The yeti – a creature that’s captured people’s imaginations for generations. But is it real?
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Once known as “the abominable snowman”, the yeti is thought to live in the mountains of Asia, below the Himalayan snow line. Historic descriptions of it put it at between 91 to 181kg in weight, and about six feet in height, with a muscular body, covered in reddish-brown hair.
The myth of the yeti has long fascinated people from around the world. In 326 BC, when the king of Macedonia, Alexander the Great, conquered the Indus Valley, he demanded to see a yeti. But according to the National Geographic, the local people told him that they could not present one because the creatures could not survive at such a low altitude.
When people from the West began journeying to the Himalayas, the yeti’s vague form developed more character. In 1921, according to the UK-based news website BBC, a journalist named Henry Newman interviewed some British explorers who had just returned from their Everest expedition. They told the journalist they had spotted very large footprints on the mountain, which their guides attributed to “metoh-kangmi”, meaning “man-bear snow-man”. Newman accidentally mistranslated “metoh” as “filthy”, and termed it the “abominable” snowman when he finally published his story. And voila, a legend was born.
But has the yeti ever been spotted? Several times, or so people thought.
In March 1986, an English physicist who was hiking in the Himalayas, saw what he thought was a yeti standing in the snow, near a ridge about 500 feet away. It didn’t move or make a noise, but Woolridge saw odd tracks in the snow that he said led towards the figure. He took two photographs of it, which were later analysed and proven genuine.
Many thought this to be conclusive proof of the yeti, especially considering Woolridge’s extensive hiking experience in the region and the unlikely event that he would have made a mistake. However, the following year, researchers returned to the position where Woolridge captured the images, and discovered he had simply seen a dark rock outcropping that appeared vertical from his position. It was all an embarrassing mistake.
Since then, there have been lots of sightings and reports, but no hard proof for the yeti’s existence. The elusive creature, if it exists, continues to remain hidden. But its legend persists in our imaginations.
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