|Posted on December 11, 2011 at 5:40 PM|
WE'LL FIND THE YETI
Team of international scientists stage a new yeti expedition
Wednesday October 5,2011
By Julie Carpenter
THEY leave behind large footprints, an occasional hair and legendary tales of their sightings.
We are talking about the yeti, or the abominable snowman to give it one of its other names, and there have been many supposedly close encounters with these hirsute beasts which are said to roam the icy landscapes of the Himalayas and Siberia.
So far, however, no one has been able to prove their existence. No yeti has yet been captured by a man or even a camera lens meaning that, for many, the creature remains more unlikely than the Loch Ness Monster. But is all that about to change? Attempts to track down an example of the part-ape, part-bear and part-man are getting serious.
This week a team of international scientists will stage a new expedition and a conference which will be the largest of its kind since 1958 and will include experts from six nations. Russian and US delegates have agreed to share secret Cold War evidence in an attempt to establish that the yeti is more than a myth.
The expedition will centre around Kemerovo in Western Siberia, which is 2,000 miles and four time zones east of Moscow and in which a surge of sightings has been reported in recent years. Locals in the coal-mining area, where temperatures can drop as low as -40F, say that the creature steals sheep and hens. Expert Igor Burtsev believes that not one yeti lives there but a group of 30.
Raisa Sudochakova, 82, claims her dogs howled and ran when they saw “a tall creature but not giant”. She reported: “It was covered with long, brown-grey hair, like a bear. It wasn’t a bear. I have lived all my life in Siberia and wouldn’t make that mistake. This creature walked like a human, or almost like a human.”
Scientists are speculating that she may have seen a young yeti as other accounts have suggested that the creatures are around 7ft tall.
“Their bodies were covered in red and black fur and they could climb trees,” said one witness while villager Afanasy Kiskorov even reported that he rescued a yeti on a hunting trip.
“It was screaming in fear after falling into a swollen mountain river,” he claimed, adding that while his companions froze in amazement he held out a tree trunk and saved it. It then hot-footed it into the forest.
Burtsev is the director of the International Centre of Hominology in Tashtagol, Russia, where the yeti conference is taking place and it is his belief that the creatures are Neanderthal ancestors of man who have survived to this day. Should the expedition to Kemerovo result in tracking down a 30-strong group of them, however, it would be a monumental coup.
The most recent attempt to locate a yeti in the same area proved less than successful. That took place just weeks ago and was led by Russian heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev who is 7ft and 23 stone (322 lbs) and was nicknamed “the beast from the East” during his fighting career.
It would be true to say that his trek was not treated with total seriousness, with some suggestions that he simply wanted to challenge the yeti to a fight or was looking for a similarly sized mate. Still, his expedition did uncover some “gigantic footprints” outside a cave.
Such footprints have fuelled the myth for years, although the creature has more traditionally been spotted in the Himalayas. “The name yeti is thought to come from two Tibetan words meaning ‘rocky place’ and ‘bear’,” says William Hartston in his new book The Things That Nobody Knows, adding that “the yeti has been part of local beliefs since before Buddhist times”.
The creature entered Western knowledge when an upright, hairy figure was sighted by explorers of the 1921 British Himalayan expedition. It was only when that venture’s leader Eric Shipton brought back a photograph of a footprint from another Everest expedition in 1951 that public interest was well and truly aroused, despite the fact that explorer Sir Edmund Hillary believed the footprint had been substantially “improved” and Shipton emerged as a bit of a practical joker.
Nevertheless the yeti fever had begun and a rash of sightings ensued. Reinhold Messner, one of the world’s greatest climbers who was generally quite an unexcitable man, became obsessed with the legend after believing he had spotted one in 1986. He proceeded to try to find another on all his subsequent climbs.
In 2001 a trio of British explorers announced they were on the verge of proving the yeti existed after bringing back a hair that was believed to have come from one and having it analysed at Cambridge University. The tests suggested that the hair and the footprints they saw did not belong to any known species.
In North America the so-called cousin of the yeti is more commonly known as big foot or the sasquatch, which translates as “wild man”. To date, many scientists have voiced their belief in this “large hairy, bipedal humanoid” as it has been described,
In October 1967 American hunter Roger Patterson claimed that he came face to face with the creature in the forests around Bluff Creek, northern California. More interested than frightened, he whipped out his camera and shot 29ft of footage which showed the monster fleeing into the forest (it can still be seen on YouTube).
Whether this yeti expedition will result in success remains to be seen. There are those, after all, who are seeing the hunt as an attempt to boost tourism in the area, something which, it has to be said, worked for Loch Ness.