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Yeti expedition not abominable to climbers (UPDATED!!)


by Unknown

August 07, 2003

Tokyo - A Japanese expedition equipped with sensor-activated cameras and led by an amateur cryptozoologist is heading to the Himalayas hoping to track down the abominable snowman.

Seven climbers will spend six weeks in Nepal trying to capture images of the legendary humanlike creature also known as the yeti, several thousand metres up the world's seventh-tallest mountain, the expedition's leader, Yoshiteru Takahashi, said on Thursday.

Takahashi, a 60-year-old construction company employee who climbs as a hobby, is on his second yeti hunt. He says he found humanlike footprints made by a "rather large animal" in a cave about 4,600m up Dhaulagiri on a previous expedition in 1994.

"I want to find out what made those footprints." Takahashi said. "They definitely didn't belong to a bear."

The expedition, which leaves on Sunday, plans to "ambush" the elusive creature - which Takahashi believes is some kind of primate - by setting up about 15 cameras that are automatically activated by infrared sensors.

Takahashi described his expedition, which has no backing from Japan's academic community, as "just bunch of climbers" who had all seen unfamiliar footprints on past ascents of the Dhaulagiri range.

"I don't consider this a mystery," he said. "The yeti exists - I just want to figure out what kind of animal it is." - Sapa-AP

The last time climber Yoshiteru Takahashi found what he believes is the lair of the elusive yeti, high in the Himalayas, his camera developed a fault due to the altitude and extreme cold. But he is confident that this time around he will finally prove the "abominable snowman" exists.

On the flanks of 6,273-meter Myagdi-Matha, Yoshiteru Takahashi monitors cameras during a 1994 trip to Nepal in search of the yeti. PHOTO COURTESY OF YOSHITERU TAKAHASHIPhoto: On the flanks of 6,273-meter Myagdi-Matha, Yoshiteru Takahashi monitors cameras during a 1994 trip to Nepal in search of the yeti. PHOTO COURTESY OF YOSHITERU TAKAHASHI

Takahashi arrived in Katmandu on Sunday and is making final preparations before leaving the Nepalese capital on his quest.

"Many people say they have seen the yeti, but still we have no clear photo of it," said Takahashi, a 60-year-old painter and decorator from Tokyo.

"I have climbed the Dhaulagiri (White Mountain) massif four times, and every time, I saw footprints of the yeti. In 1971, one of my expedition members saw one of these creatures.

"It looked like a gorilla and stood only 15 meters away from him, watching him, for about 40 seconds," Takahashi said. "It was about 150 cm tall and stood on its hind legs, like a man. Its head was covered with long, thick hair and he was certain it was not a bear or a monkey."

On another expedition to the same region in 1994, Takahashi discovered what he describes as a "bolt-hole," a natural cave that stretched back 5 meters into a rock face at 5,000 meters above sea level.

"Animals had definitely visited the cave and there were more of the footprints in the snow around the mouth of the cavern," he said. Unfortunately, his camera failed and he couldn't record his find.

The 1971 sighting was not the only one in that area, he said, as a British team spotted a similar animal nearby in 1974. Tracking down the habitat will allow Takahashi's team to set up along likely paths a series of infrared cameras that will be triggered by movement sensors.

"I believe the yeti is a very sensitive animal that is easily scared," Takahashi said. "I don't think it will emerge in daylight if humans are nearby. That means it will move around early in the morning, at dusk and at night, which means it will be close to impossible for us to shoot video or photos of a yeti.

"I plan to set up a series of nine infrared cameras that will be set off automatically if anything passes in front of them," he said. "At the moment, we are making detailed plans about where to site them, as the area is obviously vast. Places where footprints have been sighted previously are our best bet and we hope the creature that made those tracks will use the same paths."

With logistic support from a Japanese newspaper, Takahashi is setting out with a team of six other climbers. They plan to stake out the flanks of the 8,167-meter Dhaulagiri, which Takahashi scaled in 1975 and 1982, for two months.

An expedition to find the yeti in 1994 was prompted by the earlier discoveries of footprints that he describes as being similar to those of a human child and measuring up to 20 cm long. He also said he could smell the creatures' musty, animal odor.

"The footprints that I saw were similar to the one photographed by British explorers Eric Shipton and Michael Ward in 1951," Takahashi said.

Found in the Gauri Shankar pocket, those prints were fresh when the mountaineers chanced upon them. The trail continued for nearly 2 km until it finally disappeared on hard ice.

"The ones I found were smaller and thinner, more like a human foot, with an arch between the heel and the toes," Takahashi said. "There are no animals that leave that sort of track."

Known locally as the "migou" or "bongamanche," meaning "man of the forest," people have been trying to track the creature down for a century.

One of the first reliable reports came from N.A. Tombazi, a Greek photographer accompanying a 1925 British geological expedition, who claimed to have spotted the creature above the 3,000-meter mark. Tombazi described an ape clearly resembling a human being, "walking upright and stopping here and there to pull at some dwarf rhododendron bushes."

Another report was filed in 1938 by a Captain d'Auvergue, curator of Calcutta's Victoria Memorial, who had temporarily lost his vision in a snowstorm.

He would have died of hypothermia in the blizzard, he said, if a 3-meter tall figure had not sheltered him from the worst of it. When he recovered sufficiently to get a sense of his surroundings, the creature had disappeared.

A 10-month expedition in the Khumbu Valley involving Sir Edmund Hillary in 1960 turned up two scraps of skin that were believed to be from a yeti, but later analysis indicated they were of the rare Tibetan blue bear, while a skull turned out to be remarkably similar to that of the serow goat.

A scalp preserved in a monastery near Namche Bazar in Nepal, better known as the Yeti of Khumjung, is touted as the only authentic specimen, donated by a Lama who had stumbled across it near a village called Pangboche.

The rare specimen, having been stolen once, is now kept under lock and key in a glass container. Reddish-brown in color, the scalp is about 20 cm high with a thick head of hair parted and brushed back from the center. Scientists, however, have questioned its authenticity.

Takahashi accepts that if he does prove that the yeti is roaming the Himalayas, he has a responsibility to protect it. "If we are successful and positively identify the yeti, then we must also recognize its worth," he said. "I imagine that if we do photograph one, it won't be good for the yeti itself, so, as the person who found it, I will do my best to protect the animal. That is a very important task."

The Japan Times: Aug. 14, 2003

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