Tag Archive | "Tibet"

The Abominable Snowman: Fact or Fiction?

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Whether out of pure curiosity or the desire to exploit, mankind has always been drawn to that which lies beneath the surface of things, waiting to be ferreted out and explored.  One of these not so little mysteries is the Abominable Snowman, a.k.a. The Yeti: a gigantic and intriguing creature that allegedly hails from Tibet.

At the top of the world, Tibet on Mount Everest lies shrouded in clouds and mystique.  It is home to the Dalai Lama and pious monks who commune directly, through meditation, prayer, and fasting, with God.  It is also home to a number of odd creatures and as such, seems a perfect place for the fabled beast to dwell.

The men who first climbed to the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, are credited with initiating the global hubbub that still surrounds the mythical Yeti and enthralls us all.   In 1885, the mountain’s summit was declared the highest point in the world and therefore, the penultimate challenge to adventurers from the United Kingdom.   Between the years 1921 and 1952, seven attempts were organized to conquer the peak.  All failed.  In 1953, a man named John Hunt commissioned two pairs of climbers, who came close.  The first pair, Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, got within 300 feet of the summit, but was forced to turn back due to exhaustion.  The air at such altitudes is extremely thin; it is also terribly cold.

Bourdillon and Evans had blazed a trail and had left stores of oxygen along the way, thus enabling the second pair of climbers to gain the summit.  At 11:30 AM on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa climber from Nepal, gained Mount Everest’s peak.  The accomplishment resulted in Hillary’s knighting and Tenzing’s honoring via the George Medal.

The night before the historic climb, it is rumored that Hillary and Tenzing lay huddled in a tent close to the summit.  Although they were fast asleep, a sudden odor assaulted their nostrils, so strong, that they were awakened by it!  At the crack of dawn, they searched the area around the tent, seeking evidence of a visitor.  But the 80 mile-per-hour winds destroyed whatever evidence may have existed.  After the climb, the two men questioned the local people with the help of an interpreter. 

Although there was no hard evidence, the natives of Tibet testified that the strange Yeti had lived amongst them for centuries.  They described it as a gigantic creature that walked upright, like a man, and was covered with brownish-red hair.  The Yeti earned the nickname “Abominable” because of its horrific odor. Think: a trip to a horse stable, and then multiple that stench by ten (at least). 

Word of the illusive creature soon leaked to the so-called civilized world, and like all good Englishmen, Sir Hillary wished to serve his Queen by capturing the beast and carting it back home for the world to admire and make a fast buck on.  He enlisted the aid of the locals, offering enticements for their help.  After a two-month search, Hillary was rewarded with a 50-pound bag of so-called authentic frozen Yeti droppings, and this is no bull.  Only a nose such as Al Pacino’s character in Scent of a Woman would have been qualified to differentiate between the scat of the Yeti, the wild Tibetan yak, and the wild Tibetan horse.  So who is to say who really dropped that load?

In the ensuing years, expeditions were formed to search for this creature, but every one of them came up empty-handed.   However, the legend continues both in Tibet and North America.  During the Ice Age, the area we now call the Bering Sea was frozen solid, forming a bridge between Asia and the North American continent.  The bridge allowed the migration of human and animal tribes, and may account for the reported sightings of our own version of the Yeti.  Dubbed Bigfoot by the white man and Sasquatch by the natives of Canada, this strange, offensively scented creature has also been reported in the swamplands of America’s Deep South.

Does Bigfoot really exist?  Does the Loch Ness Monster?  Do aliens (those from outer space, not south of the Rio Grande)?  Does the Jersey Devil exist?  With all of our science, we may never know for sure.  The only thing certain is that these mysteries make for good conversation over a drink or two and keep life interesting. 

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