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  • Writer's pictureJ.P. Robinson

The Yeti Enigma

The following article is an extract from the Living Hominids chapter in The Myth Of Man by JP Robinson.

Unknown tracks in the snow photographed by Shitpon in 1951

Footprints in the snow account for the majority of Yeti related incidents recorded by Europeans, most having been witnessed by expedition personnel which includes such notables as Lord John Hunt (leader of the British Expedition to Mt. Everest in 1953), H.W. Tilman and Sir Edmund Hillary who conquered Everest with Sherpa Tensing in May 1953.

British mountain climber Eric Shipton (below) found and photographed the most famous Yeti footprints on record, and such was his reputation that even today sceptics struggle to completely discount the Shipton tracks as proof that something unusual and unexplained does actually occupy at least some parts of the Himalayas.

Portrait of Eric Shipton

While on his fifth visit to Mount Everest, on November 8, 1951 at 4pm, Shipton discovered some large and bizarre footprints as he was returning from an Everest reconnaissance expedition with their doctor Michael Ward. The tracks set in deep snow appeared as they were exploring the saddle at the head of the Menlung Glacier at close to 19,000 ft. near the Nepal/Tibet border.

The most popular and often reproduced Shipton photo of a single footprint next to his ice-axe for size comparison (below) was not actually part of the trail of tracks which he found and followed for about a mile along the edge of the glacier but was taken in roughly the same area earlier in the day.

This one single image has succeeded in bringing much attention to the Yeti mystery and as author Myra Shackley noted, it ‘mysteriously endowed the whole Yeti business with respectability as being something discovered by people with no hope of commercial gain or need for sensational publicity.’ Along with Ward and Shipton, the expedition party consisted of Tom Bourdillon, Edmund Hillary, Earle Riddiford, W.H. Murray, Sen Tensing and six other Sherpas.

In an extract taken from The Six Mountains-Travel Books, Eric Shipton recalls the day’s events in 1951:

‘. . . late one afternoon, we came across those curious footprints in the snow, the report of which has caused a certain amount of public interest in Britain. We did not follow them further than was convenient, a mile or so, for we were carrying heavy loads at the time, and besides we had reached a particularly interesting stage in the exploration of the basin. I have in the past found many sets of these curious footprints and have tried to follow them, but have always lost them on the moraine or rocks at the side of the glacier.

These particular ones seemed to be very fresh, probably not more than 24 hours old. When Murray and Bourdillon followed us a few days later the tracks had been almost obliterated by melting. Sen Tensing, who had no doubt whatsoever that the creatures (for there had been at least two) that had made the tracks were ‘Yetis’ or wild men, told me that two years before, he and a number of other Sherpas had seen one of them at a distance of about 25 yards at Thyangboche. He described it as half man and half beast, standing about five feet six inches, with a tall pointed head, its body covered with reddish brown hair, but with a hairless face. . . Whatever it was he had seen, he was convinced that it was neither a bear nor a monkey, with both of which animals he was, of course, very familiar.’

Shipton discussed his findings in a report written for The Times newspaper:

‘The tracks were mostly distorted by melting into oval impressions, slightly longer and a good deal broader than those made by our mountain boots. But here and there, where the snow covering the ice was thin, we came upon preserved impressions of the creature’s foot. It showed three ‘toes’ [further analysis reveals there were actually four] and a broad ‘thumb’ to the side. What was particularly interesting was that where the tracks crossed a crevasse one could see quite clearly where the creature had jumped and used its toes to secure purchase on the other side.’

Yeti is considered to be more primitive than Sasquatch and the other hominoids yet to be discussed in this chapter, in that it appears to be more closely connected to the great apes (gorillas) than the others. Yeti feet share distinct similarities with pongid (ape) feet and eyewitnesses have described its walk as lumbering and shambling compared to the smoother glide of its counterparts. It has also been noted that in order to move faster, the Yeti prefers to scramble down-on-all-fours as opposed to its usual upright walking posture. Its broad feet appear ideal for trekking through deep snow whilst the two big toes allow for a solid purchase on narrow rock ledges as Shipton’s observations suggest. Such highly specialised feet, whilst biomechanically perfect for the Himalayan terrain, will in all likelihood stop the creature responsible for the tracks from expanding their range beyond the mountains of which they are accustomed.

Shipton’s photos have taken on great importance due to the clarity of the images, the integrity of the photographer along with the remoteness of the discovery. As Ivan Sanderson noted, a ‘sort of revolution began within the ranks of science’ because of his photos. The subject has been taken much more seriously since those images were made public because, as John Napier remarked, the Shipton Yeti print photo ‘is unique, for it is the only item of evidence of the Yeti saga that offers the opportunity for critical analysis.’

In an issue of the New Scientist magazine from May 12, 1960 the editor wrote that ‘the idea of a sort of land-based coelacanth, a living fossil skulking in the mountains of Tibet, takes the whole concept of the Snowman out of the science fiction category.’[i]

Ex British army officer Lord John Hunt, who led the successful British expedition to Everest in 1953 alongside Shipton, Hillary and the others, originally applied to lead the 1936 expedition but failed on medical grounds with a minor heart problem. Despite the setback, Hunt made a trip to the Himalayas the following year, in which he summited the south-western Nepal Peak and also the Zemu Gap between Kangchenjunga and Simvo. It was here where he first encountered tracks in the snow which the Sherpas insisted belonged to the Yeti.

On two occasions, in 1953 and again in 1978, he heard the creature’s high-pitched call, accompanied by more footprints in the snow at high altitude (15,000-20,000 ft), which is far beyond the habitat of the Himalayan black and red bears. The tracks found in 1978 were so fresh that Hunt was able to see a clear impression of the toes, convincing him that the prints accurately represented the actual shape and size of the Yeti foot, about 13 ¾ inches long and 6 ¾ inches broad (compare this to a man with size 44 shoes having a print length of 11 ½ inches).

Following his initial Everest expedition in 1953, Lord Hunt is on record in Charles Stonor’s 1955 book, The Sherpa and the Snowman, as saying ‘And I believe in the Yeti. I have seen his tracks, heard his yelping call, listened to first-hand experiences of reputable local people. . . That evidence will be produced sooner or later, sufficient to convince the doubters, is beyond doubt.’

After a trip to Peking with a Parliamentary delegation, Hunt expanded on his views that the Yeti exists in an article printed in The Sunday Express (June 28, 1981): ‘I talked to experts in Peking and discovered that the Chinese are doing a lot of research into this mystery. They showed me photographs of footprints found in China and Russia and they are remarkably similar to ones I have seen in the Himalayas. Now I’m even more convinced there is a very strong case in favour of the animal’s existence. It is definitely not a bear. It looks more like an ape and the Chinese believe it could be a primitive form of man.’

This is a theory that some researchers believe explains what happened to the Neanderthals which lived alongside our Homo sapiens ancestors before disappearing into thin air and out of human history once and for all. As Shackley wrote, ‘The idea that Neanderthal man must be extinct because modern man can be the only surviving hominid is outmoded biological arrogance.’[ii]

Author and Professor of human genetics at Oxford University Bryan Sykes wrote, ‘It now seems as though our Homo sapiens ancestors shared the planet with several other human species and even interbred with them. The notion that there could be parts of the earth where these other humans survive to this day, either as a completely separate species or as a type of genetic hybrid, does not seem anywhere as ridiculous as once it did.’ [iii]

Author Michael Cremo believes that if one studies the relevant fossil data, evidence reveals the presence of contemporaneous living between human and ape-types; ‘when all the evidence, including that for very ancient humans and living ape-men, is objectively evaluated, the pattern that emerges is one of a continuing coexistence rather than a sequential evolution.’[iv]

So is it possible that the hominoids are the native indigenous bipeds of planet Earth? The split from quadruped primates to bipedal primates certainly took place as modern science decrees, but the descendants may not be us but the hominoids.

Could Sasquatch, Yeti and their counterparts actually be their living descendants instead of us? They certainly fit the model physically much more than modern humans, as the reported descriptions of these mysterious creatures confirm.

‘Having to accept hominoids as real will require having to acknowledge that the pre-human fossil record is comprised entirely of their bones, rather than ours. That admission will then force each of us – including, however reluctantly, all Darwinists and Creationists – to confront a truly awesome question: Where did humans come from?’[v]

But before science will even begin to ask these questions, they first need to recognise the existence of these mysterious large bipeds which have been spotted inhabiting the remotest parts of our planet.

As author Lloyd Pye stated, ‘Right now science and religion stand united against hominoids, with scientists carrying the brunt of responsibility for keeping them ridiculed out of existence. However, as soon as one is brought in, those same scientists will be forced to publicly take their lumps and accommodate the new reality.’

This article is an extract from the Living Hominids chapter in The Myth Of Man by JP Robinson.


[ii] Shackley, Myra – Still Living? - Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma, Thames & Hudson, 1983.

[iii] Sykes, Bryan - The Nature of the Beast – the first scientific evidence on the survival of apemen into modern times, Coronet, 2015.

[iv] Cremo, Michael A. and Thompson, Richard L. – The Hidden History of The Human Race, Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, 1996.

[v] Pye, Lloyd – Everything You Know Is Wrong - Book One: Human Origins, Authors Choice Press, 1997.


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