Final Search Operation

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Final search operation: the discovery of the bodies of Lyudmila Dubinina, Semen Zolotarev, Alexander Kolevatov and Nikolai Thibault Brignol.


Throughout April 1959, the search group in the area of ​​Kholatchahl continued to check the snow cover gradually decreasing in the forests of the Lozva Valley and along the banks of its tributaries. Along the Lozva, the search engines surveyed more than 1 km. The search was unsuccessful. The only conclusion seemed to be that the only conclusion in this situation was that the members of the tourist group had not left the area of ​​Holat-Sahyl and during that time, while they were able to remain active, left several kilometers. This assumption was indirectly confirmed by the consideration that missing tourists were to be dressed much better than those who had already been found (this idea was based on an approximate calculation of the wardrobe of the group and its distribution among the participants in the campaign, because all the clothes of the deceased and the things found in the tent , have been accurately described and taken into account!). However, none of the search engines could say anything about which direction the absent could go. Logical was their movement left to the storage, but the storage remained untouched!


rescuers comb the slope with avalanche probes


It is difficult to say in which direction the search operation would develop further if strange discoveries did not begin in early May. In the area of ​​the cedar, near which the dead Krivonischenko and Doroshenko were found, from the melting snow began to act broken off spruce branches, previously hidden from the eyes of search engines. These branches were not located chaotically, but seemed to form a kind of path in the south-west direction. It looked as if several young Christmas trees had been dragged along that direction, cut down at the cedar. The same small spruce branches began to protrude from under the snow and near a ravine fifty meters from the cedar, where the peaks of young spruce trees were also cut off. Perhaps this discovery would not have attracted much attention to the search engines, but on the morning of May 5, one of the Mansi hunter-conductors (named Kurikov), who was inspecting this "spruce path" together with the dog, found at its very end, at the ravine, frozen in the snow ... black cotton sports pants. More correctly, a fragment of those, strongly burned and devoid of the right leg. On closer examination it turned out that she had been roughly cut off with a knife.
   The found thing was under a layer of snow about 10 cm thick. When in the immediate vicinity of the site the search engines began to scrutinize the snowdrifts, they were lucky to find another piece of clothing - the left half of the women's light brown wool sweater. The sweater, like the sports pants, was roughly cut in half, its right half (along with the sleeve) was missing. According to the general opinion of the searchers, the sweater was to belong to Lyudmila Dubinina.


Left: ravine to the south-west of the cedar. Right: cut pieces found by Mansi Kurikov next to the ravine on the morning of May 5, 1959.


It was logical to assume that the items found indicate a possible presence of nearby bodies that have not yet been found. However, in the forest there was already too little snow and its cover could not hide the corpses. The only place nearby, capable of covering the bodies of the dead from the eyes of the search engines, was a ravine that was south-west of the cedar. He was already probed with avalanche probes in early March, but perhaps their length was insufficient?
   Colonel Ortyukov decided to begin excavation of the snow in the ravine in the immediate vicinity of the place where the fir tree was cut. The selected site was about 10 m from the place where Mansi Kurikov found burned sports pants. The search engines started work at about 11 am on May 5, the total excavation area was about 20 sq.m.

As the depths deepened, the snow grew stronger. As it turned out, a rather stormy stream of meltwater flowed along the very bottom of the ravine. It was in this stream, under a snow layer about four meters, at 18:40, that a human body was found in a gray sweater. As it turned out later, it was the body of Lyudmila Dubinina.


Lyudmila Dubinina


Ortyukov immediately reported on the discovery to the headquarters of the search operation, at the same time mentioning the difficult working conditions and asking him to send 6 engineer-sapper shovels, 2 kayla and soldiers stronger.
 Continuing to excavate the thickness of snow in the ravine, the search engines found three other missing tourists from the first corpse of the body - Zolotarev, Kolevatov and Thibault Brignol.


At the very bottom of the ravine at a depth of about 4 m were found the bodies of Lyudmila Dubinina, Semen Zolotarev, Alexander Kolevatov and Nikolai Thibault Brignol. The bodies were not far apart from each other no more than 1 m. It seemed logical therefore that all four for some reason found themselves in the same snow pit, where they were overtaken by death.


In the same ravine, a little further away, a floor was found, made of cut young trees of small thickness. For its construction, 14 fir and 1 birch were used, the total floor area was determined by Ortyukov in 3 sq.m. The flooring was in the thickness of the snow at a depth of about 2.5 m, ie, much lower than the level of the forest adjacent to the ravine, but not at the very bottom.


The floor was found in a ravine at a depth of about 2.5 m. A stream of melt water flowed under it in the thickness of the snow.


Deck in the ravine. You can see the things packed in its corners of tourists, which they somehow did not have time to put on.


On the floor were found some things, in particular, a woolen sweater-sleeveless jacket, warm knitted pants with a sash (belt and bottom on torn elastic bands), the right pant leg of black sports pants found at the ravine on the morning of May 5 by Kurikov. Well, and besides that - a woolen brown sweater and ... a soldier's winding of greatcoat with a brown braid on the end. The discovery of the last detail of the clothes confused Ortyukov to such an extent that he even informed the operation headquarters of this in his radiogram ("(...) the appearance of the winding is incomprehensible to me"), which I usually did not do before.


The windings of the servicemen are emerging for the second time in this matter. The first time, we recall, a certain winding of unidentified belongings was found among the belongings of the members of the group at the Ivdel airport in early March 1959. Then prosecutor-criminalist Ivanov together with Yury Yudin compiled an inventory of the property delivered from the pass and distributed things by ownership. The mysterious winding did not get into the materials of the case and we know about it only from the memoirs of Yudin. There can be no doubt that the second winding would also have disappeared in obscurity, had the fact of its detection on the floor not been recorded in Ortyukov's radiogram.

So, at last the bodies of all the members of Igor Dyatlov's group were discovered. Now all the inconsistencies and ambiguities - at least theoretically! - had to get a logical and irrefutable explanation. However, even a superficial analysis of the finds in the ravine (and near it) not only failed to clarify the picture of what happened on the slope of Holat-Sahyl, but on the contrary, introduced new uncertainties. Let's look at the situation in the ravine as a charade and try to answer the question: "what's wrong here?"
   First of all, there is no doubt that four tourists, whose bodies were found at the bottom of the ravine, were at the cedar. Part of the young fir grove that went to the construction of the flooring was cut there. A few more trees were cut by them already near the ravine, just ten meters from the edge. The departure from the cedar to the ravine was logical, for it was precisely in the deep snow that the most dangerous factor, the wind, which was dangerous for the freezing person, could be eliminated. But why in that case there were only four in the ravine? why they were not joined by Doroshenko and Krivonischenko?
   Dubinin, Zolotarev, Kolevatov and Thibault Brignol made the flooring in the thick snow in the ravine to protect them from the wind and improve the thermal insulation from snow. If they really suffered from the cold and died due to freezing, it would be logical to find the bodies of the victims directly on the floor. However, the search engines saw another picture - all the bodies were out of the floor, and at a distance, excluding the spontaneous movement over time (sliding, rolling, plunging into the snow). According to various estimates, the remoteness of the bodies of the deceased from the floor built by them was 6-10 meters. Why did the dead people leave it, because they spent a lot of effort on harvesting branches for it?
   Further, the manipulations of people found in the ravine with things were completely incomprehensible. The fact that the deceased before the other Doroshenko and Krivonischenko were stripped off by their comrades, the search engines assumed at the very beginning of the search. By itself, the sight of the bodies found near the fire under the cedar of the bodies eloquently testified to the apparent shortage of clothing. Now removed and partially cut out details of outer clothing were found, but for some reason they were on the road to flooring and on the floor itself, but not on people who took off their clothes from the corpses. Why obviously tourists who needed warming did not dress right at the fire? After all, the fact that they needed additional clothing is beyond question - their need for this was so great that they decided to undress the bodies of the recently deceased comrades. This unpleasant procedure required them to maximize the mobilization of will and determination to live. And what turns out: having taken hold of precious pants and sweaters, they somehow began to carry them away from the fire, losing along the way and slowly putting on, being on the floor (here, by the way, we need to make the necessary explanation: the clothes were cut not by thoughtlessness or error, and for the purpose of more convenient use in the future.The fact is that the sleeve or trouser leg of a knitted product can serve as a good substitute for missing gloves or a headdress.They can be tied at one end and pulled over your head or arm, or you can do it, do not zavaz This is one of the most effective methods of self-rescue in the cold, sometimes resorted to by mountaineers, tourists, and military special forces, too, ie, people forced to fight the cold and the wind at a professional, say, level. of the remaining woodpeckers in the ravine tried to warm this way, clearly shows his complete self-control and adequate behavior).
   But even this was not the main oddity of the findings found in the ravine. The most unusual thing was the location of the flooring. Recall that the cedar, near which the bodies of Yuri Doroshenko and Georgy Krivonischenko were found, stood above the fourth tributary of Lozva at a distance of 70-80 m from the forest border on a small hill. It was not a hill or a hill, but the excess over the valley was distinct and very steep - about 5-7 meters, according to the memoirs of the search operation participants, there was no way to approach the cedar from the bottom, we had to go "ladder". The ravine, in which there was a flooring of spruce tops, was located west of the cedar and had a clear direction from south to north. The shortest distance between the cedar and the ravine did not exceed 25 m. And the distance from the cedar to the decking made of branches was approximately 75 m. If we recall the mutual arrangement of the tent abandoned by tourists on the slope of Kholat-Sahyl and cedar, we will have to state a very unexpected postulate: Zolotaryov , Kolevatov, Thibault Brignol and Dubinin, after spending some time under the tree, moved in the opposite direction. Yes-yes, they actually went to the side of the tent, from which they had just fled. True, unlike Igor Dyatlov and Zina Kolmogorova, they were not going to return to the slope, they were just looking for a convenient shelter from the wind. But for this they went to the south-west.


This scheme demonstrates the relative location of the main objects in the "cedar-ravine" area. Legend: 1 - cedar, 2 - the location of detection of cut pants and sweaters on the edge of the ravine, 3 - pit in the ravine, in which the bodies of four missing tourists were found, 4 - decking of branches. Red arrow "R" shows the direction of the tent left on the slope of the Holat-Syahyl. Distances: R1 is the distance from the cedar to the forest boundary, R2 is the shortest distance from the cedar to the ravine, R3 is the distance from the cedar to the location of the cut trousers and sweater, and R4 is from the place. where the cut things were thrown to the place where the corpses of the dead tourists were found, R5 - the distance between the flooring and the whereabouts of the bodies of the deceased, R6 - the distance from the cedar to the flooring. The blue dashed lines conditionally show the places of billet harvesting for the flooring in the cedar area and directly at the ravine.


Why there? Before answering this question, it should be specially emphasized that tourists who are dead in the ravine should be objectively recognized as absolutely adequate and rational by people, keeping their common sense to the last moments of life - the logic of their actions convinces us of this. We will prove this message below and show the motivation of the members of this small group, for the time being we will simply note that no crazy or less meaningful throwing through the forest, chaotic actions and mutual misunderstanding between them in the last hours of life was not. Dubinin, Zolotarev, Kolevatov and Thibault Brignol together looked for a way out of an almost desperate situation and acted in concert. Exactly! But why did they go to the southwest? And not to the north-east, north or east, because moving in those directions, they would move away from the source of danger that drove them from the slope!
   There can be several reasons. The most obvious is that, moving backwards, people have set the wind to their backs. In other words, it was more comfortable for them to look for the necessary shelter in the darkness in that direction. After parting with Krivonischenko and Doroshenko at the cedar, they were left to themselves and the movement in the south-west direction was optimal from the point of view of ergonomics, i.e., minimizing the expenditure of forces and energy. By the time (after the descent from the mountain) we had to think seriously about the economy of forces - there was a night ahead and the symptoms of future frostbite were already felt by everyone.
   Immediately make a reservation that the true direction of the wind that night in the area of ​​the cedar is now unknown to anyone. There is information (from tourists who visited there), according to which, strong winds are observed in the area of ​​the Djatlov Pass in the direction of "west-east", ie, through the Ural mountains towards Siberia. However, powerful "drafts" from the Arctic Ocean are also frequent - they determine the harsh climate of Western Siberia. But for us now it is important another: no matter what the wind that evening (east, north or north-east), four tourists, moving away from the cedar, turned their backs on the wind. This assumption is now impossible to either prove or disprove, but it looks highly logical. After all, our four did not just go to seek shelter from the wind - she still dragged a few cut Christmas trees with her. What-no, and this was a certain physical load, which any reasonable person would try to minimize in the situation that developed on February 1, 1959.
   If we consider that the above version of the direction of the wind is quite robust and has the full right to exist, then from it we can get a highly unexpected and very important consequence for understanding the happened. Namely: descending from the tent to the cedar, Igor Dyatlov's group kept moving against the wind all the time. People undertook a very dangerous in the dark time of day descent from the mountain in a completely non-optimal direction! More precisely, of all the possible directions in that situation, they chose the most unfortunate - they went down against the wind ... And they decided on this without headgear, shoes and gloves!
   It would seem, turn in the other direction and go to the storage. And the wind will blow in the back, and in the lab quickly find shoes, wood and biscuits. So is not present! The Dyatlovites did not go to the store, they went against the wind into the unknown. And in the end we stopped near the cedar.

Again, the question "why?" Is relevant. Why did this happen? The answer can only be one - the danger that threatened them was not above the tent on the slope, it was from the south, from the side of the storage. In fact, what drove the "dyatlovists" out of the tent, blocked them from retiring to the store, the very fact of their presence did not provide an opportunity to return. In other words, the danger threatening them did not at all flatten the tent, did not trample it, did not iron it, and did not roll around it with a billiard ball. The threat that appeared near the tent blocked the departure to the south and at the same time looked serious enough so that none of the nine tourists tried to neglect it.
   So that…
   The conclusion is fundamental and, in principle, on the factual material described by us, it is clearly premature. The author understands that the most ingenuous and naive readers in this place will hurry to laugh and even turn a finger at his temple. Have enough patience, dear comrades, and in due time we will approach the same conclusion completely from the other side.
   By the way, completing the long drawn-out monologue about the strangeness of the location of the floor, it should be noted this nuance. Many researchers of the tragedy of 1959 drew attention to the "strange illogicality" of its location south-west of the cedar. The movement of the four members of the group in the direction opposite to the original seemed to many to be absurd and devoid of any meaning. It even went so far that some participants in online discussions seriously questioned "Did Ortyukov wrong with the definition of the sides of the world?" And tried to prove that the true position of the flooring does not correspond at all to the south-west direction from the cedar, but to the southeast. Frankly speaking, a rather sly assumption, devoid of all grounds; Of course, Ortyukov was not mistaken in determining the sides of the world, and the radio operator Nevolin, who participated in all the works of cedar and in the ravine (there are his photographs taken during the excavation of the flooring), would draw attention to the erroneousness of the text transmitted to him. It is not necessary to puzzle over a non-existent problem - four tourists were really equipped with a shelter in the ravine to the south-west of the cedar. And they acted at the same time in the highest degree logical, sensible and in all senses justified.


Extraction of bodies of their creek in a ravine. In the photo, a man in a knitted cap - the radio operator Nevolin, next to him, on the right is Ortyukov.


Let us return, however, to the plot of the narrative. The bodies of the four dead tourists found in the ravine were completely frozen, but their removal from the snow depth threatened the rapid defrosting and the beginning of rotting of the flesh.


Semen Zolotarev and Alexander Kolevatov.


Lyudmila Dubinina and Nikolai Thibaut. The photos were taken before the bodies were placed in tarpaulin bags and sent to a forensic medical examination.


In order to delay this process Colonel Ortyukov ordered the body to be lined with spruce lapnik and sewed in tarpaulin, which was done, but there was an almost insoluble problem: helicopter pilots who served the search group refused to evacuate bodies to Ivdel, where they were supposed to be anatomized. Motivated their refusal pilots simply and impenetrable - there are rules for transporting corpses, so let's stick to them! The pilots wanted the dead bodies to be placed in zinc coffins. You can understand the indignation of Colonel Ortyukov - in February, the same helicopter pilots without unnecessary word-for-word carried the bodies of tourists by simply packing them on the tarpaulin in the cargo hold. The pilots, however, did not retreat. It came to a scandal, Ortyukov even complained about the rebellious helicopter pilots to the headquarters of the search operation. In the end, zinc coffins were ordered and delivered ...
   The story of zinc coffins and stubborn helicopter drivers is mentioned here not accidentally. Remember it, because it feeds one of the most enduring myths associated with the tourists who died in 1959. At one time we still have to remember both the principle helicopter pilots and the unexpected demand to place the bodies found in the ravine in zinc coffins.