The Swedish-Russian Dyatlov Expedition 2019

Djatlovpasset Dyatlov pass

The 2019 tour

Skiing in the footsteps of the Dyatlov group established the basis of our new theory
- watch a preview of our upcoming documentary

During the summer in 2018, me and my friend and expedition partner Andreas Liljegren, started to plan for our Dyatlov Pass Expedition 2019. Andreas had his own personal questions and expectations from such an undertaking. Myself, working as an archaeologist, I naturally came to approach the case through matters that were familiar to me. Even though the Dyatlov accident could be considered somewhat recent for an archaeological undertaking - not the least in the absence of field artefacts - it in many ways shared the same prerequisites. The historical event could perhaps be understood through indirect artefacts and other circumstantial evidence. Of course the local and indigenous people - the Mansi - which lifestyle and history fascinates me, have to be put aside for the moment in order to avoid detours from the main subject. This, even if the Mansi presence intersected with the Dyatlov group and still plays an inseparable part of the region. 
 

1) The characteristic tilting trees along the Lozva river drew attention already in early depictions from the 19th century. In the far right, a hand colored print of the local mansi people of the region. Photo: Richard Holmgren

Our approach to the Northern Urals and the Dyatlov pass had two main purposes. Firstly, we wanted to come as close as possible to the historical event by experiencing night camps during the same days of the year as the group in question – this in a tent with a stove, including at least one night on the slope of Kholat Syakhl. Before getting to the position on the mountain we also wanted, likewise to the group in 1959, try to ski through the Auspiya valley in pristine snow and to set up camps in the estimated positions of 1959. In experiencing the same preconditions, we hoped to get a sober idea of what the group went through before their last night. With unthought of details, we could then apply those to our personal theories. Secondly, the reason we went to the region during a week in early 2019 - the transition between January and February, was a kind of homage to the events of 1959 and the 60-years anniversary of the groups passing. 
 

2) The place of an ex-labour camp “2nd Northern”, during the Dyatlov tour, compared to a photo from today. It was here that the group departed from their tenth group member, Yuri Yudin. The photo depicts Z. Kolmogorova taking farewell of Yuri, with Sasha looking over his shoulder. Photos: Dyatlov Foundation / Richard Holmgren

Through the Auspiya valley, southeast of the pass, we were in total four persons – me, Andreas Liljegren and our experienced Russian colleagues, Ekaterina Zimina and Artem Domogirov from Yekaterinburg. They were likewise eager to experience parts of the Auspiya route and camping at the specific places of the Dyatlov group, such as the slope of Kholat Syakhl. They met our anticipations greatly and provided us with tent, stove and other larger camping equipment – but most of all they found our hearts through their great strength and extremely joyful humor and spirit. The hardest to deal with during the trip was undoubtedly skiing through pristine snow with backpacks. Unlike the group in 1959 we had half of our equipment filled into individual sledges. We believed that this would ease the weight from the skis and thus prevent us from sinking too deep into the snow - which fortunately also became the case. We know that the Dyatlov group occasionally used the trails of the Mansi hunters, but also that they shifted their front-skier, who without backpack made tracks and later moved to a last-in-line position. In any case we had a hard time keeping up with the Dyatlov pace. For us it was an impossible task and considering that we only skied during one fourth of their total planned time-route, yet a remaining mystery surrounding the Dyatlov group must undoubtedly be their exceptional stamina.
 

3) The expeditions team member, Artem Domogirov, pushing through pristine snow in the Auspiya valley. Photo: Richard Holmgren

The second heaviest task regarded the low temperatures in general. As Swedes we are not completely unexperienced with cold weather, but the brutal temperatures around the pass could be really challenging. With temperatures below 50 degrees Celsius at the day of arrival to Vizhay and additionally on the day after having left the area, we were fortunate. We “only” had to endure minus 43 degrees Celcius during the night in the pass – this on the site where the Dyatlov group pitched their tent their last night. In the Auspiya valley the temperature fluctuated between minus 20 and 35 degrees Celsius, with an average temperature of around minus 25 during the days and slightly below minus 30 during the nights. As Andreas and I are heavy drinkers (water), it was hard to get sufficient with liquid. Water in bottles freezes quite fast, despite continuous movement and a cup of tea didn’t always satisfy our needs in the same way. Along the Auspiya river it was easy to puncture the ice near the shoreline. In fact, sometimes the ice was so thin due to the underlying movement of the water, that it was a danger to use the open river for skiing. This was also noticed by the group in 1959.
 

4) The author, Richard Holmgren, wondering how he ended up here. Photo: Andreas Liljegren

Other than the issue of drinking water, the cold temperatures affected the food and the snacks in the backpacks. Without cooking, almost nothing could be eaten during the trip - such as the brought about dried fruits, which were frozen into lumps of ice. Certain zippers also malfunctioned and the soft but strong G-1000 cloth in our jackets and trousers (the classic Swedish brand of Fjällräven) simply turned into crispbread. The sleeping bags that could endure temperatures to minus 35, delivered satisfactory. The only problem in this case involved the practice of packing down the daily clothing into the sleeping bags during the nights in order to have warm clothes in the morning. This prevented warm air to circulate inside and created far too cold sleeping bags. Thus, this lead to an uneasy feeling when crawling out of the sleeping bag, having to put certain cold clothes on before the morning routines. The stove provided good warmth during the nights – but mainly to a level of not making equipment and food to freeze. In a photograph from 1959, Slobodin can be seen posing with a burnt jacket. Obviously it was left to close to their stove. When we were drying any wet clothes in the tent, we tried to do so during the evening hours while still awake. I would say that this was the most important purpose of the stove. A pile of freshly cut firewood was furthermore stacked around our stove in order to both dry the wood and to prevent things like sleeping bags to accidently make contact with the heater during the night.    
 

5) The Dyatlov group’s tent with its specially constructed stove – crafted by Igor Dyatlov himself. To the right our own tent with its stove in action, here seen halfway into the Auspiya valley, somewhere afore the groups Jan 30 camp in 1959. Photos: Dyatlov Foundation / Richard Holmgren

Many people have asked us, predominantly in popular media, how the night on the pass underwent and if “we were scared”. Well, the one who reads the concluding theory below, of what I really think killed the group, he or she will understand that we really had a big reason to be frightened. However, difficult skiing through the day, pitching of the tent, cooking, sawing and chopping wood, made each evening into a sleeping pill itself. Before the trip we actually asked ourselves how it would be possible to spend 14 hour inside a tent – we can assure the reader that we never touched any of the game boards brought along. Only some vodka.
 

6) A view from the Dyatlov pass looking down over the frozen western part of the Auspiya valley. Photo: Richard Holmgren

Foreword and remarks on the new theory...

The new theory to the causes of the accident at the Dyatlov pass in 1959, put forward below, assumes that the reader is already acquainted with the story at large, the events in the pass, its various theories, group composition and other details. For the Swedish reading audience, a summary of the Dyatlov pass incident and the planning of our trip can be found here. If not - an excellent source of information is the comprehensive website containing almost everything surrounding the Dyatlov pass, found at dyatlovpass.com. There are also some well researched books out there - with authors like Donnie Eichar, Svetlana Oss and Keith McCloskey, presenting various theories, the personalities of the group and the pass itself - this sometimes with great commitment and sensitivity to the persons involved. Saying this, I must add that I never understood TV documentaries, podcasts and other articles putting emphasize in cryptozoology and flying saucers as alternative explanations to the group's death. Think again – if an extraterrestrial civilization appeared in the pass or if a surviving ape from the past is roaming the taiga, then the mystery of the Dyatlov accident fades in comparison. This is furthermore not the kind of respect the Dyatlov group deserves - or their surviving relatives for that matter. Thus, I believe that a rational approach is the best way to pay respect to the members of the group – all of them personalities that likely wanted nothing else than letting us know how they might have spent their last hours in life. This with dignity.
 

My outline to the theory of the Dyatlov pass incident is rather pragmatic and will probably disappoint those seeking a cryptic mystery. By comparing the events with a case from my home country Sweden, I think that a new approach with interesting details of comparison could be very illuminating. In this context I want to apologize to the persons having presented a similar theory up to date – a presentation that I might have missed, not the least among all excellent Russian productions that are hidden to me behind picturesque Cyrillic letters. 

7) Ekaterina Zimina visiting the graves of the Dyatlov group at the Mikhailovskoe cemetery in Yekaterinburg. To the far right the grave of Z. Kolmogorova decorated with flowers. Photo: Richard Holmgren

New theory on the Dyatlov pass incident - an outline

The theory is based on the experiences from our Dyatlov expedition during Jan/Feb 2019 and the accident that occured at the Anaris mountains in Sweden 1978.
 

Almost twenty years after the accident in the Dyatlov pass, an interesting parallel occurred in north-central Sweden. More than any other theory on the Dyatlov pass incident, that I have taken part of, I believe the Swedish disaster can hold an answer to the now 60 year old mystery. In Sweden the tragedy which killed eight people, is often referred to as the “Anarisolyckan”, which in Swedish can be translated to “the accident at Anaris”. The latter place is the name of a rolling terrain that bear much resemblance to the passes south of Otorten in the Urals.

8) The snow covered mountains of Anaris in Sweden. Photo: Unknown
8) The snow covered mountains of Anaris in Sweden. Photo: Unknown

So, what was it then that happened at Anaris that unfortunate day of February the 24th in 1978? Actually and as an ironical coincidence, the Anaris accident likewise involved nine persons, two young women and seven men of which one of the latter barely survived. Initially, during the daytime, the Anaris skiing trip included only six persons. They had brought with them food for a day’s tour, but also rescue packs in the form of wind sacks, radio equipment and shovels. The first stage of their skiing tour involved an undertaking uphill of about three kilometers - this over a ridge which made them sweaty and tired. It very much resembled the Dyatlov-group’s approach from the Auspiya valley and up to the ridge next west of the now named Dyatlov pass. The Swedish group were probably not nearly as fit as the Russian team of nine, but we currently don’t know if some in the Dyatlov group got sweaty. Considering that this was the Dyatlov group's first larger uphill challenge during their tour, carrying heavy backpacks alongside a possible time pressure to reach beyond the pass, the question might be pertinent - considering details such as their light dressing in the tent during the last evening. As well acknowledged, the combination of extremely cold environments and sweaty clothes, can be devastating in keeping the body warm and fit.
 

9) Andreas Liljegren taking a well deserved break from tough skiing through the forest in the Auspiya valley. Photo: Richard Holmgren

When the Anaris-group started the trip, they encountered an outside temperature of around minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) with a wind speed of around 6 m/s. This particular day the wind accelerated and the physical situation of the group gradually affected their condition. The weather then unexpectedly changed to the worse and an enjoyable skiing tour rapidly turned into an tormented state of survival. Soon the temperature dropped even further, but the situation really turned devastating due to the sudden acceleration of the wind - this with wind speeds up to at least 20 m/s. The cooling effect was then around minus 50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit). The group hastily tried to seek protection – which they did in an immediate dug out ditch along the trail. The shelter that was only 0,8 meters in depth (c. 2.5 feet), had its top cover repeatedly blown off.

Yet another three persons, also surprised by the sudden storm, tried to join the shelter. In all there were now nine persons with four wind sacks and sleeping bags, fighting for survival. However, the sacks and bags were never used since they failed to open any of their backpacks alongside an overall chaotic situation. The last joining persons that requested shelter together with the other six, repeatedly tried to fix the constantly failing uppermost part of the bivouac, this from the outside - but had to give up. Unable to fit inside the crowded and by snow blocked entrance, they eventually wandered out apathetic in the storm. Only one of them survived since he was in constant movement and was fortunate to be saved by two persons later on - although losing all his extremities. Inevitably and as we shall see, I believe that this last portion of the event can give us an idea of what Slobodin, Kolmogorova and Dyatlov went through after being unable to save their friends. This with one big exception though - the Dyatlov pass was far from any helping hands. Let us return to this later. 
 

10) The chilling temperatures on the 1st of February 2019, between the Dyatlov pass and Kholat Syakhl. Photo: Richard Holmgren

Learning from the event in Anaris, the decision to seek shelter was made way to late and their hastily constructed bivouac was much too shallow. If only they had dug 15 meters further away they would have found a sufficient snow depth of about five meters. For the Dyatlov group the snow depth of their made bivouac(s) was well chosen considering the forceful conditions, but as we shall see, with another devastating effect. The Anaris group’s warming equipment stayed in their backpacks which were not reachable due to their numb hands. Their clothing was sufficient, but the sudden compelling force at Anaris was far greater. The rescuers arriving to the scene, described the place as the worst they had ever encountered. The snow was all covered with blood from open wounds as a result of digging in the snow with frozen hands.

Then - what kind of sudden "blizzard" killed the Anaris group? 

 

11) One of the last photos taken by the Dyatlov group - approaching their final campsite on Kholat Syakhl. Strong wind is already present. Photo: Dyatlov foundation.

The understanding of the sudden strong winds that surprised and killed the people at Anaris, can be defined as a katabatic wind (from the Greek's katabatikos, meaning "descending"). It is a wind that by gravity carries air of higher density down a slope. This specific wind is also known as a fall wind, a downslope wind or a gravity wind. The katabatic wind can occur over glacier or mountain areas as the air is cooled and thus increases in density. When the air is set in motion and begins to run down along a gradient, very strong wind speeds can occur. A Swedish wind record is for example 81 m/s which was documented on December 20, 1992 at the Tarfala research station. According to estimates in 1959, the temperature that the Dyatlov group experienced in the late afternoon and in the evening on the first of February, was between minus 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. A sudden change from strong winds into a fall wind on the slope of Kholat Syakhl, could reasonably have reached wind speeds of about 25 m/s. The cooling effect would then have been around minus 65 degrees Celsius, or minus 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In a brief period of time such temperatures can be deadly, let alone the wind that in itself would make it hard to stand upright. 
 

12) Looking down from the ridge near the Dyatlov pass over the slopes leading to the western area of the Auspiya valley. It was there that the Dyatlov group started to experience a steady airstream - compared to a jet engine. It is likely somewhere in this upper area tha the photo above was taken. Photo: Richard Holmgren

Let us now apply the scenario of a katabatic wind affecting the Dyatlov hikers in 1959. From their group diary we know that around noon, on the day before their last campsite on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl, the wind escalated. We also know that the wind was compared to a “blow fryer” – according the group it was associated with the steady airstream of a jet engine. A remark in the diary also clarifies that snow was whirling in the air but not coming from any clouds since the sky was blue. Obviously and as presumed by the group, the snow came from the trees in the valley below, blowing its way up along the peaks. In line with the local topography and one of the last entries in the group diary, the wind was blowing from the west and as such pushed its way up the “back” of Kholat Syakhl. This had a potential to turn dangerous since the air interacting with the highlands was cooled – thus becoming denser than the air at the same elevation but away from the slope. A large-scale gravity wind, descending too fast to warm up, could then have exhibited itself as an extremely strong wind flowing downhill and replacing the gap of the warmer air masses. In the middle of this scenario stood a very vulnerable tent.

In other words, the conditions described in the group’s last entries had the prerequisites for the buildup of a katabatic wind with devastating effects. Little did they know - and little are we still today prepared for any analogous and local occurrences. These small changes in air pressure are barely noticeable on the meteorologists' weather maps and could still easily lead to the devastating effects that we have seen in the Anaris accident - for that matter, even during our own night on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl. We packed down our tent the 2nd of February 2019 during the 60 years anniversary of the Dyatlov event, but later learned from EMERCOM (Ministry of Emergency Situations in Russia) that during the upcoming night the temperature fell from our minus 43 degrees Celsius down to near minus 50. This low temperature was furthermore complemented by an immense storm - although not being a katabatic wind, it still would have had a force enough to put us in an extremely hazardous situation.
 

13) The last view of the Dyatlov group alive. The winds on Kholat Syakhl are still strong, but seemingly under control. Photo: Dyatlov Foundation.

We know for a fact, from the series of last photos taken by the Dyatlov group, that their weather conditions worsened. On the photograph showing them mounting the tent for the last time, winds are obviously battering the slopes of Kholat Syakhl, creating snow covered clothing and poor visibility. Considering the seemingly dim light (?), we can assume that they were somewhat late in pitching their tent – perhaps due to a rather exhausting climb, but still felt in control regardless of the weather. After all – winds on the slope of Kholat Syakhl are more or less ever present during this time of the year. Igor Dyatlov would have been well acquainted with this, since he spent time in the area the previous year. What they didn’t anticipate during the evening of February 1st, was that a moderate wind with stronger gusts could rather swiftly turn into 25 m/s – or even much above that. 

Thus, my theory to the group´s death is based on the sudden event of a katabatic wind. Presumably the wind was already significant but rather stable during the late afternoon and early evening. This gave the group time to settle, remove any wet clothes and eat leftovers - since the stove was stowed away, probably due to lack of enough firewood which was not present on the slopes. Their shoes were nicely stacked against the western side of the tent with their sleeping positions close to each other to keep warm. There wouldn’t have been an option to sleep in larger gaps due the size of the tent. The tent was a converted single tent that was stitched together with a second length of canvas. We can for example learn from their journals that the construction needed overall and constant small repairs. Even though the tent never seemed to have been ripped apart in its seams, it’s construction must have been a constant reminder of its vulnerability in the event of a storm. Since the tent was fixed with ropes attaced to ski poles and a pair of standing skis, rather than being anchored into the ground or heavy stones, we can assume that the wind at the time of pitching wasn’t too strong. However, such solution required even faster actions if the wind somehow accelerated and became threatening to the tent. 

One thing that I want to mention in this circumstance, regards the angle of the pitched Dyatlov tent. This is not forwarded as any criticism to the professional hikers, but something that might have helped them temporarily under any possible turbulent event involving strong winds. Obviously they raised their tent laterally on the slope. Aware of the dangers of conceivable strong winds, we instead pitched the tent with the least largest area facing the gradient (photo no. 15). This is not a wise choice for creating a suitable sleeping surface, but vital to succumb impending winds from above.    
 

14) Fighting an outside temperature of -43 degrees Celcius from Inside our tent on the slope of Kholat Sayakhl. The photo was taken during the late evening, February the 1st - perhaps at the time when heavy falling winds started to roll down the slopes exactly 60 years ago. Photo: Richard Holmgren

What happens next on the slope could perhaps be described as a rumbling noise of a wind rapidly escalating from above. In the next minute or even seconds, the wind got so strong that any tent would have blown away or into pieces. Now, any person that haven’t experienced falling winds, would probably argue that no wind in the world can blow up this fast and with such a great force, that there would at least be time to put on clothes or shoes. They´re wrong. Any such wind as described above, would completely take anyone off guard - such in the case of Anaris with its following consequences. I have personally experienced weaker but similar circumstances below the glacier of Mt Ararat some years ago. The canvas of my anorak almost teared apart because of the ripping effect caused by the wind. The large canvas of the Dyatlov tent would have started to flutter in an exceptionally violent self-destructing way, much so - that the only way to save it would be to cut it open from the inside in order to rush outside for measures of saving it. This, unless it accidently teared itself apart by any item pushed against the canvas to keep it stretched. In any case, there wouldn't have been any time to dress in the dark or to unbutton the tent before exiting. The only way to save the situation would be to throw oneself out and quickly cover the canvas along with its content (such as boots) with the surrounding snow masses - this in order to prevent the tent with its content to sail away and to disperse in the dark. This would explain the snow that was covering the central part of the tent when found. Again, from the photos available there is simply no traces of an avalanche in the surrounding snow pattern. The gradient of Kholat Syakhl is furthermore far to gentle and the distance to the top much too short to create momentum. I had the perfect occasion to study this long gnawing question of mine during our stay on the slope.  

In the case of the Dyatlov group and as indicated, a flashlight was left to shine on top of the snow pile – likely in order for the group to reposess the tent as soon as the sudden and chaotic situation got under control. The best they could hope for was that the Chinese flashlight would stay in place despite the strong wind, this due to its relatively heavy and small size. One of the photos far below (no. 17), showing the abandoned tent from the west, clearly demonstrates patterns of heavily wind swept snow - where vortexes of wind have hollowed out scoop-shaped cavities. Snow affected by strong wind is also evident in the photos of the three bodies that were buried in the lower part of the slope. Densely packed snow was here surrounding them in tight layers. If examined correctly, this would also indicate that the last three persons alive, Kolmogorova, Slobodin and Dyatlov died when the wind was still battering from above - this, after experiencing the demise of their six friends. A gravity wind is fiercer along the slope. In connection to describing the birch sapling that Igor Dyatlov was leaning on when found, a testimony made by the rescue group, Atmanaki and Masslenikov, mentioned signs of strong wind. 
There are however conflicting reports between Maslennikov, Tempalov and Slobstov on whether the flashlight was found in an on or off position. If it was indeed found in an off-position, it was certainly not used as a beacon - or perchance it was simply turned off by mistake when fiddling with the switch when found. There are also reports that the flashlight was still in a working condition when lit. This could either mean that it was in fact already turned off before found - or simply revived when the switch was tampered with. Sometimes batteries can produce extra juice after lying unused – especially on a sunlit slope. The question is difficult to answer with the various reports at hand.   

15) The Dyatlov group's tent was found the 26th of February partly covered by snow. To the right Andreas Liljegren is seen standing outside our tent, near the position of the 1959 campsite. Photos: Dyatlov Foundation / Richard Holmgren

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 survivor escaping the shelter, was the only survivor. He was in constant movement and ventured elsewhere, while the rest froze to death.

I would argue that the Dyatlov group acted in the best possible way under the prevailing circumstances - nothing irrational at all and totally in line with their experience and professionality. Running out in their socks or in their valenki, was obviously insufficient in the long run, but a wise decision considering the explosive event. Camping on an unprotected slope was part of their challenge, this in order to reach level three in extreme skiing. Sooner or later during their tour, they would have done this type of pitching, but unfortunately they happened to choose the wrong night. Even our own expedition-night on February 1st could have encountered an extremely dangerous situation despite backup preparations and our general experience of similar topography. In fact, we escaped an extreme blizzard with only one night's difference. 

With the extremely low temperatures at hand, the Dyatlov group socks wouldn’t immediately turn wet as long as they moved quickly down to the forest to seek a temporary shelter. The persons wearing valenki (felt boots), like the ones found on Thibeaux-Brignolle, would have last much longer. That Dyatlov and his friends followed the natural groove on the slope, all the way down to the edge and into the woodland, points to the fact that they were well aware of the fastest way to an alternative place of "safety". Not the least does this furthermore indicate that they weren’t lost the day before when pitching the tent on the slope – a sometimes presumed scenario.  Probably and as their footsteps vaguely demonstrate, they went as tight as possible in order to keep together – sometimes venturing apart, likely due to extremely strong winds battering their shoulders. I would even suggest that if the gusts exceeded 25-30 m/s (or much more), some of them could occasionally even have tumbled over exposed parts of the incline. The stone belt below the tent would even have had the potential to cause fractures and open wounds. Smaller projectile-like flakes of ice from the snow cover is another dangerous effect of such forceful winds - although, no exact information on the conditions of the snow during the time is at hand. The broken ribs of Zolotaryov and Dubinina is a different case though. We shall return to that shortly.

After arriving to the forest and eventually into the area of the large cedar tree, the winds would have still been very strong, but the best possible shelter for waiting out the ordeal away from the slope. I think these actions are important, because many would argue that fleeing from the tent and warm equipment in such conditions, would mean certain death. In line with their outdoor experiences I'm sure they knew that such winds were unfortunate and rare, but hopefully wouldn't last all night. Their tent and equipment, if still in place, would be within grasp as long as they stayed alive elsewhere. It is important to note though that as time passed, irrational behaviour should be expected. In this instance it might explain peculiarities in decisions and behaviour. Hypothermia means that the body core temperature sinks below 35 degrees Celsius. This usually gives symptoms of fatigue, impaired coordination ability, confusion and hallucinations. Eventually, apathy usually kicks in. With a body temperature of around 30 degrees Celsius, most become unconscious.

16) Pedestal footprints preserved on the lower part of the slope. Photo: Dyatlov Foundation
16) Pedestal footprints preserved on the lower part of the slope. Photo: Dyatlov Foundation

When touching upon the footprints left in the snow, there are reports of prints mentioned by the first rescuers arriving to the abandoned tent. These rescuers belonged to the Slobtsov group. One of these UPI-students, Yuri Koptelov, reported footprints as if people were positioned shoulder to shoulder. Depending on the exact location of these prints, it could perhaps reveal the last actions of the group before leaving the tent - how a hurried team spread out alongside the tent in order to effectively bury the wind battered canvas with snow? The preserved footprints on the slope are in large a bit peculiar, but so is a gravity wind. In some places prints are preserved and in some cases gone with the wind. The pedestal prints could be a result of a warm foot creating a harder icy surfuce on the snow - or simply the compressing power from the body weight, where the wind later cleaned the surrounding area (photo no. 16). Obviously, this would have been very effective in strong winds as long as the occurrence was momentary. How warm any foot needed to be, if at all, is very hard say. The perhaps best example of a warm body having melted the snow is the layer found beneath Slobodin which shows that his slowly decreasing body temperature affected the snow below him.

The footprints seen near the tent were on the other hand reported as hollowed. In this case the laying tent could perhaps have steered away most of the wind - this protected by the snow dugout that also sheltered the folded canvas. I would suggest that if the prints were preserved or not, was highly random and that the wind vortexes affected various spots rather unsystematically. Again, the uneven and scooped surface of the snow is very evident in the photo next below (no. 17). Therefore I would like to make a statement to the contrary - that, if the weather would have been calm, then any appearing and suddenly disappearing footprints would really have posed a problem.

17) A scattered search team seen below clear patterns of heavily wind swept snow in the direction of the abandoned tent. The latter is still in place due to its sheltered position behind the snow shelf and by the snow put atop (here removed by the search team). Photo: Dyatlov Foundation.

The next series of important events are harder to fully comprehend, but likely the experienced group purposely split apart temporarily for survival procedures in the forest. As long as they were in constant movement, the better. While Doroshenko and Krivonischenko took responsibility for making a fire, the others started to dig out two bivouacs, one which was retrieved empty in May and likely meant for Slobodin, Dyatlov and Kolmogorova (photo no. 18). The other bivouac, retrieved on May 5th, was less evident but contained the four lastly recovered bodies. The young men at the fire must have struggled hard to get a fire going, which was also evident from their unsuccessful attempts. The two men must have fought the worst since the making of a bonfire (as a backup to the bivouac solution) would have been a tremendous challenge in the cold strong wind. In the end - exhausted and looking for a last solution, perhaps they tried to climb the cedar with frozen limbs, trying to get a glimpse of the tent with its glowing flashlight. Was perchance the tent with its concealed equipment still in position or blown away? Possibly it was the courageous Doroshenko himself, as the tallest member in the group, that climbed the tree. This must have been a real tough attempt considering stun hands and feet. A wound in his armpit is perhaps a revealing sign of slipping down against branches. According to the groups dressing sequences and the use of Doroshenko’s and Krivonischenko’s clothing, we must assume that they died first. The others eventually managed to get the two bivouacs ready for use. 

Studying the body positions of Kolevatov, Zolotaryov and Thibeaux-Brignolle, it seems as if they were lying snugly behind each other to keep warm. Zolotaryov even had a pen and a paper in his hands which gives the impression of being rather in control. This is in stark contrast to his massive chest wounds that many believe made him inoperable. The same is to say about Dubinina, laying close but in a different angle. She is the second person having unexplainable and crushing chest wounds. We should remember though that she had Krivonischenko’s trousers wrapped around her feet. As in the case of Zolotaryov, these actions does not rhyme with deadly wounds caused early during the ongoing events. I would rather suggest that a bivouac housing the four people, collapsed and trapped them inside. Perhaps the position of Dubinini froze her in a position of entering the shelter or that she simply slipped away with the underlying stream during spring from a previous position near Zolotaryov and Thibeaux-Brignolle. No fir bedding was found beneath the four due to the shelters position over the stream. By the 5th of May, such bedding would have vanished from its position, floating downstream. 
 

18) The retrieved empty bivouac, prepared with branches of fir. Photo: Dyatlov Foundation
18) The retrieved empty bivouac, prepared with branches of fir. Photo: Dyatlov Foundation

Needless to mention regarding the four bodies found in the assumed collapsed bivouac, are the missing eyes and a tongue, which should be considered a natural cause of decomposition. In fact, eyes are reported as being still in place by the pathologist, but shriveled into the back of the eye cavities. Possible traces of radioactivity in some clothing, may also be explained through for example Kolevatovs earlier commitments in the industry, where such excesses in the clothing were a likely side effect. I would also suggest that the punctured chests of Zolotaryov and Dubinini were caused by the weight of the collapsing den – that is, a gradual compression and process over time (see further below). In the case of Lyuda, it could have been due to her position over a stone shelf and with Sasha taking most of the weight in his central position of the shelter. The autopsy even makes clear that it was hard to estimate if certain wounds were ante- or postmortem. One should also keep in mind that Sasha and Lyuda could have acquired survivable fractures in their chest (although causing internal bleeding) that eventually led to their symptomatic postmortem compressions below almost 3 meters of heavy layers of snow. Lyuda for example, like Doroshenko, had wounds in her armpit which could indicate a fall from a tree or similar, which at the same time might have fractured her ribs - later to cause compression of her thorax.

Furthermore, it is often stated that Lyudmila had blood in her stomach and that this would suggest that she was alive when her tongue was injured - or perhaps even removed by any ill-meaning force. This is however not a case of what’s ante- or postmortem, but rather a result of wishful thinking. The pathologist never wrote of blood in her stomach, but simply mentioned the presence of a red substance. This could be anything from her last meal to any other substance finding its way down her throat whilst she was positioned with her face against running water for many days. Furthermore, if it perchance was blood in her stomach, it could be a result of many other circumstances. One shall also remember that hypothermia-related deaths are still among the most difficult cases for postmortem diagnosis in forensic medicine. There are several cases where changes in gastric mucosa have been seen in hypothermia-related deaths. Ulcers and multiple bleedings in the stomach as a result of severe hypothermia are quite normal. Even if the pathologist in the Dyatlov case only mentioned a “red substance,” we can presume that it in fact was blood as a result of hypothermia. Although not as a result of Lyudmila’s tongue being detached while still being alive. 

I also want to stress another problematic occurrence that is seldom raised. This concerns the damage to some bodies as caused by the searching sticks when probing for the members of the group. We know for example that Ludmila’s body tissue was damaged by such sticks - which was not mentioned in the autopsy report. This might be another shortcoming when separating wounds as ante- or postmortem. Usually everything should be accounted for in any pathology report, but the description of her body shows that no difference to the type of wounds was made when analyzed. Furthermore, whether skull fractures could occur through this kind of probing technique, depends. The most serious fractures are related to the last recovered bodies. In the search for the since long deceased, we can assume that the search team could have hit quite hard when pushing through the deep snow of the ravine. In the context of a damaged skull, it should also be mentioned that any generated crack may enhance through repeated cycles of freezing and thawing between the time of recovery and examination. Furthermore and perhaps most important are the consequences of freezing fluids and putrefaction gases - this in combination with a heavy snow cover, which could have had distinct effects on both bone- and soft tissue during postmortem. Regarding the fractured ribs of Zolotaryov and Dubinini, a thorough analysis in line with these circumstances, should also be considered in the light of postmortem evidence (read more here). Thus, the problem of separating post- and antemortem injuries, still generate ambiguous interpretations. The above-mentioned particulars should be considered as decisive alternatives to any postulated injuries associated with events prior to the death of the group. Unfortunately, it is today difficult to reach any compelling conclusions without accessible cellular tissue and we are therefore entirely in the hands of various knowledge-based interpretations.

Thus, my hypothesis of the subsequent events is that the rest of the team, Slobodin, Dytlov and Kolmogorova never settled in the nearby bivouac for long – that is, in the bivouac that was retrieved empty in May and still prepared with branches of fir (photo no. 18). Perhaps the chocking experience of this potential death trap, collapsing over their friends and with insufficient strength to help out, gave them only one last option - that of trying to get back to the tent. They never succeeded, but knew exactly the direction to the tent. Biting her numb knuckles, Kolmogorova along with her two friends, finally fell asleep from one of natures many sinister occurrences - the somewhat rare but otherwise well documented, falling winds
 

19) The Village of Vizhay. Sixty years have passed since the terrible events in the Dyatlov pass. Many things have changed - some things stays the same. Photos: Dyatlov Foundation / Richard Holmgren.

The conclusions presented here can obviously be broaden much further. But hopefully the ideas can provide a general outline of a perhaps rather commonsensical event. The series of actions can off course be rethought and modified, but my take despite some perchance hastily concluded details, is that the driving "unknown compelling force" was in fact an unforeseen and strong gravity wind. Humbly, I consider this as a straight forward and rather uncomplicated solution to a 60 year long mystery. 


Many thanks to my friend and Dyatlov-expedition partner Andreas Liljegren, for input, sober ideas and awakening thoughts. And - a sincere apology to all offended yetis lurking around in the forests of Ural.
 
Richard Holmgren, February 10, 2019
ARCDOC, Archaeological Documentation

20) Many thanks to Vladimir and Vladislav for their great hospitality when repacking in the village of Vizhay. Merits to a great team and kudos to my little Milou for being patient when adventure looms. 
 

21) ...and thanks to the inhabitants of Yekaterinburg for a welcoming stay - what a lovely town and people!

The katabatic wind - in short

The katabatic wind derives from the Greek word katabasis (κατάβασις), which means “descending”. This type of falling wind can appear when cold air over a glacier or a mountainous area starts to flow down a gradient. The phenomenon can be described as a ball rolling downhill by gravity, hence it is also labelled gravity wind – a wind that carries high-density air from a higher elevation down a slope. The definition of a katabatic wind is sometimes also referred to as a fall wind. Since cooled air has a higher density than the surrounding atmosphere, the katabatic wind can sometimes accelerate to the force of a hurricane. The strongest of these winds are usually found on drops surrounding mighty ice sheets, but can also occur over cooled mountain areas similar to the topography surrounding the Dyatlov pass. A similar landscape to the mountains south of Otorten can for example be found in Sweden, in the rolling terrain of Anaris. In February of 1978, dammed cooled air was here put in motion very quickly with devastating consequences for a group of nine skiers. The group of two women and seven men were then overtaken by wind speeds up to at least 20 m/s – an explosive scenario that erupted out of a rather calm and pleasant skiing tour. Only one of them survived - this after being found far away from a temporary and insufficient snow shelter made by the core group. A Swedish wind record for such wind is for example 81 m/s which was documented in 1992 at the Tarfala research station. In this case we are not even talking about the ice sheet over Antarctica, where such winds are normally considered the strongest.
 

katabatic wind could initiate when cold air atop a higher point begins to flow downhill, displacing warmer air below. If the lower elevations are comparatively much warmer - the stronger the wind. In most places where the phenomenon appears, it usually does so at night when the temperature drops. An interesting note in the Dyatlov group diary, made a short period of time before the accident, described a relatively warm wind associated to a “jet-engine”. The wind was blowing from the valleys below under a blue sky. This could potentially have laid the foundation for the unfortunate events that unfolded between the 1st and 2nd of February in 1959. 
 

Dyatlov pass Katabatic wind

What is important to realize regarding falling winds, is that they appear quickly as opposed to a storm. A storm would give you time to dress and secure or dismantle a tent properly. A tent that is not built for extreme winds, would rather swiftly tear to pieces if confronted with falling winds - this unless it was saved in seconds. In the case of the Dyatlov group the only survivable scenario would be to run out, conceal the tent and to wait out the ordeal elsewhere, later to regain the buried equipment. If the event would continue for a longer time or if the outside temperature is far too low, the consequence would be deadly without suitable shelters or helping hands. One fast way to save a tent from disappearing in the wind, would be too cover it with the adjacent snow masses – this in turn sheltered behind an already prepared snow wall/shelf. In fact, collapsing a tent to reduce the chances of wind damage, followed by a shielding of snow to hold the tent down, is expected in such situations. In the event of a katabatic wind, the Dyatlov team acted skillfully by shadowing the steps above. This could in fact explain why the tent was located with a protective snow cover and a flashlight - likely used as a beacon for relocating the position. Such scenario with subsequent outcomes, was presented by the Swedish-Russian Dyatlov Expedition of January/February 2019, as the causes to the incident in 1959. See above. 
 

In the photos taken by the rescue team, clear traces of snow affected by strong wind can be seen pointing towards the tent from the peak of Kholat Syakhl. The actual pattern demonstrates heavily wind swept snow, where vortexes have hollowed out scoop-shaped cavities. These are comparable to so called zastrugi or in Russian, заструги. Extremely high winds would furthermore make it hard to stand upright. Any possible ice sheet or other flying light objects, besides extremely low temperatures generated through the cooling effect, could theoretically create austere body trauma. However, the severe injuries found on the last four recovered bodies should in the case of a katabatic event, be tied to other circumstantial evidence - such as pressure from a collapsed snow shelter and natural decomposition due to three months of exposure in the prevailing environment. The same can be expected from traces of radioactivity in selected clothes, associated to earlier commitment in the industry by members in the group. Possible light phenomena or spheres reported in the sky thereafter, cannot be associated with a katabatic wind. However and with regard to the sky, katabatic winds could indeed explain sudden plane crashes in the region, were falling winds are one of the most unpredictable and dangerous occurrences associated to such ventures. 
 


Richard Holmgren, February 22, 2019
ARCDOC, Archaeological Documentation

The 2019 expedition narrated by Bedtime Stories

Richard Holmgren and Andreas Liljegren, Dyatlov Pass 2019. Illustration: courtesy of Bedtime Stories 2019.

The team behind the celebrated YouTube series “Bedtime Stories”, have a real passion for the unexplained. Their productions combine stunning illustrations with well researched and spellbinding narration. In their recent episode “Return to Dead Mountain” (The Dyatlov Pass Incident - Part 3), their video and Podcast depicts our expedition and new theory of 2019. Kudos to a great production team for presenting our effort in this thrilling manner - not the least for being cartoonized, which really felt awarding. 

NOTE! In the podcast it is incorrectly stated that the first three to die were Slobodin, Dyatlov and Kolmogorova. This is not correct and not in line with our theory. Instead - these individuals were the last to die. 
 
See Bedtime Stories and the episode “Return to Dead Mountain”, here.

Comments? Please give input, oppose or enrich the theory above.

  • David • 12 juli 2020 22:19:00
    Hi,
    First, I am sorry that the start of my post may be read as critique on this page of yours. It was not my intention. It was meant as a general comment relating to a number of papers and articles I have seen.
    Actually, I thought it was amazing to see the extent of your effort, including actually going there in person. Also, I quite understood the level of adventure embedded, but I still tip my hat for you on walking the walk not just talking the talk.
    All, in all, I think you really contributed with the katabatic wind aspect and the ideas presented generally fits the rather fuzzy situation at hand.
    I feel you hit the nail on the head when it comes to how the site was treated in the first place when examined.
    The situation seems to have been confused and involving amateur volunteers. I have read that members of at least one search party actually drank from a bottle found in the tent Just “Toasting” Some... When reading some transcripts from testimonies by these people, it seems they were noticeable confused at times (after this “toasting”?). Leave vodka? Perhaps leave an opened bottle with some vodka still in it? Not proper! Leaving an opened bottle on the table is bad luck and saying no is not an option. Me, I think it is insane to drink alcohol while in such an environment on duty or not.
    The bivouac discussion may be a side thing but still fruitful to rewind. In some stories from others, I have not seen any mentioning of bivouacs. In some case, instead the idea of a natural hollow below the snow surface and victims falling into this onto rocks at the bottom. Yet more speculation? Maybe. Relevant? Maybe, maybe not.
    While a stick is a surprisingly good digging tool in the dirt during the summertime, I cannot see a stick or branch work with some kinds of snow. For carving out blocks of solid, freezed up snow, maybe, but not much else. I must admit I had doubts about the bivouac part, even so with some photos shown. That said, even a simple snow bivouac without any fire may serve you well in extreme cold.
    From personal experience, I must say the person making the fire must have had amazingly good skill in fire making. Even some luck even.
    With numb hands and shivers, being exhausted, scared and stressed out, fire making in harsh conditions is extremely hard. Even IF you got something going, you are likely to have the fire out within 5-15 minutes or so if you had not prepared fireplace and material very well.
    Yes, a big, simple, survival bonfire may be the thing, but you still need some nerve and some luck to actually get it going.

    As for the situation inside the tent. OK, I have no experience from having strong winds wrecking the shelter while grabbing my clothes and boots. Whenever things got mixed up from their proper places, things did get harder and slower in the dark.
    Having a sleeping bag helped as small clothing items could be put into this. In general, each in my tents had to make a real effort to have clothing on each person’s place in the tent and not mix up things. While I have seen some reference hinting the victims had sleeping bags, the consensus seems to be that they did NOT. Just two blankets in the tent sound very strange though.
    The total weight of all persons and all gear inside the tent must have been substantial. I understand they did store all their backpacks INSIDE the tent.

    It was interesting to see that you - as I - questioned the cutting of the canvas in the tent. I tried to back track this claim and it seems to me the very first person reporting about claiming to be the first to look inside and see the damage simply assumed it was cut from the inside and then reported this as a fact. Also, an official report seemed to argue the cut was made by someone from the inside because no knife was found inside, a very strange argument at best.
    I am flabbergasted that it seems that no one made a forensic examination of the tent, including performing the test you mentioned yourself. I have not read books on the incidents so I may very well have missed something. I have mostly seen speculation and assumptions this far. The tent has been described as a custom job needing constant repair. Considering the winds you describe, perhaps the design and condition of it was not up to the task? That and the fact they did not have the stove as their heat source (no fuel?) perhaps drove them out from their tent? A stove can do miracles in a tent during extreme cold, I am sure you agree.

    You are perfectly correct there is some merit in comparing with the Anaris incident. The perceived speed of events without one’s own control is a factor. Some claims there were signs, but these signs was not observed by the victims, also it is a good principle to stop when some team members get the first mild frost bites or is getting overly tired, thus not strechning the luck of the group. Anyways, it is my impression that leassons were learned in Sweden from the Anaris incident.
    All the best
    David
  • Hi again David – no, don’t be sorry – I completely understand your point here. I wish I could approach the case scientifically like any archaeological study. It is necessary – but with all the contradictions, such a paper would rather be an investigation of the investigation. However – the basis of more measurable facts such as the probability of a katabatic wind or not – can actually be investigated in depth. That will come. I really appreciate your approach, because it makes us better and it makes us think about the case in a sober way.
    Regarding the effort of going there I tip my hat for you tipping your hat. Yes it was burdensome – but it is a level III track, isn’t it? To tell you the truth, it is a hard job to ski through pristine snow with heavy equipment – but it is doable. I’m not exceptionally fit. But as you know – something as interesting as this will push you forward. The hardest part was actually the planning – what to bring and what things would be useful in that environment – and the feeling when the snowmobiles left us with our skis in the middle of the forest. It really gets dark in the night and it is hard not to think about all the alternatives to katabatic winds.
    Thank you for your words concerning the katabatic wind – that you felt that it could contribute. It means a lot to me. However – I’m not blind for better alternatives – but the falling wind scenario is really worth exploring since it won’t give you time dress properly. And the low temperatures it brings about is really unbearable. One really has to leave immediately. Strong winds in general are also important to consider – but in that case a sudden tear up of the canvas is as devastating and a quick response is as necessary.
    And yes – true as you say that the first search team tasted the bottle. That bottle was pure alcohol for making fire – imagine if Krivo- and Doroshenko had that bottle when making their bonfire. I think the recovery team also tasted some of the meat found in the tent.
    And yes, true with the dangers of vodka in such environment. But as you know in Russia it is the way to do it. Andreas and I brought some bottles and finished it in the tent in the Auspiya valley. The reason it can be done, is because we ate a lot of lard in the forest – for the energy. This goes well with vodka – I would say it is even necessary. Drinking in the tent together with Swedish tobacco, telling stories and having the endless forests outside, is really something I miss. It was a necessary contrast to the skiing and a way of relaxing your thoughts. After all, the place is really scary. Not a sound in the forests. Not a bird – its to cold. When and if you hear a branch cracking – it really is something moving around. We never heard anything of that fortunately. A funny thing happened though while in Russia, when some papers interviewed us after coming back to Yekaterinburg. In a passing we mentioned the dead scary silence in the forests – and it was completely misunderstood. This is why some articles from Russia, still today on the Internet, says something like “Swedish scientists explains that dead silence killed the 1959 group”.
    Ok, the bivouac discussion – good. Lets rewind. Yes, it could be made open or half open to the sky. Usually in the Dyatlov case it is referred to as dug outs open to the sky prepared with fir in the bottom. This is perhaps not entire clear in my text – but when I describe the den of Zolotaryov, Kolevatov and so forth, I really mean that they probably managed to dig out a den from inside the ravine. It was possible. I know this is dangerous, but in order for them to get warm they needed to get under the snow, desperately. I think this is what they did and therefore we find them in a spooning position - except for Dubunina that seem to subsequently have slipped out with the flow of the water when thawing in May. I do not think they fell through and continued three meters down. Rather they positioned themselves from the beginning beneath a dug out snow cover. That would explain their neat positions and the fact that Zolotaryov still hade pen and paper in his hands. A falling scenario would create a more chaotic context. The simply got buried in their last positions of getting warm. Well, warmer. So – regarding the digging sticks – they were not really necessary. Scooping out snow from the sloping ravine barriers should also have been possible. This lower snow segment is not icy hard.
    Regarding your own experience of fire making – you are right. I cannot till this day understand how they got that fire running. True – it is really an achievement and it shows the level of professionality and experience. This is probably why they went for the larger Siberian cedar tree. The under vegetation with crystals of ice is hopeless to lit. One thing I noticed though when collecting branches for the tent bedding, is that rather thick branches snaps like nothing when temperatures are around minus 40 degrees Celsius. Similar branches during the summer would take ages to cut.
Nice also to read about your experience of the gear inside the tent. True that things usually get really messy with various things mixing in the tent – stuff hiding in heaps and so forth even when you try to keep it in order. It slips around in the dark. The things you want to keep warm inside the sleeping bag – you usually find rather quick. But as you say – the Dyatlov group never used any sleeping bags. Maybe this very fact added to the chaos when nine or eight people run up in panic. I think their boots must have been very wet and this is the reason much of their outer equipment was spread around. The climb to the pass makes you both sweaty and wet from the snow. These things must be removed inside the tent and wet socks replaced with dry ones. And yes – all their gear was stacked inside the tent as isolation.
    Regarding the tent and the cuts, we are right. This is really uncertain at best. It is amazing that one of the most iconic characteristics of this case – “they cut themselves out from the inside in panic” – is really not certain at all. Such wording and thinking have really added fuel to the case in a horrific way. And still none of it may be true. You are right about the bizarre argument about the knife. Truly stunning. Unfortunately, the tent went missing decades ago and probably collected mold in some forgotten corner. That piece of canvas would be worth millions of dollars today. Maybe this should be the next quest. It seems though that it was ripped mostly in its southeastern upper corner. In my view these could in fact be rips caused by strong wind and the actual cause of leaving the tent. In fact – only a symptom of the tent ripping apart could have caused them to act swiftly. And, the pitching of the tent seemed really weak – especially the support of the middle segment that is not even clear how it was done. In the forest they attached the ropes in trees but over the tree line where the wind was the strongest, they ironically had to improvise parts of the pitching. You mention the stove – yes, it is warm when you have enough of fire wood. But the thing is that we mostly fired it up to dry wet clothes in the evening. The leakage during the night was far too severe to make the interior of the tent warm. At a point during the night when the temperature reached minus 35/38 in Auspiya, we stopped feeding the stove with firewood during the night. We lost far too much warmth when moving around - better stay inside the warm cocoon without stretching out the arms and letting cold air in. It took forever to get comfortable again.
    Ok - nice writing with you David and many thanks for valuable input from you as an experiences winter camper. I hope that our conversation can be of value for other Dyatlov nerds. Stay tuned and keep up your excellent analyzing skills. Many thanks! Richard!
    




    13 juli 2020 00:22:00

  • David • 12 juli 2020 15:10:37
    Hi,
    I have some general problems. Just about every report or article I read about this incident seems to be a bit mixed up, lacking in structure, references and sources and lacking in mentioning the whole picture. Significant details mentioned in some places are simply not mentioned in other places. Some sounds like hearsay and the lack of structure, the lack details and lack of references makes it very dim to me. Like talking about photos having significant value but not showing these photos.

    In some cases, it feels a bit unclear what expertise people have and if any expertise they do have is relevant for all they write (false authority syndrome).

    As for this article. Everything about katabatic wind seems true by itself, but HOW relevant is it to the case at hand? (not saying it is irrelevant). What is cause and what is effect I wonder.

    What did they use to dig the bivouacs with if making bivouacs was the goal? Bringing shovels (?) from the tent but nothing else, not even their outer clothes most probably being within an arm’s length inside the tent? From personal experience in tents in close to artic conditions, I say one tended to have cloths and boots within an arm’s length. Even if boots were frozen, it was never a show stopper when putting them on, even in darkness and hurry. One found ones feet and then pushed. I guess it is a bit like the survival instructions at sea: take a few seconds to put on more clothes, it may save you later when exposed in water and wind. In artic conditions, I feel it is very intuitive, like a reflex, as the cold is something you think about a lot and the exposure to it is very personal. A reflex is not so much of a decison.
    This is one of the critical things. Is it really so "wise" to not bring on a jacket and your boots while you hear, feel and see what’s going outside and you for some reason destroy your gear (the tent) to get out and "fix" the problem? Is it even natural when being scared? You know in your bones you must have the clothes and boots.It was cold enough already before the wind now making it colder.

    I have not seen any real evidence or reasons why not the "normal" tent entrance was used. Was it not functional? Was it somehow overly complex? It was not directed against the wind was it and it is a normal reflex to go for what you are used with first, the door.

    The article spends some time on the Anaris incident. Even if katabatic wind may very well have been present in both cases, there are substantial differences in the situations at hand. And in a survival situation, even details may in the end do all the difference. "Then - what kind of sudden "blizzard" killed the Anaris group?" You die of exposure and the chain of events and decisions leading to the exposure and keeping you exposed. It is seldom one single factor at hand. In the Anaris case, one official statement (ISBN 91-7201-747-3) concluded that the decision to seek shelter was made in a too late stage and the shelter was poor. In a way they died from inadequate preparations and equipment, inadequate experience, inadequate decision making and the exposure resulting from all this in the situation at hand.

    " In fact - it was exactly this that killed the Anaris group, where the only survivor escaping the shelter, was the only survivor. He was in constant movement and ventured elsewhere, while the rest froze to death." True, but it is also true he did not wear his underwear only.
    There are pictures of the poor Russian victims and it seems to me that some indeed had only underwear and no boot on each foot.
  • Hej David! Let my write an answer directly out of my head – in order to go through your thoughts and without being stuck here forever. I’ll do my best - have lenience. Many thanks for your input and the most relevant inquiry. Yes, you are very right in the lack of structure, references and sources - and a general confusion of the whole picture. I tried myself to deliver a complete chain of event of the entire scenario - from the skiing up to the last persons to die in 1959. The presentation is far from a scientific one as you can see and I share this with many other theories. Even though there are fancy models and graphs, the underlying details are very subjective. The reason for this is that when you sink into the case, there are so many contradictions and skewed witness descriptions, and as you say “hearsays”, that it is impossible to come out with a sober step by step analysis in line with a scientific approach. My intention was therefore to present an alternative scenario based on, in my view, the most often caused alpine mishaps. I felt this was lacking – and at the time of writing the theory I felt this was a new approach. The only really scientific base for my scenario, would be to present the prerequisites for the wind event. Such presentation will be presented in connection to my page soon and based on a meticulous study by a person familiar to such events and the local geography. The rest is guessing based on the usual but often contradictory material.
    So – to step back a bit – I think that on this level one can and should only test overall plausible scenarios – in my view this is the only thing we can do due to the lack of exact material evidence. One can always write a dissertation about this, but in my view, it is not worth the time. Such work would only be an encyclopedia of contradictions and statements. In my view, it is better to present a plausible overall scenario, like I did, and then see how the more technical and weather-related aspects can be scientifically supported. Then we can come close. If it shows to be unfruitful – then we have to apply other means of interpretation. We are also dependent on body tissue and bones – and for the latter exhumation is still rather unethical.
    Some time ago I was engaged in building a model with the tent on the slope. This was very educational, since it forces you to think of every detail. I then understood that even such obvious details are open for debate and the evidence on spot was destroyed already during recovery. The problem is that the rescue team initially never treated the site and the finds for what it was – but rather collected and disturbed the site since they thought that the Dyatlov group was to be found around the corner alive.
    The overall problem with the Dyatlov case has always been that it was mainly interesting as a myth, a mystery and a legend. And as a factual event it lacked the documentation. The problem with many authors in the subject is that their studies must keep the aura of a mystery to sell their books. Myself – I tried to deliver an interesting story of a past and present adventure pasted on a rather rational interpretation. This doesn’t sell – but functions on a website for people interested. I’m glad you found the way to my site, but my more rational approach is not popular among mystery blogs and articles.
    I’m not sure about your question about how the katabatic wind is relevant to the case at hand – do you mean Andrey Kuryako’s presentation yesterday?
    Regarding the digging of the bivouacs you raise an important question. This cannot be answered with certainty. We know that there is at least one completed bivouac and – as I suggest – another one that collapsed - trapping four in the group. We must assume that they used branches to dig these out and likely the lack of precision when fighting the cold and time, resulted in the unreliably of the structure. I would even suggest that the bivouac in the photo could have been made earlier. There is no secure evidence on when the group arrived to the site for the pitching – or if a part of the group previously or parallel to the pitching made a backup in the forest – when preparing for the grade-3 pitching on the slope. In fact – this is also a plausible scenario lacking evidence. It could in fact answer their prompt decision that without hesitation approach the area where most of the group was found. In other words, there is no trace of a shovel – the fire burned for approx. 1.5 hours and this is in my opinion the time the rest of the group of (7) where hollowing out the sides of the ravine.
    And yes, their shoes were at arm’s length in the tent – mostly lined up in the western part of the tent. I do not however agree with you that it would have been easy to pull the shoes on. A sudden and explosive push of wind from northwest could have disrupted any rational attempt to recover all things in the dark – when the action to save tent from flying, required a response in seconds. When covered with snow there was no time and possibility to recover things inside. Temperatures well below 30 to 45 degrees Celsius in strong wind left them the one option described above. I don’t believe they had to consider or had to reflect on being scared or considered to go out and fix the problem – but rather rushed out instinctively to solve the problem temporarily. Of course, the reason for not having the option to put their shoes on could be found in other theories.
    Regarding the tents entrance to the south, there is as various information. The most common is that it was closed with buttons (add frozen stiff canvas) and therefore the option to cut their way out was faster. I would even say that there is not even a shred of evidence that they cut their way out. Rips could have been natural due to for example strong winds or not even ripped from the inside. This was only a suggestion by sewing ladies in Ivdel, if I remember correctly. I would say that the only out of the ordinary behavior in this case, is why they left without proper gear and why they didn’t return. And I believe that a sudden strong wind scenario explains that – as opposed to a gradually build up of wind over time. Regarding the Anaris comparison – one merit of the comparison is the explosive event – from a pleasant trip to devastating falling cold winds. I used that example to underline how fast a weather phenomenon can change even though the Swedish case didn’t involve a tent. However, it gives an idea of what happened if you stay in harms way without leaving the impact of falling winds. Krister that ventured away lost his limbs but he stayed alive. That could have been the case for some in the Dyatlov group if venturing away and finding help. However – this was not to be found. The situation is comparable though – because (except for the boots) Kolmogorova, Dyatlov and Slobodin had quite many layers of clothing on them. Not enough, but over their mid bodies they were covered. In fact, no one in the Dyatlov group escaped in their underwear. Only Krivonoshenko and Doroshenko were found in this way – but after being stripped by the others. I hope some of my thoughts make sense and many many thanks David for raising pertinent questions - much needed ones. All the best from me… R

    12 juli 2020 18:09:51

  • Rufus Hagen • 24 maj 2020 00:12:48
    This is all well explained and appears quite convincing. One small thing. In the comments to the youttube bedtime stories outline of the theory, some viewers have asked why the groups members hadn't put on their clothing. I guess it was because they has no time, their fingers were numb because they already had gotten cold, and very likely their clothes were frozen, so no way to put them on quickly. Again, this is very much in line with the katabatic wind theory. (And after typing this, I saw you have given that answer already.) However, perhaps they made one small mistake by not attempting to take their sleeping bags with them. That might have been possible and perhaps could have saved some of them. I believe that the three who tried to get back were on the misson to recover some sleeping bags or any kind of useful cover, but too late.
    I must say I am very much taken aback by some of the comments I saw on the bedtime stories youtube video. I think that many people have written comments who have never ever experienced snow or have never been in the mountains. I have when I went skiing in the Alps, and I must say that it is hard to imagine the sudden and potentially life threatening effects of a weather change in snow-covered mountains without ever having experienced it. It is remarkable even if it is only slight. Already the temperature drop and the significantly reduced visibility can be a considerable hazard.
  • Hi Rufus! Thanks for your insightful comment. Yes, the group likely had a hard time finding their clothes due to the chaos in the dark. This under extreme distress. They did however already have most of their clothes on, except for the outer shells and the boots. The reason for many being rather “well” dressed, compared to common misconceptions that they didn’t, is that they camped/slept well dressed. I agree with you that many people are making presumptions without having experience of hiking in such conditions. A change in the weather condition could make thinks more difficult on many levels - with domino effects. Since they didn’t use sleeping bags, we can just speculate in why the last members of the group tried to reach back to the tent. Probably it concerned outer shells and various other life supporting items. But by this time their feet and hands were probably gone forever.

    24 maj 2020 11:03:30

  • Juna May • 21 maj 2020 19:43:59
    The most logical and thorough explanation I read. Strong work.
  • Oh, thanks Juna! Good to hear that it makes sense.

    21 maj 2020 22:24:31

  • Nancy • 4 mars 2020 00:50:02
    Hello! Thank you for this write up and for the time abd efforts you all went through to offer a logical theory! I admire your ambition and dedication, you are so incredibly awesome! I was wondering about those tilting trees...why are they tilted that way?

    :)

    Peace out and take care!
  • Nancy, mostly these tilted trees are positioned close to the riverbed. Periodically the strong flow of water undermines the loose sand bed under their roots. This makes them fall into the river row by row. And, thank you so much for your words about the presented material! I’m really honored!

    4 mars 2020 01:04:57

  • Dan alex • 23 februari 2020 08:51:26
    I agree with your findings.may God bless them lost souls.
  • Yes, God bless. So many theories. It isn’t easy to let them go.

    23 februari 2020 17:02:17

  • Martin P. • 14 februari 2020 14:55:04
    Dear Richard!

    Thank you for your answer. This case was caused by natural forces, this is an essential thing. The theory of catabatic winds sounds very good.

    There may be a number of scenarios, different sub-versions, and it is difficult to read the whole situation today. I think that everyone who sees it like results of the natural force of winter mountains in this case is able to find elemental consensus to other and we understand each other well.

    I do not doubt the Daytlov team's hikers experience, but the weather in winter mountains often surprises even experienced senior-leader mountaineers with similar deadly consequences.

    Boots (valenki): It is very difficult to put on leather or textile boots in the cold winter mountains, which got wet and sweat through during the day, and froze overnight on ice stones. The fact of impossibility to put on the frozen boots QUICKLY on legs is very important. It is possible to get out of the tents in the cold mountains for a while only in socks (eg modify a tent, to pee), but everyone knows that without shoes, skies, gloves, hats is there an extremely deadly risk. We always put our leather boots on for pee outside the tent in snow mountains. Later, inner softy shoes from plastic Koflach boots were often used. Valenki boots are soft, they can slap and freeze on pancakes in a pile. Valenki are filled with newspapers when drying (if someone carries newspapers on the tops of the mountains), but only later in the mountain huts. Often boots must be dried directly on the foot in the tent.

    Personally, I think many of today's Internet and media debates who whirl the mysterious and UFO elements around Daytlov's expedition have never had frozen boots on stone ... And they can't imagine very hard conditions in the winter mountains.

    Here it is necessary to draw attention to the current relatively frequent deaths in the "queue" of Mount Everest and the lack of interest of hikers climbing the top of the mountain who ignore the dying hikers beside the trail. This happens even in nice weather.

    In this comparison, Daytlov's expedition, I believe, was exemplary and human.

    Martin P.
    2020-02-14
  • Martin P. • 13 februari 2020 14:21:29
    Dear Mr. Holmgren!

    Thank You very much for your efforts to clarify this event realistically, completely without transcendental phenomena and conspiracy theories. I also thank you for the decent and sensitive honor of the victims of this winter accident.


    It is very difficult to imagine the situation that led them to the decision to leave their tent without shoes, gloves, caps, warm clothing, blankets and food.
    There were no extraterrestrial aliens, special forces or drugged berkserk Mansi. No UFOs, no doomsday device tests, no conspiracy. Windy cold winter mountains only.

    I believe the driving force for leaving their tent was a sudden shock. I think it MIGHT have been a snow layer (but not a large avalanche) drifting by a gust of katabatic wind on their tent. It might have been also broken rope under weight of the layer of blown snow by wind. It might have squeezed them lightly, hung the tent down and totally frightened them. They did not have extensive survival experience of mountaineers in winter mountains.

    Certainly they knew certain procedures to behave in an avalanche, perhaps from handbooks and articles from hikers magazines. But there were not many such magazines and manuals in Russia in 1959. It could have been rather various orally given advice and procedures in the UPI school club. Here it is necessary to do research of Russian hikers literary sources, circulars of the UPI club and what knowledge and skills Daytlov's hikers could have. Zolotaryov served during WWII in the army. Irreplaceable experience. And Zolotaryov wore his boots before he left the tent.

    The question of social psychology in Daytlov's group is very important. Perhaps it is not dignified to discuss various behaviors, potential tensions, it is already for the novel writers. It can be very honest and heroic, but also ugly horror.

    It seems to me that it happened in the evening before total darkness, 17-22 hours, OR during dawn at 05-10 hours AM. It is possible that Zina was lost in katabatic storm on the way to the cedar. Daytlov went to find her and Slobodin to help him. Two guys, Doroshenko and Krivonischenko fell asleep exhausted and froze under the cedar near the extinction and cooling fire. And the last four people died in the collapse of snow in the second den. Perhaps they found a second den, a snow cave above a watercourse during the construction of the first den. Sometimes snow and ice are layered over watercourses. And this snow cave collapsed and buried them under the weight of snow in the katabatic cyclone.

    There are many versions. People are often very fixated on details. Let me also mention one less important detail: the flashlight found on the layer of snow on tent was turned off. When the rescuer Boris Slobtsov switched on the flashlight on February 26, 1959, this torch was lit, after a month of frost! It maybe could have been their own flashlight belonging to the rescuers. Once the flashlight came into investigation and rescuers couldn't return it back... (Russia, 1959!). Is it even possible for the 1959 Russian commercial batteries to keep charged after a month of frost? (Who knows socialist battery cells knows well). What kind of Chinese flashlight and number and size of cell were it? And is this flashlight essential in the case?

    There are many other random details that are easy to explain. Anyone who takes photographs understands Zolotary's camera was on his neck - he just wears it still with him. It could have been otherwise, but no mystery. There is no point in fixing on similar random events (see flashlight above). These details are irrelevant for the core of the matter. The core of problem is: they quickly and suddenly left their tent and were exposed to cold, wind and snow in winter mountains. An important detail is the three watches of the expedition members and a simulation of how long the watch could work in frost.



    I admire the experimental archaeological method of Dr. Holmgren. I would not have the courage to do so.
    Well, there are people among us who still perceive nature as a powerful element. A powerful element that can do this without the help of a UFO, yetti or conspiracy.

    Honor the memory of the deceased members of Dyatlov expedition. Rest in Peace.

    Martin P.
    2020-02-13
  • Dear Martin. Thank you so much for your input and insightful comment. You have a lot of interesting angles to complement the understanding of the case. Really nice of you to post them here. Thank you also for your respectful attitude to our expedition and the 1959-group.

    Yes, and as you say, the shock-effect is important to consider. As you write, there could be other consequences following a fall wind scenario. Snow could have slipped from above as a result of the pushing wind. This could explain the chaos finding all their stuff in an already broken tent. High winds with the chilling factor wouldn’t have let them to organize equipment on spot. Could be. I just want to point out that even if it was the wind only – and before covering their tent with snow to prevent the tent from flying – there would in my scenario still be no time to find or use their boots. I remember from the pass, that even under controlled situations, it took a lot of time to put on the boots. With such low temperatures it is a huge challenge to lace with bare hands. However – this would not have prevented them from bringing their shoes – and it is therefore I presented the scenario in the text above. I also think that a snow slab is not really necessary for the overall understanding of the tent situation. This was originally suggested in order to explain the compressed chests of two of the campers. As I explain above – this should be connected to the collapsed den – especially since Zolotarev seemed active until the end.

    We shall also remember that these were experienced hikers – some of them, especially Dyatlov himself had a long experience of expeditions both to the polar region of the Urals and for example, the Caucasus. However – and as you suggest, one never get experienced enough. This is why we still hear of accidents among professionals. It is the very nerve among many similar expeditions to push the situation. Most keep it safe, while some keeps it safe and still encounter the extreme forces of nature. How much experience the 1959-group had about possible extreme weather scenarios (assuming it really was the weather), is hard to tell – at least for me. It is as you write Martin, this could be researched within the UPI club. It is easy to forget the knowledge of such possible events, especially for people nowadays with all the easily accessible information always at hand. As you noted, Zolotarev had his valenki on – we don’t know why, but it is likely that he already had them on. When staying around the tent, one usually uses the valenki exposed in the snow. The cold snow itself won’t melt the snow and make these wet. This is in fact natural, since the first thing you do after pitching the tent – is to air your feet and make yourself more comfortable. We used both valenki and down camping boots for this purpose. 

    You also mention the social aspects of the group and its psychology. I think this is very crucial and important. Even if it didn’t cause the fleeing from the tent, it certainly played a role in the hours to come – especially when hypothermia kicked in or when matters of survival overtook any rational behavior. We know that Igor himself was not an easy guy and I can only imagine how this might have caused problems both before and after any serious situation. I have myself experience in this – because usually when it comes to extreme hiking we often encounter the most extreme of personalities. When it comes to harsh environments many persons are very eager to prepare everything in meticulous details. At the same time, they won’t go for a similar expedition if it wasn’t for the adventure itself. And, since adventures are often characterized by the unforeseen – this doesn’t add up and could create awkward situations between any group members. As you say, understandings such as these rather belong to a novel, but are still important to consider. We also know that a photograph of Zina was found inside Igor’s left behind jacket and that both he and Doroshenko have had a close relationships with Zina.

    Regarding Zina and her possible death and when/why – leading to a situation where the others tried to locate her – we can only speculate. We should remember though that she was found with socks only. This suggests that she found herself in the same situation as the others. In order for her to get lost before the others, it must as such have been due to the same circumstances. But as you say – the den could very well have collapsed after the death and attempt of Zina, Slobodin and Igor to retrieve equipment in the tent. I do not think so though. I suggest these three died last – because there would be no reason for them to get back to the tent when they were much safer in the second den. This is why I discuss the situation of them returning after the shocking experience of the other four being trapped in the collapsed den – and not being able to help out due to exhaustion – very much as in the Anaris case. When it comes to the collapsed den – it might very well be as you say, that it was a natural space that they could have used. It could explain its unsteadiness. How and why it collapsed is open for speculation – it could be due to the wind situation? But we must remember that these kinds of winds are challenging when falling along a slope – they are much weaker away from Kholat Syakhl. This is why they could manage to make a fire – although a small and probably short lived one. And, also the reason for escaping to this very position – a place as far as possible from the slope but not completely beyond reach.
    
When it comes to the flashlight, the story of it being turned off or on, is a bit ambivalent. I know it is often said it was turned off, but according to Slobtsov, if I remember correctly, the rusty switch was fumbled with when found. Thus, it is hard to say if it was on or off. And about the light being able to flash after such long period – I would say that this is not necessarily strange. Batteries exposed to heat on an occasionally sunlit slope could in fact kick in for a short while even if discharged afore. It could also be that the flashlight belongs to someone in the rescue team, but it wouldn’t probably be in its poor state then. In any case you are right about the issue with the flashligt Martin. It is hard to conclude what is right or wrong here. In any case it doesn’t change the fall-wind scenario and if the flashlight was used as a beacon or not. In any case – if put there by the group, I think it would have stayed on spot. Many argue that the wind would have taken it – but the dugout snow shelf was protecting it. This is why the tent was quite secure when its uppermost structure was pushed down under snow and behind the shelf. 

Regarding Zolotarevs camera, it is another possible important detail. In my view there are conflicting stories here. The actual camera seen around his neck, could in fact be the leather case without the actual camera. Many have argued for this and that it was in fact found in the tent among the other cameras. I’m not sure here, but for me it doesn’t change any wind scenario. In a likelihood it was found around his neck due to the poor preservation of the film being exposed to water. There could have been many reasons for him to have brought the camera, if indeed so. If he had it within reach during the chaotic scene in the tent, there is no reason for him to not put it around the neck. When fleeing they likely didn’t know where thing s would end and such item is quite valuable. Better take it. In my view there are also indications in the photos on the film in his camera, that night lit taiga with snow is discernable. This mean it could be photos taken among the trees – either from the last day in Auspiya or in fact among the trees during their last night. Zolotarev seemed to be eager to document the situation, not the least due to the fact that he was found with paper and pen in his hand. I wouldn’t make any definite conclusions here due to the bad state of the negatives – but behind the natural scuffs on the film plain (often interpreted as flying objects or explosions or what not), it looks to me as if there are indeed several snow-covered firs along a slope. The rather dark situation that night would suggest that it regards exposures from the previous day – unless something lit the snow in order to produce visible exposures. Regarding the watches and how long these could go on ticking, is hard to tell – it very much depends on their respective habits of “reloading the tension spring”, or how you say this in English . But in all probability, I see no reason for these mechanical watches to stop ticking abruptly due to the cold. 

    Ok Martin, thank you so much for bringing up these important and detailed thoughts of yours. Some of them might be very important for the overall understanding. The devil is in the details. An – contrary to your belief, I’m sure you would have the courage to ski to the pass. Without any unforeseen danger, the forests and the pass is extremely beautiful. Cheers! /Richard

    13 februari 2020 18:17:35

  • YogiBlair • 14 januari 2020 19:27:10
    I have been intrigued with this case for years and decided to revisit recently. I didn’t expect to see such a logical explanation, and seeing as how you followed in the footsteps of their journey, very credible. You should definitely write a novel because of all this, I think that it would be inspirational to people that take so many angles at looking into mysteries and conspiracies. One thing that I noticed in documenting your trip is that you said that several of your zippers failed on your equipment. I’m thinking it could have been the case for these guys as well in why they cut the tent. Aside from that your style in investigating and explaining all matters I’m relating to this case were just as interesting as the case itself! Great work
  • YogiBlair! Many thanks for your comment and input! Yes, skiing in the footstep felt necessary. I was surprised myself to witness the lack of information about skiing up to the pass. I think that the Auspiya valley is so important for the overall understanding of the efforts leading up to the event. The skiing really tears on your body physically when no tracks are present in the forest and because of the cold weather in general. When you arrive to the pass you are really exhausted. This feeling of constant threat of weather changes and how vulnerable you are in this area, really expanded on this theory. The weather has always been my presumption and especially after experiencing the freezing winds on Kholat. For me the mystery was more related to their stamina and the impact of weather - how bad could it be?
    In fact, a quite funny conversation happened when passing Ivdel on the way to the pass. Some locals asked where we would go skiing. We said that we were heading for the Auspiya valley leading to the Dyatlov Pass. They said that this was not recommended since there are no tracks there and it is more beautiful and easier if we pass further north. No words about the Dyatlov incident and the reason for choosing this specific route.
    It feels even more inspirational to finish the TV-documentary after your words. Thanks! It will not be a novel though, since I feel that so much is already written about the case and people in general wants a mystery and not anything pragmatic. Thus, any such material will be DOA. The expanding myths are however important as well – not the least do we see this among the mansi people in their daily life. However – for me the less complicated explanation felt natural – this since strong winds have killed in similar situations before. I like to mythologize other topics though - in this case it felt over the top :)
    Indeed, as you write – the zippers are important to consider. In fact, the Dyatlov group didn’t have any zippers on the tent – buttons only. But this is still a very important factor since buttons are often worse than zippers in the cold. One problem is cold fingers dealing with buttons since you usually have to operate these without gloves. Another thing regards the canvas which usually gets very stiff in the cold. To unbutton a closed tent at these temperatures could require up to a minute. This can off course be devastating when for example a falling wind grabs the tent. Cutting yourself out to save the tent and the equipment requires swift action.
    Many thank again for your kind words and interest in the expedition and this new theory! /R

    14 januari 2020 20:45:36

  • gunnar • 9 januari 2020 08:55:46
    I've just created a podcast for an assignment at school based on your magnificent research and theorisation. This site is very informative and I would and will recommend it to any of my colleagues wishing to also study this magnificent case.
  • Oh, thank you Gunnar for these words! Good luck with the Podcast and humble thanks for sharing info to the site. I hope my theory makes sense among other interesting theories. Cheers! /R

    9 januari 2020 17:57:40

  • Erika • 11 december 2019 00:17:52
    Caspita, che impresa! Complimenti. Condivido la vostra teoria, molto più convincente di tante sciocchezze strampalate che sono nate attorno alla disavventura di quei poveri ragazzi, che meritano rispetto e un ricordo dignitoso. Di certo hanno fatto tutto ciò che era loro possibile fare, con competenza e intelligenza. Sono stati purtroppo molto sfortunati.
  • Grazie per le tue parole Erika. È interessante notare che anche tu condividi l'idea che sembrano aver fatto tutto il possibile per sopravvivere - in un modo professionale. Non è davvero facile fare tutto che hanno fatto nella foresta prima che il freddo diventasse travolgente. Grazie!

    11 december 2019 00:34:20

  • Niklas • 18 oktober 2019 22:21:44
    "Thanks Niklas! Yes, this would be a problem indeed, but we must be careful here. This year Andrei Kuryakov, for example, explained the problem why the criminal case dates to February 6 which is, as you say, well before they started their search. The explanation for this lies in the fact that a criminal case should have the dates of the first and last documents filed in that very case-file. If I remember correctly, the earliest date in the file refers to a paper relating to the Vizhay Forestry Department.
    12 oktober 2019 11:24:41"

    Perhaps? But we also have the prosecutor's handwritten letter dated February 15, which has been confirmed as genuine.

    When they were only three days late, no one suspected anything already on the 15th, they claim to have been found only on the 26th of february, the prosecutor knew about the incident already on the 15th.

    In combination with the other papers it creates a stronger case.
  • True Niklas, adding the paper of the 15th of February, could create a stronger case. It might very well be evidence of fault play. My opinion, in the meantime, favors meteorological reasons behind the group’s death. IMO the traces and indications of the latter are stronger than the dating of the paper trail - which at least in one case have a natural explanation. In any case your points are important and should be weighed in. Thanks for this Niklas!

    23 oktober 2019 19:35:31

  • Niklas • 12 oktober 2019 02:23:16
    It's just a problem... if everything can be explained by natural causes, there was no reason for the authorities to fabricate a false story and keep facts secret...
    They started an investigation long before they officially knew about the incident ...
    This circumstance punches a hole in all harmless natural explanations...

    Det är bara ett problem... om allt kan förklaras av naturliga orsaker fanns det ingen orsak för myndigheterna att fabricera en falsk berättelse och hemlighålla fakta, man inledde en undersökning långt innan man officiellt kände till händelsen.

    Denna omständighet slår hål på alla naturliga och ofarliga förklaringar.

  • Thanks Niklas! Yes, this would be a problem indeed, but we must be careful here. This year Andrei Kuryakov, for example, explained the problem why the criminal case dates to February 6 which is, as you say, well before they started their search. The explanation for this lies in the fact that a criminal case should have the dates of the first and last documents filed in that very case-file. If I remember correctly, the earliest date in the file refers to a paper relating to the Vizhay Forestry Department.

    12 oktober 2019 11:24:41

  • mary eileen mcnamara • 5 oktober 2019 02:59:32
    You and your group are brilliant! I still think if I was in the Dyatlov group I wouldn't leave the tent under any circumstances without my shoes and coat. I know they thought they might die in the tent, but surely they would die without their clothes. I do recall there was scattered clothes outside the tent and maybe they tried to grab their clothes and they blew out of their hands?
    I also think you are geniuses for speaking 2 languages, English and Swedish.
  • Many many thanks Mary! You are right – I think the hardest thing to accept is the fact that they left without proper dressing – outer shell and proper shoes. But due to the dramatic situation, they must have had to decide in an instance. Remaining on the slope in the swift wind with extreme subzero temperatures was no option - the only way to stay alive was away from the slope. I’m not so sure they thought they would die if leaving in the state they were in. A hard time yes, with severe frostbites yes, but the only chance of survival. It is interesting what you say here, because the question is if it was survivable? I would say probably. This is why I think it is important to stress the bivouacs. As Yuri D and Yuri K seemed to have died first, there was no chance for them since they were exposed to winds while making the fire. But if we assume that the bivouac with the four lastly found of the group, had not collapsed (which I propose), then perhaps they would have made it during the night in order to retrieve their buried equipment in a less forceful weather. Likely not without life changing damages though.

    5 oktober 2019 12:18:10

  • Amber Powers • 4 oktober 2019 08:54:14
    I fully agree with your hypothesis. Finally, for the first time in a very long time, I feel confident in the exact events and no longer will I be searching for answers. Thanks so much for your time and effort. I'm personally forever grateful, as my life has been consumed for years trying to make the pieces of this puzzle fit. Always to end back at square one
    May the fearless Dyatlov hikers finally rest in peace
  • Many thanks for your words Amber! I’m glad for your comment - although sometimes I feel that I’m having a free ride on the group’s misery. However - me too, it is like you say – the life has been consumed for a long time, figuring things out. At least we need a well-deserved break before the next batch of theories. Thanks!

    4 oktober 2019 18:22:54

  • Christy Jenks • 2 oktober 2019 01:25:02
    A thoroughly enjoyable read. I have been interested in the Dyatlov Pass since listening to a podcast a few years back. Your experience and theory makes better sense than any I have read thus far. Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us.
  • So nice to hear that our experience and thoughts on the matter made sense to you! I try to be open minded, but as with you, I feel that this might be the case. A horrible experience indeed. Full of anxiety for the involved and far from helping hands. Thanks for your comment Christy!

    4 oktober 2019 23:04:03

  • Tony Bennett • 28 september 2019 21:11:29
    Wonderfully interesting Sir,and a great thing to do.
  • Anything Goes Many humble thanks!

    29 september 2019 04:47:24

  • sarah • 28 augusti 2019 17:51:31
    u stated that igor dyatlov was found hanging onto a brancn? this is totally unaccuratre, he was found in a way where it looked like he was trhing to crawl back to the tent
  • Best Sarah! Thank you so much for this input. You are right and I will immediately correct this. The reason for this misinterpretation stems from the original translation of the word “leaning”, written by me as “hanging” (onto a birch). This further confused me since Maslennikov in the context of the birch sapling mentioned that it looked as if Igor tried to protect himself from the wind – and Atmanaki saying that Igor was probably stuck there on the wind-swept snow. In any case I stand with the falling wind scenario, which is also supported by for example the witness above. Many thanks!!

    28 augusti 2019 19:23:27

  • Annonymous • 19 juli 2019 06:33:56
    I have a question about your 2019 expedition to the Dyatlov Pass. What was your contingency plan in the case of a katabatic wind? Did you sleep in full clothing and boots? Did you have additional gear stashed down at the forest line? Thanks.
  • Thanks for you question! Actually there was no elaborate plan, except for keeping the woods in mind and to have all gear reachable beside and inside each sleeping bag. The tent was also pitched with the gable against the gradient and the wind. The sleeping bags could withstand minus 40 degrees Celsius and this in combination with our emergency bags and shelter in the forest, was at least something. We slept in underclothing of wool, with dry spare jackets. In all - this plan was probably insufficient but we hoped that any katabatic scenario or similar explosive event was kind enough not to repeat itself this particular night. That would have been a blow. It’s like driving a car on icy roads, you can’t just keep thinking of covering all possible causes and outcomes. Generally we don’t - even though we are well aware of the many accidents that occur. The latter is far more dangerous, I gather.

    19 juli 2019 08:55:46

  • Robin • 8 juni 2019 15:33:12
    One question - if the wind is that strong (25m/s or more) why were the skis still upright & the stakes (?) at each end of the tent still upright as well?
    I think your explanation is the best I’ve read, but having seen the results of tornados I would think that at least the skis would have been blown down / displaced.
  • Hi Robin! Thanks for your observation and the relevant question. Yes indeed, the skis were found sticking up in the snow and this have also been an indication that it couldn’t have been an avalanche or a snow slide. So, in one way it is in support of a gravity wind – the question would only be – would they stand the strong wind? Well, if a falling wind did occur from the west, as the snow pattern indicates (if the pattern is post pitching), then the skies must have made it. A tornado usually affects objects from many angles, whereas a falling wind is one direction only. The position of the skies furthermore suggest that they were anchored sideways to the wind - thus only facing the wind with some millimetres. If you ask me, I think the skis would have persisted – and well so compared to the vulnerable canvas. My own experience from such scenario in the mountains, is that when you leave the skis standing outside a house in the snow during strong winds – things are usually thrown around, while the skis remain unaffected. But, I would also argue that we don’t have enough data on this. It wouldn’t surprise me if the skis were raised a bit during the time of discovery – or in fact, that a falling wind never occurred. But, I would say – the skies would have made it just fine.

    8 juni 2019 18:50:29

  • Alain Valade • 4 maj 2019 01:55:36
    I also wrote on HOREUR QUÉBEC website about DYATLOV = 5 e-mails . Read the last one over all because speaks very strongly on this case-problem .
  • Ok thanks, will read it...

    4 maj 2019 22:14:19

  • Su Yen • 19 april 2019 23:04:03
    Thank you for sharing your brave experiences and for such an insightful and respectful piece written in memory of the 9 lost souls. I personally have always wondered why there were huge deliberate clumps of snow on top of the tent that wasn't in sync with the rest of the snowy landscape. The sad irony is that the hikers didn't cut the tent for escape from an unknown threat but rather to save it from the deadly winds. Your theory is the most reasonable that I have read. I hope you don't mind that I have shared your piece with the FB group Dyatlov Pass Incident.
  • Su Yen, thank you for your words about our expedition. Good that the outline made sense for you. The snow on the tent might indeed explain the development during the night - but we shall see what more will be said. Many details are still today being discovered.

    28 april 2019 11:50:12

  • Angeline Vere • 19 april 2019 22:59:22
    This makes the most sense out of everything I have read. Thank you.
  • Thanks for your comment Angeline! Yes, it sounds plausible for me as well

    28 april 2019 11:44:32

  • Alain Valade • 26 mars 2019 01:01:05
    I sent to the site MOENJO ( French site ) what I consider to be the answer . On this site go to Dyatlov case .
  • Lars Karvonen • 7 mars 2019 11:41:15
    Hi!
    A more modern but similiar history happend in Sylarna -94. Three young norwegion died when tenting on high altitude in high wind. One died in tent, one between the Sylarna station and the tent and one close to the Station. All where frozen to death.
    https://www.utsidan.se/forum/showthread.php?t=51839
    //Lars
  • Thank you so much Lars, for your comment and interesting link. Yet a good foundation for a scenario from 1994. Not least, does it show the hopelessness of staying in the tent during strong winds, but also a picture of what Kolmogorova, Igor and Slobodin went through, also in vain. Thanks again Lars!

    7 mars 2019 12:21:35

  • Shawn Hollis • 22 februari 2019 21:26:45
    I really like your theory as it is probably the best one yet. However, I still have a hard time with them leaving the sheltered tent unless they were physically blown out but that is impossible. I thing they would stay in the tent to keep it weighted down and keep from blowing away. One would think they could stay in the tent but take down the the skis holding tent up in order to prevent flapping. All 9 could of grabbed loose ceiling fabric and held on. All would be protected from elements and not blown away. I wonder if your wind theory happens and the noise of the wind made it sound like a avalanche coming down mountain above so they frantically escape and threw a flash light so they could come back if tent was not buried. Except the flash light was not visible so they mistaking thought the avalanche buried the tent. Therefor they thought they had no choice but find shelter in the woods. They might not all have agreed if there was really an avalanche or what to do right after fleeing the tent in a panic.
    Then multiple chain of events happen thereafter. I have been lost on a hunting trip and was not prepared for the weather and I know how things can go terribly wrong!
  • Best Shawn! Thanks for your reaction to the theory and your insightful comment on the event. I will try to answer your reflections in the best way I can in line with my experience of such event - although a less foreceful one. Your concern to the theory was that it wouldn't be possible to be blown out of the tent. I agree with that. However, it is important to remember that we are not talking about any wind in this situation. A gravity wind is very powerful and happens rather instantly. Let alone that the group must already have known about their tents weakness in the case of a powerful wind. Imagine the following. The tent starts to shake in an insane way - you break out quickly to save the situation by throwing snow atop. While doing this you are constantly hit by the katabatic wind battering you wit speeds up to perhaps 25 m/s. During this event you are already severely cooled down. To crawl back inside the snow covered tent, already affected by such situation, would be rather difficult - let alone for nine people. The best thing would be to get quickly further down to safety. Remember that the cooling effect would still have hit them inside the tent with such forceful wind from above. Digging a shelter and making a fire in the forest would be a much better option. Even I myself would consider this. These type of winds do not only cause a flapping of the canvas - it grabs anything elevated above ground. Furthermore it would be very hard to stay inside the tent during such chaos and at the same time keep warm. The night temperature would have been around -35 degrees Celsius and with a very strong falling wind it would be tremendously cold. Thus, you would in no way be protected behind a canvas if staying on the slope. Regarding the avalanche - Im sure they know such thing was never a danger. They were very professional and knew that this would never present a danger on the slope of Kholat. If this was the case they would have pitched the tent elsewhere. To receive a grade 3 in extreme skiing wouldn't simple be worth it. A falling wind though, is rather hard to predict even for experienced hikers. Yes, even for pilots. They do however occur, albeit seldom. Even for us staying on the slope three weeks ago pose a danger - but we took the chance. When katabatic winds do fall out, hell breakes loose - as in in the case of Anaris in Sweden, with devastating results. The latter couldn't even keep a snow shelter in place. I respect your thoughts greatly, but a gravity wind is very powerful. It would make it hard to stand - but sticking together, walking slowly bent over, you have a better chance in the forest even though you would lose your extremities. This was a case of survival at any costs. But, if the situation didn't involve a katabatic wind, then I'm really withou answers.

    23 februari 2019 02:03:48