The Yeti

This clipping references NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’s October 1962 article "Wintering on the Roof of the World" reports on Sir Edmund Hillary’s search for the Yeti. 1999

Stories of the Yeti vary in detail but many of them suggest a creature with an apelike body and a human-like face. Nepalese Sherpas have described the Yeti as having long, reddish-brown hair all over its body. One Sherpa monastery exhibited a Yeti "portrait" resembling the crossing of a wolf, tiger, and bear. Folklore describes a fearsome, savage beast with a high-pitched whistling scream; a vile, pungent odor; feet that point backwards; and supernatural powers. Superstitions say that sighting the creature can bring ill fortune, illness, or death.

Another of the many names for the Yeti is metoh-kangmi, a term mistakenly translated into English as "abominable snowman." That alluring name has stuck. The Yeti, which is supposed to live high in the Himalayas but has also been reported as far away as the European Alps, is said to prowl by night leaving huge footprints in the snow.

Many expeditions have attempted to prove the Yeti’s existence, but no scientific evidence has definitively confirmed it. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’s October 1962 article "Wintering on the Roof of the World," reports on Sir Edmund Hillary’s search for the Yeti. The famed Everest pioneer’s expedition (which had other scientific goals) did document a phenomenon that appears to account for "Yeti tracks." In shaded snow Hillary’s team found impressions resembling fox tracks. The tracks led to a sunny area where melting had elongated the tracks into large human-like footprints. Likewise, the melting of tracks of a snow leopard, bear, or wolf could create huge "footprints." Over time, human footprints in the area have been seen to grow to nearly 21 inches (53 centimeters).

Hillary’s team was shown fur purportedly taken from the Yeti. Investigation revealed that it was fur from the rare Tibetan blue bear. A "Yeti scalp" was analyzed and found to have been the molded skin of a serow—a goat like animal of the Himalayas. Hillary returned from the Himalayas believing that the Yeti exists only in legend.

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