The Yeti or Abominable Snowman is an alleged ape-like bipedal cryptid said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet.
Some in the scientific community regard the Yeti as a legend, however it remains one of the most discussed and seeked creatures of cryptozoology, together with his “cousin”, Bigfoot of North America.
Etymology and names
In Tibetan, Yeti means “magical creature”; meh-the means the “manlike thing that is not a man”. The appellation “Abominable Snowman” was not coined until 1921, when Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury led the joint Alpine Club and Royal Geographical Society “Everest Reconnaissance Expedition” which he chronicled in Mount Everest The Reconnaissance, 1921. In the book, Howard-Bury includes an account of crossing the “Lhakpa-la” at 21,000 ft (6,400 m) where he found footprints that he believed “were probably caused by a large ‘loping’ grey wolf, which in the soft snow formed double tracks rather like a those of a bare-footed man”
He adds that his Sherpa guides “at once volunteered that the tracks must be that of “The Wild Man of the Snows”. However, the translator at the time incorrectly transcribed it as metoh-kangmi, which translates approximately to “abominable snowman”.
Other terms used by Himalayan peoples do not translate exactly the same, but refer to legendary and indigenous wildlife:
- Meh-teh translates as “man-bear”.
- Dzu-teh translates as “cattle bear”
- Migoi or Mi-go) translates as “wild man”.
- Mirka – another name for “wild-man”, however as local legend has it “anyone who sees one dies or is killed”.
- Kang Admi – “Snow Man”.
- The people of Nepal also call them rakshasa which is Sanskrit for “demon”.
- Jo-Bran – “Man eater”.
According to the Tibetans, stories of its existence date back to the 4th century BC when references to the Yeti are found in a poem called ‘Rama and Sita’. The belief in these creatures is universal among Tibetans. The government of Nepal from officially declared the Yeti to exist in 1961. It became their national symbol, and an important source of income.
Some relics are displayed in Tibetan monasteries such as a so-called yeti scalp (below).
Most sightings of the Yeti have been recorded in Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan, and surrounding areas.
The Himalayas, which include the famous Mount Everest (the highest mountain in the world with 29,028 feet high) offer many areas that are not accessible to man and hidden caves where large population of the creature are said to inhabit.
The Yeti has regularly been sighted since 1832 when it was first spotted in Nepal by BH Hodgson.
The first reliable report of the Yeti appeared in 1925 when a Greek photographer, N. A. Tombazi, working as a member of a British geological expedition in the Himalayas, saw a creature moving in the distance across some lower slopes. The creature was almost a thousand feet away in a area with an altitude of 15,000 feet. “Unquestionably, the figure in outline was exactly like a human being, walking upright and stopping occasionally to uproot or pull at some dwarf rhododendron bushes,” said Tombazi, “It showed up dark against the snow and, as far as I could make out wore no clothes.” The creature disappeared before Tombazi could take a photograph and was not seen again. The group was descending, though, and the photographer went out of his way to see the ground were he had spotted the creature. Tombazi found footprints in the snow. “They were similar in shape to those of a man, but only six to seven inches long by four inches wide at the broadest part of the foot. The marks of five distinct toes and the instep were perfectly clear, but the trace of the heel was indistinct…” There were 15 prints to be found. Each was one and one half to two feet apart. Then Tombazi lost the trail in thick brush. When the locals were asked to name the beast he’d seen they told him it was a “Kanchenjunga demon.” Tombazi didn’t think he’d seen a demon, but he couldn’t figure out what the creature was either.
One of the more curious reports of a close encounter with a Yeti occurred in 1938. Captain d’Auvergue, the curator of the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, India, was traveling the Himalayas by himself when he became snowblind. As he neared death from exposure he was rescued by a nine foot tall Yeti that nursed him back to health until d’Auvergue was able to return home by himself.
In 1951, an expedition found a track on the southwestern slopes of the Menlung Glacier between Tibet and Nepal, at an altitude of 6000 meters. The footprints they saw were 33 cm by 45 cm and were made by a foot which has 5 toes of which the inner toes were larger than the others. The heel was flat and exceptionally broad. The track itself appeared to be fresh so the footprints were not enlarged by melting snow. Eric Shipton and Micheal Ward, two British mountaineers followed the trail for a mile before it disappeared in hard ice. This was clearly shown by the many photographs they took. Although there were many doubts about these photographs, if they were believed to be true at all.
The London Daily Mail sent an expedition in 1954, american oil men Tom Slick and F. Kirk Johnson financed trips in 1957, 58, and 59. In 1959, Yeti droppings were recovered and brought for further investigation. A new species of nematode worm was discovered, which according to scientists, will only be found to be linked to one type of animal. As this species of worm is known not to be linked to any other animal this evidence has been accepted as proof towards the yeti existing.
Sir Edmund Hillary, the same man that had first climbed Everest in 1953, has alleged to have come into contact with the yeti on several occasions. On their record ascent to the top of Mount Everest,he and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, found giant foot prints on the way up. In 1960 Sir Edmund with Desmond Doig, led an expedition sponsored by the World Book Encyclopedia and well outfitted with trip-wire cameras, as well as timelapse and infrared photography. Unfortunately, his expedition was as unsuccessful as those who had gone before. Despite a ten-month stay the group failed to find any convincing evidence of the existence of the Yeti. However, he brought back with him two skins and a scalp which he claims to be the upper half of the skull of a Yeti. This scalp came from the Khumjung Gompa (monastery) in Nepal where it is kept as a relic. It is some 300 years old, 20 cm high and has a circumference of 65 cm. But Scientists said it belonged to a serow (mountain goat) which lives in eastern Asia and two blue bears.
In 1970, British mountaineer Don Whillans witnessed a creature when scaling Annapurna. While scouting for a campsite he heard odd cries which his Sherpa guide attributed to a Yeti’s call. That night he saw a dark shape moving near his camp. The next day, he found large human-like footprints in the snow and that evening viewed with binoculars a bipedal, ape-like creature for 20 minutes as it apparently searched for food not far from his camp.
In 1972 footprints were found by Edward Cronin and Dr Howard Emery on an expedition in Nepal. The footprints were found amidst the base camp in a valley between Everest and Kanchenjunga, and followed a path from the camp to a steep incline. The expedition agreed that the incline was extremely treacherous and would be virtually impossible for a human to climb. A mould was taken of the footprint for future research by Jeffrey McNeely.
A yeti was alleged to have attacked Lhakpa Domani in 1974 near Mount Everest. She described it as similar to a large ape-like creature with black and brown hair. It was said to have picked her up and thrown her some distance, then attacked the yaks that she had been tending.Her brother found her soon after, wounded and unconscious, but alive. Several nearby Yaks lay dead, half eaten. The Yeti’s footprints were all around them. No reason whatsoever could be found for the unprovoked attack.
In 1984, famed mountaineer David P. Sheppard of Hoboken, New Jersey, followed by a large, furry “man” over the course of several days while he was near the southern Col of Everest. His sherpas, however, say they saw no such thing. Sheppard took a photograph of the creature. Later study of the photo proved inconclusive.
In early December 2007, American television presenter Joshua Gates and his team (Destination Truth) reported finding a series of footprints in the Everest region of Nepal resembling descriptions of Yeti. Each of the footprints measured 33 cm (13 in) in length with five toes that measured a total of 25 cm (9.8 in) across. Casts were made of the prints for further research. The footprints were examined by Jeffrey Meldrum of Idaho State University, who believed them to be too morphologically accurate to be fake or man made. Meldrum also stated that they were very similar to a pair of Bigfoot footprints that were found in another area.
On October 20, 2008 a team of seven Japanese adventurers photographed footprints possibly made by a Yeti. The team’s leader, Yoshiteru Takahashi claims to have observed a Yeti on a 2003 expedition and is determined to capture the creature on film.
In 2009, Joshua Gates and his team (Destination Truth) led another expedition to the Himalayas. They found a hair sample that did not appear to match any known species of animal, though it was confirmed a large primate. They also found an animal limb that had clearly been torn straight off of the animal. They suspected that this was the work of the Yeti.