originally posted by: Arbitrageur
A small avalanche does seem to be supported by the photographic evidence.
avalanche damage is considered one of the more plausible explanations for this incident....
Despite claims that the area is not prone to avalanches, slab avalanches do typically occur in new snow and where people are disrupting the
snowpack. On the night of the incident, snow was falling, the campsite was situated on a slope, and the campers were disrupting the stability of
the snowpack. The tent was also halfway torn down and partially covered with snow – all of which could support the theory of a small avalanche
pushing snow into the tent.
Actually - No. The photo doesn't support a snow slide at all. The Russians considered a mini-snow slide and rejected it. First, the slope is not
conducive to avalanche and, second, the tent site is deliberately dug out such that the roof line of the tent is even with the top of the snow. This
is not only to level the tent but to create an insulation barrier. So the snow you see in the picture is virtually exactly the height it should be
at the time of the photo
However, when the tent was abandoned there was actually almost a foot more snow than shown here and it collected in about a 4 hour period. That's a
lot of snow. Did it fall from the sky or slide down the hill? Three experts were asked about it. Two said the tent meant all requirements and there
was nothing that happened around the tent, citing the tent stretching as evidence. And the photos of the campers setting up the tent show they are in
a snow blizzard to account for the foot of snow.
The third expert disagreed with the other two. He argued there was a disturbance on the uphill side of the tent to it's stretching (tent stakes).
Since the photo above shows no such disturbance he has to be referring to the uphill grommet supports which don't appear in the picture. On the
uphill side, ski poles driven into the snow upside down would have performed as grommet poles (Skis would have had to be used on the downhill side in
order to be tall enough.).
The third expert was actually Igor Dyatlov's personal adviser for planning the trip and the Communist Party was looking for someone to blame. He
was one of four persons to be fired for having granted Igor permission for a "Level 3" hike when they were "Level 2" campers. So the third expert
had good reason to try and shift the blame from himself.
But political influence goes both ways. The two experts who cleared Igor Dyatlov of any wrong doing in siting the tent were both personal friends
of Igor Dyatlov
. So when the Communist Party called in witnesses to the tent site, they never once called an impartial witness
One of the three had to be wrong. Dyatlov's adviser was ruled wrong. And he was ruled wrong by his own evidence.
He stated that it was the
collapse of the uphill stretch (grommet) pole that allowed snow to enter the tent through the cuts, which is tantamount to saying the disturbance took
place after the tent had already been cut and abandoned.
This was probably not the best argument to make. And he paid the price.
So the other two won and the "mini-avalanche" argument dismissed.
Was it correctly dismissed?
In regards to the third expert's opinion, he had to be absolutely wrong. There is no possibility of the uphill grommet support being disturbed
without ALL OF THEM being disturbed. His argument was dismissed twice over.
So now we have the political side of the argument. Dyatlov's friends argued "no mistake" and the guy defending himself from getting fired argued
nature overruled and presented a flimsy supporting argument. And so the argument of a mini snow slide was dismissed.
But there is still an extra foot of snow out there. It could have arrived over four hours (possible but not likely) or it arrived all at once (snow
If it arrived all at once, the campers were still awake. They would have heard a "swoosh" and then seen the uphill side of the ten roof indent with
snow to the height of nearly a foot.
And that would be it. That's it. The show would be over. Nothing would happen at all on the downhill side of the tent. And it would be just as
obvious that nothing happened to the downhill side of the tent as it was obvious that something happened to the uphill side.
And, again, as soon as it happened, it was over.
So do nine people all start screaming inside the tent at this point and cut their way the downhill side of the tent and run off without their shoes or
parkas, or do they open the front of the tent and say "Hey! Look! There's a foot of snow outside!"
And then just simply go out and brush it off because there's virtually zero chance of it repeating.
And, even if the third expert was right (unlikely though that is) and they had lost their uphill grommet pole, the only thing that would happen was
the middle of the tent roof would sag down about 6 inches. Does that justify panic?
Raise your hand if you're cutting your way out if you were there.
But the investigation is ONE SIDED. It was looking to place BLAME. If these campers couldn't tie a knot and a foot of snow came down the hill and
all their knots came undone with the weight of the snow, then the entire tent would collapse and look just like it does in the picture above except
with a foot more snow.
Now you can have panic in the tent.
Nowhere in the above picture is there a tied, tight rope to be found. And NOBODY was going to point this out. If Dyatlov's party could not tie a
proper knot then blame would go on Dyatlov and, by extension, those who improperly trained Dyatlov which was everyone.
So one tent expert could get fired or all three. Can you see the politics?
So which happened becomes a matter of personal preference. If you believe none of the the people who put that tent up knew how to tie a knot, you
have your solution. And studies taken afterwards do show that "Level 2" campers were being incorrectly trained (But we don't know how they were
being incorrectly trained.).
But, if you believe these campers could at least tie their own shoelaces without help, then you realize this is not a solution.
My personal opinion (Which is worth nothing) is that Igor did have some improper training (As subsequent studies showed) but the possibility that
everybody's knots came undone at the same time
are far less than the odds that it snowed nearly a foot in four hours.