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In Search of the Yeti

By Kirsty Parsons in Bhutan, Nepal & Tibet , Walking & Trekking , The Himalaya , Walking and Trekking - 4th June 2010

Mention that you are heading off on an Everest Base Camp trek and chances are someone will bring up the topic of the Yeti. The legend of the Yeti has been around for many years but was re-ignited in 1951 when a team on a reconnaissance expedition to Everest discovered some strange and unexplainable footprints. No conclusive evidence has ever been found that the legendary hairy man-beast exists but that hasn’t stopped people claiming to have seen him...

The word ‘Yeti’ translates literally in Tibetan as ‘magical creature’. Back in 1925, the first reports of an upright creature resembling an ape were made, and the world fell under the spell of the mysterious ‘magical’ Yeti. The sighting was made by a photographer who, alas, was unable to capture it on film; but he did find footprints which he described as being similar to a human’s but only six to seven inches long and with no imprint of a heel.

Fast-forward to 1951 and the team (who were the pioneers of our modern-day Everest Base Camp trek) DID manage to photograph the tracks that they found at an altitude of 20,000 feet. They were around thirteen inches wide and eighteen inches long and were widely reputed by experts to be genuine and not an elaborate hoax as some claimed.

Even Sir Edmund Hillary became embroiled in the legend of the Yeti when he and Tenzin Norgay also found giant footprints on their ascent of Everest. But there are many other claims which are a little more far-fetched, such as Captain d'Auvergue, from the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, who, whilst travelling through Nepal on his own fell victim to snow blindness. The Captain asserts that, near death, he was rescued by a nine-foot Yeti and nursed back to health.

In other stories the Yeti was not so charitable and there is a tale of a young Sherpa girl who was attacked by a Yeti as it attempted to drag her away. She fought back and instead of her, the Yeti settled for killing two of her yaks before he made off. Hard to believe yes; but police did in fact find footprints that gave some credence to the girl’s story.

The jury is definitely out on whether the legend of the Yeti is truth or fiction; his existence has never been proven, but neither has his non-existence. If you harbour your own theories taking an Everest Base Camp trek could be the perfect opportunity to prove your case. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera handy; and watch out for things that go bump in the night...

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