- CASE FILES
We're on the road again! We are now sitting in room 531, or rather of course not sitting but frantically shoving into backpacks oatmeal, cans, canned meat. The head of provision distribution (zavhoz) is overseeing that everybody gets everything.
Where are my felt boots? Y. K. (Yuri Krivonischenko) Can we play mandolin on the train?
Of course! We forgot the salt! 3kg
Igor! Where are you? Where is Doroshenko? Why didn't he take 20 packs? Give me 15 kopecks (cents) to call. The scales, where are the scales? It doens't fit, dam it. Who has the knife?
Yuri take this to the station.
Slav Halizov just got here.
Hello, hello! Can I get 15 kopeks?
Lyuda is counting the money, lots of money. The room is an artistic mess.
And here we are on the train. We sang all the songs that we know, learned new ones, everyone goes to sleep at 3 (am). I wonder what awaits us in this trip? What will we encounter? The boys solemnly swore not to smoke the entire trip. I wonder how much will power they have to get by without cigarettes? Everybody is falling asleep, and behind the window Ural taiga is spread in all directions.
7.00 (am) We arrived in Serov (town). We traveled with Blinov group. They have... things for hunting and other accessories. At the station we were met with hell of a hospitality. They didn't allow us into the building. The policeman stares at us suspiciously. There is no crime or vandalism in the city, as it suppose to be in times of communism. And then Yuri Krivo started a song, the cops grabbed him and took him away.
At the attention of citizen Krivonischenko, sergeant explained that the rules of §3 prohibited all activity that would disturb the peace of passengers. It is perhaps the only train station where the songs are forbidden, so we stayed without singing.
Finally everything is settled by end fo the day. We are leaving Serov to Ivdel at 6:30 pm. We were welcomed warmly in the school near the railway station. The steward (she is also a janitor) boiled some water, and helped us with everything we needed for the preparation for the trek.
We have the whole day free. We want to go to the city, to visit the nature museum or take a trip to a factory, but too much time is passed in distribution of equipment and cleaning it.
12.00 In the interval between 1st and 2nd shifts in school we organized meeting with pupils. The room crammed with so many curious children.
Zolotaryov: "Kids, I will tell you now... Tourism is, enables you to..." Everyone is still, quiet, engaged.
Z. Kolmogorova: Tra- ta- ta- ta, what's your name, you went where, awesome, you have been camping, she went on and on...
Questions didn't end. We had to explain and show to every kid everything, from torches to tents. It took us 2 hours, and kids didn't want to let us go. They sang songs to each other. The whole school saw us at the station. Everything ended as expected, when we were leaving, the kids yelled and cried, asking Zina to stay with them. They promised to behave and study well.
In the train cart a young drunk accused us of stealing his booze from his pocket. For the second time this day the cops were involved.
Discussion about love provoked by Z. Kolmogorova. Songs, tickets check, Dubinina under the seats (ed. note - this is confirmed by the number of train tickets found in Dyatlov's field bag with group's papers - 9, not 10), garlic with bread and no water, and we arrived in Ivdel around 12am.
Large waiting room. Total freedom of action. We took shifts to watch over our stuff all night long. Bus to Vizhay leaves early in the morning.
25 january 1959.
We got up at half past five, quickly gathered and left for the city of Ivdel with the first bus. After an hour of waiting, we managed to grab a bus (such as GAZ-51). The twenty-five-seater bus was forced to accommodate a full twenty-five plus twenty backpacks packed to capacity and as many pairs of skis. We were full up to the ceiling. First layer passengers sat on the seats, on a pile of skis, on backpacks. Second layer passengers sat on the backs of the seats, finding a place for legs on the shoulders of comrades. It was not so tight, however, as not to sing, so we did it almost all the way to Vizhay.
The trip was not uneventful. The bus made a small detour away from the highway, in the village of Shipichnoe, and we were given the chance to step out, which we did with pleasure. Four of the most agile went far ahead to the settlement of Talitsa to see the power station. Suddenly the heard: "The bus." We rush out the door, but, alas, it was too late. The bus passed by and we were forced to chance after it as fast as we can, hoping fate would be merciful and, perhaps, we would catch up with it (I am part of the "agile" four). However, the first hundred meters clearly demonstrated the advantages of a fifty horse power engine. Our heels flashed far behind the bus, and the gap widened. The prospect to walk about thirty kilometers on the highway with no breakfast and lunch already seemed quite real, when suddenly ... I mentioned that fate is merciful. The mercy came in the form of a girl going to Vizhay that hailed the bus and stopped the object of our persecution. A minute later we were already safely sitting on the second floor of the seats and traveling to Vizhay. We arrived in Vizhay about two pm. It turned out that we can continue our automobile journey in the next morning.
Warmly said goodbye to Blinov's group, who went further (to the west of Vizhay in the deep forest area). After dinner, which was held in a warm "friendly atmosphere," we moved to the "hotel", which was the usual hut with three windows. We went to the cinema, leaving "home" Doroshenko and Kolevatov. We watched the "Symphonie in Gold", came back in "musical mood". Now we are busy getting ready the equipment. Tonight, according to the local commandant, we will leave on.
We slept in so-called hotel. Two people per bed. Sasha K. (Aleksander Kolevatov) and Krivo (Yuri Krivonischenko) slept on the floor between beds. Woke up at 9 am. Everyone sleep well despite the fact we did not completely close the small window and room got a bit cold.
Outside temperature is -17 C.
We did not boil water in the morning, wood was damp. In the evening it took us 6 hours to boil the water. Had breakfast in the dining room, goulash and tea.
When they handed us the lukewarm tea, Gosya (Igor) Dyatlov said with a smirk: "If the tea is cold, then go drink it outside, it will be hot." Original thought. We negotiated to go to Settlement 41 by a truck.
We started at 13.10, and arrived at 16.30. We froze pretty good at the back of GAZ-63.
While traveling we sang songs, discussed various topics like love, friendship, cancer illness and cures.
In Settlement 41 we were greeted warmly, they gave us a separate room in the hostel. We talked a lot with the local workers. I remembered particularly the red- bearded man. The Beard, that's what his friends call him.
Ognev is an old friend, he is described in Lyuda Dubinina's private diary.
Lunch was served, we ate and now we are resting. Some of the group is watching a movie in the adjacent room. The rest of the group is rummaging through their backpacks. Rustik (Rustem Slobodin) is playing his mandolin, while talking with Kolya (Nick Thibault). I am going to do some adjustment to the equipment.
I can't, although I tried.
The weather’s really good. The wind is at our backs, and the lads made a deal with the locals for a horse to drive us to Second North settlement.
But it will be about 24 km from the 41st Settlement. We helped Uncle Slava unload hay from a carriage and waited for the horse (it went to get more hay and wood). We waited until 4:00 PM.
The boys started copying some songs. One man sang beautifully. We heard a number of illegal prison songs (Article 58 counter-revolutionary crimes).
Before that we bought four loaves of bread. Soft warm bread. We ate 2 loaves.
Horse is slow. What a pleasure to go without backpacks.
We covered 8 km in 2 hours. (River Ushma).
It's getting dark. The horse is causing the delay. Yuri Yudin is still with us. He suddenly fell ill and he can't continue with the trek. He wants to gather few minerals for the University and return.
Second North is an abandoned geological site consisting of 20-25 houses. Only one is suitable for living. In complete darkness we found a village and the house. We started a fire with wood boards. Smoke came form the stove. Several people hurt their hands on old nails. Everything is well. Then the horse came. We were talking and joking till 3 in the morning.
We were awaken by the rumbling voices of Yurka Kri and Sasha Kolevatov. Weather so far is smiling at us. It's only -8C outside.
After breakfast, some of the guys lead by Yuri Yudin, our well- known geologist, went to look for local minerals. They didn't find anything except pyrite and quartz veins in the rock. Took them long time to wax their skis and adjust the mounting. Yuri Yudin goes back home today. It is a pity, of course, that he leaves us. Especially for me and Zina, but nothing can be done about it.
Started at 11.45. We go up the river Lozva. We take turns to head the group for about 10 minutes. Snow cover is significantly less than last year. We have to stop and scrape the wet, melting snow from the bottom of the skis. Yurka Kri is behind and makes topos of the route. The bank of the river near Second North (especially the right bank) are limestone cliffs that rise high at places. Overall the terrain becomes flatter, entirely covered by forest.
We stop to rest at 5:30 pm on river Lozva. Today we spend our first night in the tent. The guys are busy with the stove, sewing curtains out of sheets. With some thing completed and others not, we sit at dinner. After dinner we sit for long time around the campfire and sing heartfelt songs. Zina even tries to learn to play mandolin under guidance of our musician Rustik (Rustem Slobodin). Then we resume our discussions, mostly about love. Someone comes up with an idea that we need a special notebook for ideas that we might come up with. Conspiring, we started going into the tent two people at a time. The suspended stove radiates heat and divides the tent in two sections. The further section is occupied by me and Zina. Nobody wants to sleep by the stove. We agree that Yurka Kri (Krivonischenko) will sleep there. On the other side sleeps the person on duty (Sasha Kolevatov). Yurka couldn't stand the heat and after laying down for 1-2 min, he got up and moved to the second section cursing and accusing us of treason. After that they still argued about something for a long time, but at the end all was quiet.
Second day of our hike. We made our way from the Lozva river to the Auspiya river. We walked along a Mansi trail. The weather is –13C. The wind is weak. We often find ice on the Lozva river. That's all.
P.S. Witless writing in two days!
30 January 1959
Diary is written in the cold on the go.
Today is a third cold night on the bank of Auspiya river. We are getting used to it. The stove does a great job. Some of us (Thibeaux and Krivonischenko) think we need to build steam heat in the ten. The curtains in the tent are quite justified. We get up at 8:30am. After breakfast we walk along the Auspiya river, but the ice again doesn't allow us to move forward. We went on the bank on a sledge-deer trail. In the middle of the road the saw Mansi shed. Yes, Mansi, Mansi, Mansi. This word comes up more and more often in our conversations. Mansi are people of the North. Small Hanti-Mansijskiy nation located in Salehard with 8 thousand population. Very interesting and unique people that inhabit the North Polar Urals, close to the Tyumen region. They have a written language, and leave characteristic signs on forest trees.
Weather: temperature in the morning - 17 С
day - 13 С
night - 26 С.
The wind is strong, south-west, snow begins to fall, heavy clouds, drop in temperature. The temperature is normal for Northern Urals.
This is a story about the forest. Mansi signs tell about animals they saw, resting stops and other things. It is particularly interesting to solve its meaning for the hikers as well as historians.
Deer trail turns into а trodden path, and then ends. To go without a trail is very hard, snow is 120 cm (4 feet) deep. The forest gradually thins and trees get smaller. You can feel the altitude. Lots of dwarf birches and pines. It is impossible to walk on the river. It is not completely frozen, there is ice and water under the snow. We have to go back on the bank of the river. The day is over and we have to find a place for bivouac. That's the stop for the night. Strong west wind. It blows the snows off the cedar and pine trees, creating the impression of a snow fall.
As usual we quickly start a fire and pitch the tent on fir branches. We are warmed by the fire and go to sleep.
31 January 1959
Today the weather is a bit worse wind (west), snow (probably from the pines) because the sky is perfectly clear.
Came out relatively early (around 10am). Took the same Mansi sled trail. Till now we walk along a Mansi trail, which was crossed by a deer hunter not long ago.
Yesterday we apparently came across his resting stop. Deer didn't go much further. The hunter didn't follow the beaten trail and we are now in his steps.
Today was surprisingly good accommodations for the tent, air is warm and dry, despite the low temperature of -18C to -24C. Walking is especially hard today. Visibility is very low. We can't see the trail and sometimes we have to advance gropingly. All we can do is 1.52 km (1 mile) per hour.
We are forced to find new methods of clearing the path for the skis. The first member leaves his backpack on the ground and walks forward, then returns and rests for 10-15 minutes with the group. Thus we have a non-stop paving of the trail. It is especially hard for the second to move down the new trail with full gear on the back. We gradually leave the Auspiya valley, the rise is continuous, but quite smooth. Fir trees are replaced by wispy birch-wood. We came out of the tree line. Wind is western, warm, penetrating. The speed of the wind is similar to the air draft created by a taking off airplane. Firn, open spaces. I can't even start thinking of setting up a storage. It's close to 4. We have to start looking for a place to pitch the tent. We are going south in Auspiya river valley. This apparently is the place covered with the deepest snow. Wind is not strong, snow cover is 1,22 m. Tired and exhausted we started the preparations for the night. Not enough firewood. Frail damp firs. We started fire with logs, too tired to dig a fire pit. We had supper right in the tent. It's warm. It is hard to imagine such a comfort somewhere on the ridge, with a piercing wind, hundreds kilometers away from human settlements.