Among the snowy peaks of Nepal and Tibet, stories tell of a mysterious ape-like creature called the Yeti. Purported to be a towering human-like figure covered in shaggy fur, the Yeti continues to excite dedicated believers still hoping for evidence that the mythical creature is real. The lack of hard evidence despite decades of searches doesn’t deter true believers; the fact that these mysterious creatures haven’t been found is not taken as evidence that they don’t exist, but instead how rare, reclusive, and elusive they are.
The Yeti has its origins in folklore. The character is an ancient and important part of the legends and history of the Sherpa, the communities that live at an average altitude of 12,000 feet in eastern Nepal. It is said that the Yeti myth originated in Tibet, and reached Nepal via the Sherpa, descendants of families who emigrated from the Khams region of Tibet across the Himalayan range in the middle of the sixteenth century.
The Yeti became part of local traditions about 350 years ago when Lama Sangwa Dorje took up residence in a cave near the remote village of Pangboche, which had a clear view of Mount Everest. Lama Sangwa Dorje is referred to as the founder of the oldest monastery in Khumbu at Pangboche as well as many other small hermitages. According to local folklore, he was said to have been aided by Yetis and to have kept relics from the beasts. (Source: CNN)
For centuries, the mysterious giant snowman has fired the imagination of adventurers and mountaineers venturing into the Himalayan slopes. According to NatGeo TV, the search to find the Yeti can be traced back to the time of Alexander the Great, who in 326 BCE set out to conquer the Indus Valley. Having heard stories of the Yeti he demanded to see one for himself, but local people told him they were unable to present one because the creatures could not survive at that low an altitude.
In a press release on March 26, the Indian Army said an 18-strong unit would make its maiden expedition to Mount Makalu, an isolated peak at the border of Nepal and Tibet, between March and May. The unit was heading there as part of its objective of reaching the summit of all challenging peaks above 8,000 meters (26,247 feet), the statement said.
The official Twitter handle of the Indian Army created a buzz on social media late on Monday night for distinctly ‘non-military’ reasons. Late yesterday (April 29) night, the army’s additional directorate general of public information (ADGPI) said that while acclimatising at Langmale Kharka – above 3500 metres (11,500 feet), close to Makalu Base Camp – on April 9, 2019, its Mountaineering Expedition Team have found mysterious large footprints measuring 32 inches by 15 inches in the snow that they think belong to the Yeti.
While the latest claim has aroused excitement among Yeti-lovers on social media, it is at odds with scientific findings. Indian Army in rejecting any kind of scoffing over its mountaineering team’s claim of discovering footprints of the mythical creature said that photographic evidence about Yeti has been handed over to subject experts for scientific evaluation.
The buzz created by the Indian Army’s tweet proves fascination for the Yeti continues despite little concrete proof confirming the snowman’s existence. According to Ross Barnett, an evolutionary biologist and expert on ancient DNA at Durham University in the U.K., the legend of the Yeti will likely to live on. “You can’t debunk a myth with anything as mundane as facts,” he says.
As long as the stories are told and retold — and bears are glimpsed in other than ideal conditions or leave melting footprints in the snow — there will be stories of Yetis.
Khumjo Chumbi, a Buddhist monk once told the Guardian newspaper:
“We don’t believe in giraffes and lions in Nepal because there aren’t any there. Likewise, you don’t believe in yetis because you have none in your country.”
Despite skepticism from scientists, claims of Yeti sightings continue and the Indian Army’s tweet could potentially fire another round of debate over the mystical Himalayan giant. Some mysteries are probably better left unsolved.