The Yeti or Abominable Snowman is an apelike cryptid said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet. The names Yeti and Meh-Teh are commonly used by the people indigenous to the region and are part of their history and mythology. Stories of the Yeti first emerged as a facet of Western popular culture in the late 1800s.
The scientific community largely regards the Yeti as a legend, given the lack of evidence, yet it remains one of the most famous creatures of cryptozoology. The Yeti can be considered a parallel to the Bigfoot legend of North America.
In 1832, James Prinsep’s Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal published trekker B. H. Hodgson’s account of his experiences in northern Nepal. His local guides spotted a tall, bipedal creature covered with long dark hair, which seemed to flee in fear. Hodgson did not see the creature, but concluded it was an orangutan.
The frequency of reports increased during the early 20th century, when Westerners began making determined attempts to scale the many mountains in the area and occasionally reported seeing odd creatures or strange tracks.
In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reported seeing large footprints while scaling Mount Everest. Hillary would later discount Yeti reports as unreliable. In his first autobiography Tenzing said that he believed the Yeti was a large ape, and although he had never seen it himself his father had seen one twice, but in his second autobiography he said he had become much more skeptical about its existence.
Beginning in 1957, wealthy American oilman Tom Slick funded a few missions to investigate Yeti reports. In 1959, supposed Yeti feces were collected by one of Slick’s expeditions. Fecal analysis found a parasite which could not be classified. Cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans wrote, “Since each animal has its own parasites, this indicated that the host animal is equally an unknown animal.”
In 1970, British mountaineer Don Whillans claimed to have witnessed a creature when scaling Annapurna. According to Whillans, while scouting for a campsite, he heard some odd cries which his Sherpa guide attributed to a Yeti’s call. That night, he saw a dark shape moving near his camp. The next day, he observed a few human-like footprints in the snow, and that evening, viewed with binoculars a bipedal, ape-like creature for 20 minutes as it apparently searched for food not far from his camp.
In 1984, famed mountaineer David P. Sheppard of Hoboken, New Jersey, claims to have been followed by a large, furry man over the course of several days while he was near the southern Col of Everest. His sherpas, however, say they saw no such thing. Sheppard claims to have taken a photograph of the creature, but a later study of it proved inconclusive.
Enthusiasts speculate that these reported creatures could be present-day specimens of the extinct giant ape Gigantopithecus. However, while the Yeti is generally described as bipedal, most scientists believe Gigantopithecus to have been quadrupedal, and so massive that, unless it evolved specifically as a bipedal ape, walking upright would have been even more difficult for the now extinct primate than it is for its extant quadrupedal relative, the orangutan.