Yeti, The Purported ‘abominable Snowman’ In The Mountains Of Nepal
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Everyone has heard the stories; the grizzled mountaineer who stumbles from his tent high in the Himalaya to find enormous footprints in the snow! The lone trekker gets absolutely flabbergasted witnessing an enormous hirsute creature, standing upright on two legs, silhouetted against the mist on a remote mountain pass. This mythical creature has since then been assigned the nomenclature of ‘Yeti’.

Despite numerous expeditions to track down this elusive creature, evidence for the abominable snowman, the name given to the beast by a journalist for the Calcutta Statesman in 1921, has always been tantalizingly circumstantial. The curiosity is further escalated as one comes across the photographed footprints, enigmatic hair samples found on tree branches in the mountains and some interesting folk stories told by Sherpa yak herders. Even genetic tests on alleged yeti body parts preserved by monks in remote Himalayan monasteries have so far failed to provide evidence to support the yeti legend.

But science is pushing back the boundaries. In a recent study by geneticist, ‘Bryan Sykes’ from Oxford University, yeti hairs collected from Ladhakh and Bhutan were found to contain DNA with remarkable similarities to a prehistoric polar bear that became extinct some 40,000 years ago. This raises a curiosity question; is yeti a giant prehistoric bear? Unfortunately, the question does not have a concrete answer!

Close Encounters In Nepal

Nepal is where most of the high profile yeti encounters are believed to have taken place; thanks mainly to the presence of large numbers of intrepid mountaineers, roaming far beyond the regions of human habitation on the approach route to Mount Everest. Perhaps the most famous encounter of all came in 1951, when a British mountaineer, ‘Eric Shipton’ snapped his now-legendary photographs of yeti footprints on a reconnaissance trek through the Rolwaling Himal.

Setting our sight a little lower on the Buddhist monastery of Tengboche in the Solukhumbu region of Nepal, we get to meet many old monks who recall the tales of a ferocious yeti attack on the monastery yaks, in the years before trekkers came to Nepal. As the most important place of worship for the Sherpas of Solukhumbu, Tengboche is the ideal place to start the search for a beast that has so far dominated the Sherpa legends.

A similarly gruesome yeti attack is said to have taken place in 1974 in the village of Machhermo, several days northwest of Tengboche on the trekking route to Gokyo, where a local woman numbered amongst the victims. On the trek to Machhermo, you can detour to the monastery at Khumjung, on the plateau above Namche Bazaar, where there is a museum believed to have preserved the scalp of a yeti, which is regarded as a sacred relic and is kept in a locked box, following high profile thefts of yeti relics from other monasteries.

Alternatively, if we head northeast from Tengboche through the glorious rhododendron forests towards Pangboche, we come across a monastery where famous relics of a yeti hand and skull were stored until 1991, but were allegedly stolen and passed to a wealthy anonymous collector. As of now, the “Yeti" still remains an unsolved mystery!


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