It had been agreed beforehand that Dyatlov would send a telegram to UPI sports club as soon as the group returns to Vizhay. It was expected that this would happen no later than February 12, but Dyatlov had told Yudin that he expected to be longer, and so when date passed and no message had been received there was no immediate reaction - delays of few days were common in such expeditions. The relatives of the missing hikers demanded a rescue operation and only then did the head of the institute send on February 20 the first rescue groups consisting of volunteer students and teachers. Later, the army and police forces became involved, with planes and helicopters being ordered to join the rescue operation.
The first person to become bothered by the delay of the hikers return was Kolevatov’s eldest sister Rimma Sergeevna Kolevatova. She started asking questions, urging authorities to start a rescue operation, and on February 26 she sent a telegram to Nikita Khrushchev.
The telegram was shown in Kremlin on February 27. Rimma Kolevatova's testimony published below clearly shows her knowledge that a telegram from the hikers sent from Vizhay was expected on February 12 with a notice about their arrival in Sverdlovks. Kolevatov's sister, in her despair, made up and earlier date of the group’s expected return date to make the facts more ominous. This telegram may have escalated the search and rescue operation to the highest circles. Special report dated February 28 addressed to the Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR signed by the Minister of the Interior of the RSFSR is published below.
"Dear Nikita Sergeevich By the scheduled date on February 9, a group of tourists from the Polytechnic Institute of Sverdlovsk did not return from an expedition in the Northern Urals Search began late only after 10 days had passed Regional organizations have not yet taken effective measures We earnestly request your assistance in the urgent search for our children. Every hour counts now"
Testimony of Rimma Sergeevna Kolevatova April 14, 1959:
"... The search of the missing group started with a great delay. The group was supposed to return in Sverdlovsk on February 14-15, on February 12 they were to send a telegram from Vizhay, their final point along the route. Parents were worried about their children and, of course, they called both the UPI sports club and the city sports club (according to Dubinina and Slobodin's families). I myself called the institute only on February 17, 3 days after the expected return date. I couldn't get hold of UPI sports club chairman Gordo, all my attempts to get through to him were futile. I then called the city sports club Comrade Ufimtsev. He assured me that there is nothing to worry about, that the group is delayed for a week and they are on their way back. A certain fact is indignant and criminal: Gordo informed UPI party committee that a telegram had been received from Vizhay on February 18 reporting a delay of the group. Secretary of the UPI party committee Comrade F. P. Zaostrovsky did not check on Gordo's report and did not inform the Director of UPI Comrade N. S. Syunov, about the incident. The Director learned about the missing group only after he was phoned by Comrade Pedchenko E.P. from the city party committee (I myself had to go to the city committee with a request to take measures to initiate search of the missing group). There was a telegram though, but from a different group that was in the same area (Blinov's group), so the institute's directorate was not informed about the negligence. The search began only at the insistence of the parents of tourists...
The above fact testifies to the utter indifference and lack of control on behalf of those responsible for organizing the campaign and launching the search groups."
Re the death of the Ural Polytechnic Institute students - members of a tourist trek in Sverdlovsk region
Minister of the Interior of the RSFSR
Igor Dyatlov didn’t file all the required documents for the trip, notably the map or the rout. The organization of the rescue expedition became hindered by this fact. The necessary information began to be feverishly reconstructed from the stories of people who heard about the plans of Dyatlov group. The problem with the missing map was resolved by a member of another Politech sport club - Ignaty Fokich Ryagin, a friend of the Kolevatov family, who discussed extensively with Alexander the forthcoming trek in mid-January. Ryagin recalled the route of the group from memory and on February 19 Rimma handed over the map to Colonel Georgy Ortyukov, a tactics instructor from the UPI military department, who led the search for the group in those February days, and subsequently put a lot of effort into clarifying the history of the Dyatlov group.
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UPI sports club called a meeting, and the other expedition groups in the region were informed that there might be a problem with Dyatlov group. Search parties were formed that including the hikers from treks that had recently returned. The groups led by Sergey Sogrin, Yuri Blinov, and Vladislav Karelin all received telegrams telling them to stop and wait for reinforcements.
More teams from the university were dispatched to help with the search. One team was led by Boris Slobtsov, a student at the UPI, another by Oleg Grebennik, also a UPI student, and the third by Moses Axelrod, an experienced climber. Under the command of Captain Alexey Chernyshov, a fourth fresh group comprising military personnel was dispatched. Some local Mansi people were also asked to help.
Moscow was made aware of the incident, and soon also sent a few experienced hikers. Yevgeny Maslennikov, the head of the UPI sports club, was appointed to coordinate the search, together with Colonel George Ortyukov of the Army, who was in charge of overall logistics and helicopter support. Slobtsov group of 11 assembled first and consisted mainly of UPI students: Boris Slobtsov, Vadim Brusnitsin, Stas Devyatov, Yuri Koptelov, Vyacheslav Krotov, Vladimir Lebedev, Vladimir Strelnikov, Vyacheslav Khalizov, Mikhail Sharavin. The group also included two local residents - forester Ivan Pashin and hunter Alexei Cheglakov of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with experience in the taiga.
Several prison guards from the Ivdel LAG under the leadership of Captain Alexey Chernyshov and another seven officers of MVD (cops) under command of lieutenant Potapov have joined the search in the Dyatlov group. Another three groups were formed in UPI from student volunteers under the leadership of Oleg Grebennik, Moises Akselrod and Boris Slobtsov. Additionally, four Mansi hunters were hired to help and look for the missing group. Moscow sent several specialists including E.P. Maslennikov, Baskin, Bardin and Shuleshko.
Slobtsov rescue group was transported on an airplane from Sverdlovsk to the military airfield of Ivdel with equipment and weekly supply of products.
In poor visibility, Slobtsov group was transferred by two helicopters to what turn to be Mount Pumsalnel 1055, a peak east of Otorten. They were trying to get as close to Otorten as they could since this was the final destination of Dyatlov group. They wanted to find out if they have been to Otorten. Within five hours of the aerial search, a ski trail was spotted running along the bank of the Auspiya River and then in the direction of the ridge. The trail appeared to be old. After landing on Pumsalnel 1055 Slobtsov group descended towards Lozva river and secured the equipment in a bivouac. Slobtsov wrote:
"On the top, where we were brought in by helicopter, we saw no tracks. The next day was dedicated to some useless searches along the Lozva River. That very day we came to the banks of the Auspiya, where we knew that Dyatlov was intending to create his storage depot. Sure enough, on the left bank of this river we found some old ski tracks. A radio message was sent by our search team operator, and we received the following message from our fellow rescue group: ‘We’re six or ten kilometers from the Auspiya and we’ve found narrow sports ski tracks, different to the wide tracks of the Mansi skis. It’s a good trail made by a number of people, and is probably 10-15 days old, very easy to follow in the forest, but almost invisible in open places. The track goes to the ridge, where of course it disappears due to wind and snow drifts.’"
Next day Slobtsov rescue group reached the mountain and came to a conclusion that Dyatlov group never made it this far. The students didn't find any traces, flags or anything else that would indicate recent ascend. They crossed the source of Lozva trying to find tracks left by Dyatlov group. They didn't find any but realized that tracks can be only preserved in the taiga. On the open slopes of the mountain the skis didn't leave any trace. Therefore they decided to look for footprints father down, in the taiga, and cross the forest part of Auspiya valley. There laid another possible route of Dyatlov group. On Feb 24 Slobtsov group moved south, to the valley of Auspiya river.
Slobtsov group going up and down Auspiya valley found 5 km down the river Dyatlov group camp site. On the left bank of the river were barely noticeable snow-covered ski tracks.
Karelin group finished a trek to Mount Molebny Kamen from 9 to 24 Feb 1959. They started in the area of the upper sources Niols river towards Mount Sampalchakhl 910 where Dyatlov group was supposed to end their trek at the same time. Both groups had discussed meeting near Oykachakhl 1322. When Dyatlov was no show Karelin made a big deal of it and they continued their way. Two weeks later 25 Feb 1959 in a dining room at the train station of Serov city a man, calling himself a representative of Northern geological party, approached the hikers and asked casually "Aren't they searching for you?" They answered warily "What do you mean search? We are not due yet." They called hastily Sverdlovsk and learned from Orlov about the missing Dyatlov group. They were summoned to participate in the search operation. Two of the members, Goryachko and Granin, were in no shape to continue and were sent back to Sverdlovsk. The other six members: Vladislav Karelin, Georgy Atmanaki, Boris Borisov, Evgeniy Serditih, Vladimir Skutin and Vladimir Shavkunov joined the rescuers in Ivdel by train same day at 11 pm. Next day 25 Feb Georgy Atmanaki and Vladimir Skutin were on board of the plane that flew to survey a point of disembarkation for Akselrod group near peak Otorten.
Slobtsov group split into tree divisions. The first one went south where Dyatlov group could have gone after their descent from Otorten, the second division examined Auspiya river for tracks and in the search for the storage site (labaz) of Dyatlov group. The third division followed the trajectory of the Dyatlov group ski trail up Kholat Syakhl where they found the torn Dyatlov group tent.
|Boris Efimovich Slobtsov||Борис Ефимович Слобцов||UPI student|
|Vadim Dmitrievich Brusnitsin||Вадим Дмитриевич Брусницын||UPI student|
|Stas Devyatov||Стас Девятов||UPI student|
|Yuri Koptelov||Юрий Коптелов||UPI student|
|Vyacheslav Krotov||Вячеслав Кротов||UPI student|
|Vladimir Lebedev||Владимир Лебедев||UPI student|
|Vladimir Strelnikov||Владимир Стрельников||UPI student|
|Vyacheslav Khalizov||Вячеслав Хализов||UPI student|
|Michael Petrovich Sharavin||Михаил Петрович Шаравин||UPI student, found Doroshenko and Krivonischenko's bodies on Feb 27|
|Ivan Pashin||Иван Пашин||Mansi forestert|
|Alexei Cheglakov||Алексей Чеглаков||Mansi hunter|
|Egor Semenovich Nevolin||Егор Семенович Неволин||radioman|
|Stepan Kourikov||Степан Куриков||Mansi shaman|
|Nikolay Anyamov||Николай Анямов||Mansi|
|Petr Bakhtiyarov||Петр Бахтияров||Mansi|
|Oleg Grebennik||Олег Гребенник|
|Vladimir Shlyapin||Владимир Шляпин|
|Vladislav Georgievich Karelin||Владислав Георгиевич Карелин||UPI student|
|Georgy Vladimirovich Atmanaki||Георгий Владимирович Атманаки||UPI student,(1934-1962) Died in Caucasian mountains on Aug 15|
|Vladimir Skutin||Владимир Скутин||UPI student|
|Boris Borisov||Борис Борисов||UPI student|
|Evgeniy Serditih||Евгений Сердитых||UPI student|
|Vladimir Shavkunov||Владимир Шавкунов||UPI student|
|Moses Abramovich Akselrod||Моисей Абрамович Аксельрод||Master of sports|
|Sergey Nikolaevich Sogrin||Сергей Николаевич Согрин||UPI student|
|Captain Alexey Chernyshov||Kапитан Алексей Чернышeв|
|Captain Vlasov||Kапитан Власов||experienced pathfinder|
|Petty Officer Sidorov||Старшина Сидоров||experienced pathfinder|
|Staff Sergeant Verhovsky||Старший сержант Верховскийв||experienced pathfinder|
|Yablonskiy||Яблонский||civialian, experienced pathfinder|
|Vladimir Askinadzy||Владимир Аскинадзи||UPI student, found Liydmila's body on May 2|
|Nikolay Kuznetzov||Николай Кузнецов||UPI student|
|Boris Suvorov||Борис Суворов||UPI student|
|Anatoly (Tolya) Mohov||Анатолий (Толя) Мохов||UPI student|
|Who is who|
|Colonel Georgy Semenovich Ortyukov||Полковник Георгий Семенович Ортюков||(1914-1979) Overall logistics and helicopter support|
|Eugene Polikarpovich Maslennikov||Евгений Поликарпович Масленников||(1924-1983) Master of sports, head of the UPI sports club|
|Petr Ivanovich Bartholomew||Петр Иванович Бартоломей|
|Valentin Gerasimovich Yakimenko||Валентин Герасимович Якименко|
|Александер Дмитриевич Губин||Александр Дмитриевич Губин|
|Vladimir Ivanovich Korotaev||Владимир Иванович Коротаев||First investigator *|
|Lev Nikitich Ivanov||Лев Никитич Иванов||Lead investigator|
|Boris Alekseevich Vozrozhdenny||Борис Алексеевич Возрожденный||Regional bureau forensic pathologist with 5 years experience at the time (1922-)|
|Vasily Ivanovich Tempalov||Василий Иванович Темпалов||the prosecutor in the criminal case|
|Lev Semenovich Gordo||Лев Семенович Гордо||(1918-2009) UPI sports club chairman, he was blamed for the money shortage and poor organization of the expedition|
|Nikolay Ivanovich Klinov||Николай Иванович Клинов||(1907-1991) Prosecutor of Sverdlovsk region, approved the official statement for closing the case given by Junior Counselor of Justice and Criminal Prosecutor of Sverdlovsk region, Lev Ivanov.|
|Boris Martyushev||Борис Владимирович Мартюшев||(1938–1969) Pioneer of the Urals Alps. Died in the Western Caucasus|
|Vladimir Ivanovich Parshakov||Владимир Иванович Паршаков||First secretary of The Central Committee of the All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League (ГК ВЛКСМ)|
|Ivan Dmitrievich Rempel||Иван Дмитриевич Ремпель||Forester of the Vizhay region|
|Victor Malyutin||Виктор Малютин|
|Vadim Fyodorov||Вадим Федоров|
|Evgeni Vadimovich Buyanov||Евгений Вадимович Буянов|
* Vladimir Korotaev was working with the Mansi and hurricane theories. Thirty-seven years after the incident, he mentioned in a speech that the Mansi were under the heavy suspicion, but they pointed to the wind as a possible cause of the deaths of the Dyatlov group, saying that the wind can be so strong it carries people away. At that point the bodies had yet to be examined, and Korotaev gives the following reason for releasing the Mansi:
"When the tent was brought to my office for investigation, a woman entered the room and, when she saw the tent, she said she had worked for 30 years as a seamstress in Ivdelag (prison); and she took one look at the fabric of the tent and told me the tent was cut from the inside, not the outside. For me, this was significant, and I ordered the tent to be sent for a forensic examination."
The examination proved that the tent was cut from inside; this was the formal reason for clearing the Mansi of suspicion. There were other reasons for doing so:
Soon after releasing the Mansi, Korotaev refused to continue investigation according to instructions, and he was removed from the position of lead investigator which he occupied for 20 days. One of the party cherubs, reporting on the progress of the investigation directly to Khrushchev, was the first secretary of the Sverdlovsk Regional Party Committee, Andrei Pavlovich Kirilenko. In the future - a member of the Politburo and secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, head of the Military Industrial Commission, in the 50 years Kirilenko led the Dnipropetrovsk and Sverdlovsk regions of the USSR - the main forge of the Cold War. After the discovery of the last 4 bodies in the ravine in the first days of May, Kirilenko summoned Korotaev to the investigator's office and unequivocally explained:
"Khrushchev is notified that the students froze to death and the case must be closed."
At the time Korotaev was helping Tempalov, the prosecutor in the criminal case. After this visit, Korotaev was unexpectedly fired from the investigation all together. On May 28, 1959, investigator Lev Ivanov closed the case, was promoted to the prosecutor of the Kostanay region, and the annals of Soviet jurisprudence were supplemented with a sophisticated formulation:
"The reason for the death of students was a force majeure, which they were unable to overcome."
Everyone who took part in the search signed a non-disclosure of information for 25 years. Kholat Syakhl and Otorten were closed for turists.