Bigfoot Encounters

Nepal is outraged by climber's claim that yeti is just a bear
By Thomas Bell in Kathmandu

Commentary to journalist Mr. Bell: Eric Shipton was many things, but cavorting about in a gorilla costume on Mt.Everest was not even close to accurate journalism research!

Kathmandu, Nepal 27 September 2003 --- A claim that the yeti does not exist has been greeted with a chorus of stern disapproval by leading Nepalese officials and commentators.

The row began when a claim by a Japanese mountaineer, Makato Nebuka, that the yeti is really a meti, or Himalayan brown bear, was labelled "controversial" and ultimately "fallacious" in a front-page analysis in the daily Kathmandu Post.

Among those lining up to dismiss Mr Nebuka, who has spent 12 years climbing in the mountains of Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan without once encountering an abominable snowman, was the chief government surveyor, Tirtha Bahadur Pradhanga, an amateur "yetiologist".

He said it was it was too soon to "simply deny that the yeti exists".

According to him, the word "yeti" means "rock animal" in the Sherpa language. Professor Ram Kumar Pandey, a linguist at Tribhuvan University, said: "No one should draw conclusions based on linguistic coincidences."

Although the yeti has long been a part of Sherpa belief, the first physical evidence of the species' existence were giant footprints photographed by Eric Shipton on the 1951 Everest expedition. Shipton, who enjoys a posthumous reputation as a joker, is regarded as the father of a tradition which has included mountaineers frolicking on Everest in gorilla costumes.

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