had a smashed nose, and a large bruise on femur.  Semyon had a large cut on the right side of his head, exposing the skull, ( the same side as his crushed ribs).  Injuries still seem more likely to be from a fall than collapsed snow den to me.

Why set up two separate areas: 1. The cedar and fire. 2. The ravine and snow den.  Why not build a fire near the snow den?  In my mind one possible reason for doing this is that some of the team had already sustained significant injuries.  Maybe they fell from the tree or fell in the ravine and therefore a shelter had to be built for their survival.

I like the explanation for the injuries of Dorishenko.  The armpit scratches etc.  I too also think that the two Yuris got these either trying to climb up or down the cedar with frozen extremities.  It seems the most likely place to get the minor scratches and abrasions.

All in all I think it's an interesting theory, particularly as a reason for leaving the tent and the camp and it warrants further consideration.

I take my hat off to you for retracing their steps to gain a further insight into the incident.

Regards

Star man


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hanno:
I see two weaknesses for the katabatic wind theory:

1) If there was such a strong wind, wouldn't be the tent be much more damaged? Based on the reports and pictures the tent is more or less intact except from the cuts. Even the skis are still standing upwards.

2) Although Richard would have left the tent in a similar situation, I am sure most people wouldn't have reacted so. Also in the Anaris accident the people stayed inside the tent and this was years later than the Dyatlov accident. In my opinion it is definitely not the "normal" behavior that when there is a strong wind you leave the tent and search for shelter in a near wood.

But we all know that the Dyatlov case is far away from being normal, so probably there is no normal solution.

I could imagine the following sequence of events:

Some of the Dyatlov group are just inside the tent, light dresses and preparing for dinner or sleeping. Some are better dressed and still outside (because they are still fixing something, because they want to relieve themselves ...). Those that are outside see a katabatic wind. They don't know what it is, but it looks quite impressive. You can google for videos and you will see that indeed can look very spectacular.
Because of this, Semyon grabs his camera because he wants to make a picture.

Then from one second to the other the katabatic wind hits them with immense coldness.

Option A:
It becomes so cold that they can only put on some of their clothes. Hastily they leave the tent are in the hope to make a fire in the woods and stay there until the wind gets weaker.

Option B:
They all leave the tent because they want to better attach it to the ground. They recognize it is not possible, an so they put snow on the tent so that it can't be swept away from the wind. Then they also leave the area. Maybe those who were light dressed just left the are while those
better dressed put snow on the tent and then followed.

Is this a plausible story? I would say yes, it could have happened so (or similar).

Is it the theory that matches best to all the given facts? I would say no, the military involvement theory matches better. But this is my personal opinion.

Is there a way to prove the theory right/wrong? As with all theories: No.

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