April 29, 2013

Blogging From A to Z April Challenge Day Twenty-Five: Y is for Yeti

Yeti, otherwise called the Abominable Snowman, has been the object of great speculation and even ridicule throughout recent history. Even thought Yeti is referenced constantly in popular culture, I have found there is much the average person understands about this famous cryptid and the legends surrounding it.

First off, did you know that during the Eisenhower administration the United States Federal Government had an official protocol for anyone hiking in the Himalayas that came across Yeti? The protocol had long since been forgotten until a government archivist found it again not that long ago. What was the protocol? To capture but not kill the creature unless it tried to harm them. Right. We all learned long ago from Luke Skywalker that you have to get the drop on Yeti with your light saber, otherwise you'll find yourself hanging upside down in an improvised meat locker. People also had to apply for a Yeti hunting license and they were required to take a picture of the creature alive before shooting it dead (if that was necessary, of course). It was  an opportunity a shocking number of people could not resist, including one millionaire who sent three separate hunting parties to the Himalayas specifically to hunt down Yeti. Talk about obsession!

Why are people so obsessed with Yeti? I think many of the reasons are the same as why people are obsessed with Bigfoot. Both creatures, if real, are potentially as intelligent as man. Just look at how easily they have escaped capture for such a long time! In a way Yeti would supply a missing link of a type, helping all of us understand who we are as a species.

As I've written about before, just about every culture has its wild man legends. The interesting thing is there are quite a few parallels between these wild men stories and different accounts of people spotting and interacting with both Yeti and Bigfoot. You can read more about that connection here.

So back to Yeti specifically. The Himalayas are quite remote mountains that are incredibly rugged. Remember that Mount Everest is part of the range. Centuries ago indigenous peoples in the region believed in a "god of the hunt" or a "wild man" that lived in the mountains. This god-like creature was hairy and carried a giant rock as a weapon, as well as made a whooshing sound with its mouth to scare away intruders in its territory. This creature was regarded as so mystical that some religious groups in the region believed that using some of its blood in their ceremonies would make their magic extra potent.

Since then both European and American explorers have spotted a strange, hairy creature in the Himalayas. Some of these explorers wrote the creature off as a misplaced ape of some sort, such as an orangutan while others dismissed it as a bear or as a loping wolf.

The frequency of Yeti sightings increased in the 20th Century as more western explorers and mountain climbers spent time in the high elevations where many locals fear to tread. So the question still remains if the large footprints found in the snow, the grainy pictures and the many eyewitness accounts spread out over the decades are enough evidence to conclude that Yeti really exists. What do you think? Is Yeti a possibility or is it something else?


L. Diane Wolfe said...

I believe it could exist, same as Bigfoot. My husband teases me about that, but I grew up in the Pacific NW and Bigfoot was just part of the culture.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Despite the harsh climate and conditions of the area, you'd still think we'd have proof by now.

Steven said...

Diane, you're not alone in your belief. There is a professor at Boise State University that claims Bigfoot is quite possible. His research is interesting, to say the least.

Alex, apparently there are large swaths of the mountains there that are largely unexplored, so who knows?

Julia King said...

There's a book on my list to read called "Bad Yeti" by Carrie Harris. I've wondered what a Yeti is because of the mentioned book. Now I know. Interesting animal.

Robin said...

The fact that there was actually a protocol in the Eisenhower Administration does lend some credence to the fact that *someone* thought the Yeti existed. So, I am open to the idea. As you say, there is a lot of ground out there that is simply inaccessible. If I were a Yeti (and fairly intelligent), I know I would stay as far away from humans as possible. Just sayin.'

Steven said...

Julia, now you know about Yeti!

Robin, I thought the same thing about the protocol. Having grown up around mountains, I can tell you a person could hide out in tall, rugged ones like the Himalayas for a long time and avoid detection if that person were familiar with the area. I think for people who spend all of their time in concrete jungles this concept is a little bit harder to grasp.

VR Barkowski said...

I presume if Yeti exists, eventually someone will get a clear photo. Same with Big Foot—even if neither being is ever captured (which, thinking of Planet of the Apes, would be a horrible shame). I imagine anyone who sees the compelling Robert Bateman pic you posted just might be brought around to the possibility of Yeti's existence.

VR Barkowski

Steven said...

VR, I like the connection with Planet of the Apes. That gives me much to think about...