Ever since European travelers began to explore Tibet they have reported legends of the huge ape-like creatures the locals called Metoh-kangmi, which translates roughly as filthy or abominable snowman. Stories about strange hairy man-like beasts reached Europe as early as the 15th century, but it was not until the 19th century that the subject began to arouse interest in the West.
In 1832, a report from the U.K. representative in Nepal (B.H. Hodson) described a hirsute creature who reportedly had attacked his servants. The natives called the beast 'rakshas', which means 'demon'. A report was published in the 'Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal', In it, B.H. Hodson concluded that he had seen an unusually large, upright orangutan (though these apes only live in the tropical jungles of Malaysia and Indonesia). This appears to be the first report of the Abominable Snowman made by a Westerner.
More than half a century later, in 1889, Major Lawrence Austine Waddell of the Indian Army Medical Corps, while exploring the Himalayas, came across huge footprints in the snow at 17,000 feet; his bearers told him that these were the tracks of a Yeti, a ferocious creature which was quite likely to attack humans and carry them off for food, and that the best way to escape it was to run down the mountain, for this beast had such long hair it would fall over its eyes and blind it when in their pursuit going downhill.
Then, in 1913, reports surfaced that a group of Chinese hunters had wounded and captured a hairy man-like creature, that the locals soon named the "snowman". This creature was supposedly kept captive in Patang at Sinkiang Province until it died five months later. It was described as having a black monkey-like face and a body covered with silvery yellow hair several inches long; it's hands and feet were man-like and the creature was incredibly strong. It grunted and made guttural noises, but mostly made loud whistling sounds. Incredibly, no photographs were ever reported taken or produced from this incident.
A year later in 1914, J. R. P. Gent, a British forestry officer stationed in Sikkim, wrote of discovering footprints of what must have been a huge and amazing creature.
Again, in 1921, an expedition led by Col. C. K. Howard-Bury (later Sir) climbing the North face of Mount Everest reported seeing a group of large creatures moving in the snow at the Laptha-La pass. Two years later another Mount Everest climbing expedition, this time led by Major Alan Cameron, observed a line of huge and dark creatures moving along a cliff face high above the snowline. Pictures of the creatures' tracks were taken two days later, when the expedition reached the area where they were seen.
In 1925 a Greek photographer and member of the Royal Geographical Society named N. A. Tombazi glimpsed a creature he later described as "exactly like a human being, walking upright and stopping occasionally to uproot or pull some dwarf rhododendron bushes." Tombazi, who was at about 15,000 feet up in the mountains on the Zemu glacier, later reached the spot where he sighted the creature, only to also find some intriguing tracks in the snow.
Stray discoveries of extraordinary tracks, glimpses of unidentifiable man-beasts and reports of bizarre attacks by alleged Yetis slowly increased in the second quarter of the 20th century, but most Westerners believed that the Snowman's true habitat was the realm of fantasy.
Then in November 1951, an impressive report was made by British mountaineers and Everest explorers Eric Shipton and Michael Ward (First Everest Reconnaissance Expedition), who crossed the Menlung Himalayan glacier and photographed giant footprints at about 20,000 feet above sea level. The prints measured thirteen by eighteen inches, and were described as having three small toes and a huge big toe that seemed to be almost circular. At the time the two climbers insisted that the tracks looked like were made by a two-legged creature, and certainly not a wolf or bear. However, tracks left in snow tend to enlarge when exposed to direct sunlight, and this may well explain many of the accounts of Snowman tracks, since smaller tracks of native animals tend to spread under warmth. Ward and Shipton could also have been influenced by their Sherpa mountain guides, who immediately identified the tracks as Yeti footprints.
Abominable Snowman hunts became the rage during the 1950s and 1960s, but fell off when nothing turned up. Although occasional reports of tracks found and sightings made continued to trickle in throughout the following years, they remained inconclusive. So, the mystery surrounding the existence of this creature still persists.
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