Truth can blow in the wind. High in the Himalaya Mountain range of Nepal and Sikkim there are many winds and truths. One is the truth of the existence of the Yeti.
I had ridden motorcycles halfway around the world to see Yeti. The trip had been a long strange ride, taking me deep into the forest of the Olympics, Cascades and Rocky Mountains of North America, through the steaming jungles of Brazil, the dark, cold and dripping woods of Europe's Black Forest, then finally the bone chilling Himalayas of Nepal and Sikkim.
The price to hunt Yeti (with a camera) was higher than I could afford. I first needed a Special Permit from the dollar greedy government to enter the trekking area known to host most of the Yeti sightings over the years. Then I needed to pay for sherpa guides, a government official to accompany me, and finally several porters to carry my gear. I was looking at paying more for a week of humping my motorcycle, gear and myself over the Himalayas than I had paid to get it halfway around the world. An approved expedition or guided tour was out of my financial reach unless I wanted to return to America by walking, swimming and not eating along the way.
Not wanting to part with mega dollars, I resorted to some warrior tools of my ancestors of the Crow Indian Nation: cunning and survival skills. My plan was to hire a couple of sherpa guides and several porters at a local mountain climbing bar, load them up with my gear and supplies, and send them into the mountains well ahead of me, thereby getting around my being on a guided tour and thus needing a permit or government official. I would follow on my lightened motorcycle, which could well handle the trails unburdened, up to 20,000 feet above sea level, where we would rendezvous. This was far higher than any Yeti sightings had been recorded. From there we could sneak down on the Yetis from above, a secret Old Indian Trick often used to capture White Eyes during the Indian Wars of America. (While the White Eyes were watching the valleys below the Indians could easily sneak up on them from the rear and count coups before the White Eyes knew they were in danger. Like the White Eyes, the Yeti would be watching trails and approaches from the valleys below.) My plan was to skinny down on the Yeti from above and count coup with a camera after drawing them out of their caves with some Yeti bait.
Yetis have been around for a long time. In 1472 a Bavarian, John Schitsberger, mentioned the presence of a large fur-covered man that roamed the high mountains of Mongolia. As early as 1820 abominable snowmen have been noted, then by J. B. Fraser, who called it a "Bang" which most believe meant "Kangmi" and referred to snowmen. The giant Himalayan humanoid came into the limelight in 1921 and has since been the subject of much controversy, myths and investigation. Over the years numerous sightings have been recorded, some by unquestionable sources. In 1951 Eric Shipton photographed footprints in the Menlung glacier that to this day cannot be attributed to any animal or man. Undoubtedly they were Yeti tracks.
Probably one of the most famous "Nay Sayers" to Yeti was Sir Edmund Hillary, purportedly the first human to reach the summit of Mount Everest. As a witness to his record setting event he had his famous sherpa guide, Tenzin Norgkey. Later (from 1960-1961) Hillary wandered around the Himalayas on a paid expedition in an unsuccessful search for Yeti. At the end of his failed search he proclaimed Yeti did not exist in other than myth because he did not see one. However, Tenzin Norgkey, who the world relied upon to attest to the fact that Hillary and not he, Tenzin, was the first to set foot atop Mt. Everest, claims to have seen two Yetis in his younger years, the first in 1946, the second in 1952. Who to believe? Hillary, because he did not find one, or Tenzin, who claimed not one, but two sightings.
Other sightings seem to indicate Hillary may have spent too much time in the lights of the press or at high altitude. In July 1974 a young Sherpa girl, age 18, reported being attacked by a Yeti. A police investigation found Yeti footprints and five dead yaks that had been killed by having their necks broken from twisting their heads, a practice attributed to Yeti over the years.
The Sherpa people believe there are three types of Yeti. The first, a small man-like ape, that is ominous, called Drema or Telma. The second type appears as a huge bear and preys on sheep, goats and yaks that it kills by catching hold of their horns and twisting until their necks snap. This is the Chutti. The third type is the Mite or Midre, which has reddish fur and whose forehead is covered with long hair, walks on its hind legs and snuffs yaks the same way as the Chutti. The Mite Yeti has also been known to attack other animals and sometimes humans. This third Yeti was the one I had in my sights.
Modern day Yetiologists submit that the Yeti and the Sasquatch are related, the Sasquatch having been Yeti that crossed the Bering Straights when there was a land bridge between Russia and Alaska. This would explain the numerous similarities between the two, as well as support American Indian stories of Windygo. The Russian News Agency TASS, in about 1986, reported that strange animals similar to Yeti had been seen at Yakut, North of Siberia.
I had done extensive research on Yeti and knew they would not be easy to find. The Yeti I was seeking live at an altitude of between 3,353 meters to 5,486 meters, but generally stay below the snowline. They have a five-digit foot with a pronounced big toe, walk upright, and are fur covered, nocturnal and afraid of humans. Yeti make a cry or bark much like that of a cough, but much louder. If being chased by a Yeti, experts say running downhill is the best way to evade them. The female Yeti have large breasts that hang down to their stomachs, thus have to cradle them or throw them over their shoulders, thereby slowing them down. The hair of the male Yeti blows in its eyes when running, so they cannot see well, slowing them down. Usual Yeti sightings have the elusive beasts going away from humans.
My research came across some history of the people of the Solukhumbu Valley who had been harassed by several Yeti. They finally asked their Chief Lama for help and protection. He instructed the villagers to return the next morning with knives and pots of chhang (rice beer). The Lama led the people to a cave where they were told to leave their knives and pots of beer, and then return home. During the night the villagers heard crying, hooting, shouting, gnarling and screams coming from the area of the cave. In the morning when they returned they found several of the Yeti dying from stab wounds, the rest having left the area. It seems Yeti has a fondness for beer and become uncontrollable after drinking too much.
The initial Yeti attack I planned incorporated several components of the Lama's scheme. I would find a cave frequented by Yeti. After dark we would sneak down on it from above, place several pots of rice beer in front, and wait through the night nearby with my cameras. When the Yeti came out of the cave to drink the beer I would photograph them.
The plan was finalized in a small, musty, smoke filled mountain climber's bar, well away from the money hungry eyes of government officials. Inside dark eyed sherpa guides and porters were numbing the pains of tired backs and strained legs by smoking hashish and opium while sipping beer. After a few hours of harmless tourist talk, I felt safe enough to propose my expedition and suggest a level of payment. The guides and porters smoked and drank more, upped the price, and made a few suggestions. I showed them how to use my cameras and they drew a map. Logistically the plan was kept simple, thus reducing or eliminating any chance for error or failure. It was finalized with handshakes, toasts and the exchange of some up front money. For bait, we agreed a good supply of beer would need to be carried out of the bar and into the mountains. The Yeti baiting could take several attempts.
Through a dreamy, smoke-like Himalayan fog we traveled separately, covering miles of high mountain footpaths and animal trails. We rendezvoused in the last minutes of daylight above a large crack in the face of a cliff that led downward into a black cave. Spoor and broken twigs indicated something large lived inside, a bear or possibly a Yeti. After dusk a parameter was established in the bushes around the crack and several large pots of the rice beer were placed near the entrance. With flashlights and cameras we settled in for the night.
In the Himalayas in December it is cold, bone numbing cold. As soon as the sun goes down, the temperature drops below freezing. To keep warm we could not make a fire, so we drank rice beer. One thing my research did not uncover is that some Sherpa people believe the mere sight of a Yeti causes death. My sherpa guides fell into this category, becoming visibility nervous as darkness and the thick fog engulfed us and the possible Yeti sighting approached.
Another thing my research did not uncover was that some sherpa guides consume large quantities of rice beer. Seemingly, massive consumption reduces their nervousness. My sherpa guides fell into this group, accompanied by the porters. By midnight half of my Sherpas and porters were asleep, the other half happily swilled. The rice beer was strong and I had not drank alcohol for weeks as I passed through India, so I was soon close to those passed out and those happily smiling into the emptiness of the night. The only sounds heard were muffled snoring and liquids passing. Not one of us was nervous.
Suddenly something crashed outward through bushes of the parameter on my left. We heard several deep coughs and the breaking branches of scrub brush. Everyone was immediately awake. Flashlights were turned on and the beams wildly swirled around the semicircle of our parameter. My second camera, operated by one of the sherpa guides, brightly flashed. The night was like a silent Star Wars shootout as flashlight beams crisscrossed our fog shrouded semicircle and a second flash from the sherpa's camera made the gray wall of fog white.
A porter let out a loud "umph" as something stepped on his stomach and forced the wind out of him. Someone or something ran into me as I was trying to stand up, knocking the camera out of my right hand. I crashed sideways into the porter on my left and both of us fell to the ground. I yelled repeatedly to the sherpa who had my second camera, "Take the picture, take the picture!" My own camera was useless. It had broken open when it hit the ground. It seemed forever until a flash lit the night the third time. I knew the batteries of the second camera had to recharge between flashes, but I kept screaming to take another photo anyway. I yelled until I was out of breath. A fourth flash want off, then the night was left to wandering flashlight beams. We could see nothing of whatever had crashed through us.
When daylight came we collected other pieces of my broken camera, one smashed flashlight and the empty pots of rice beer. Broken bushes showed where the suspected Yeti had run through our parameter. We all had hangovers from the rice beer, bad hangovers. Another fact my research failed to uncover was that rice beer gives an after-buzz headache like the head kick from a buffalo undergoing castration. Out of Yeti bait, brain and body bruised, we returned to our expedition - planning base. Again sitting in the smoke filled bar, nursing a massive headache with more beer, the happening in the fog of the Himalayas focused and unfocused. In focus, I thought I could smell and feel what ran into me, unfocused, it seemed as if I had never ridden into the mountains, as if I was still sitting there, again making plans.
I did not see what hit me. It was dark and I had no chance to take a photograph or turn my flashlight on it. My camera was broken. The four exposed frames on the other camera held by the sherpa guide have pictures of the black night. The same four pictures could have been taken in the opium smoke filled bar by some drugged Sherpa experimenting with my camera.
In summery I can say I did not get a photograph or see a Yeti. That does not make me doubt they exist, as Hillary would claim given my position. Rather, I remember several live "things" running through us. I was knocked over and a day later had the headache to prove it. At six feet three inches tall and 200 pounds heavy, knocking me over takes some doing. No small monkey or even a medium sized jungle cat is going to roll me over. I was hit in the upper right shoulder and forehead by something big and strong. It could not have been a bear, as it would have made contact with me much lower on my body. Yaks do not live as high as we were high in the mountains, especially in the winter, so that ruled out a yak attack. The entire event is still a haunting one.
Merely because no one has photographed a Yeti or captured one does not mean they do not exist. No one saw an atom long before we had microscopes strong enough to see them, but wise people knew the truth of their existence.
I submit to the scientific community that Yeti is out there, not as fiction or myth, but as fact. That is this truth blowing in the winds from me, high. in the Himalayas.
Dr. Gregory W. Frazier
On this 1st day of the year 2001
July 27, 2000, Going Out Again - 'Round The World
October 4, 2000, Why Another Long Ride, The Plan, and Mr. Fish
October 10, 2000, the beginning, in America on an Indian
November 6, 2000, AMAZONAS-Tamed By Beasts in Brazil
November 22, 2000, Monster Cow, Wolpertinger and Autobahn Crawling Across Europe
December 22, 2000, Enfield 500 Bullet, India Motorcycle Dementia, Ozoned Harley-Davidsons and Gold Wings
December 25, 2000, Yeti on a Harley-Davidson, Nepal By Enfield, No Carnet Sexpedition
January 1, 2001, Haunting Yeti
January 25, 2001, Monkey Soccer, Asian Feet, Air 'em Up: Bhutan and Sikkim
February 12, 2001, Midgets, Carnetless, Steve McQueen on Enfield, Bangladesh
February 20, 2001, Higgledypiggledy, Salacity, and Zymurgy - India
March 20, 2001, Road warriors, sand, oil leaks - meditating out of India
April 8, 2001, Bike Cops, Elephants, and Same-Same - Thailand
May 1, 2001, Little Bikes, Millions of Bikes, Island Riding - Taiwan
May 15, 2001, Harley-Davidson, Mother Road and Super Slabs - America
June 8 , 2001, Crossing The Crazy Woman With A Harley-Davidson, Indian, BMW, Amazonas, Enfield, Hartford, SYM, Honda
January 1, 2002, Donged, Bonged, and Gonged - Burma
January 20, 2002, Secrets of The Golden Triangle - Thailand
March 31, 2002, Bear Wakes, Aims Green Machine Around The World
April 10, 2002, Moto Cuba - Crashes, Customs and El Jefe (Fidel)
May 20, 2002, Europe and The Roads South to Africa
June 10, 2002, Morocco Motorcycling, Thieves and Good Roads
July 30, 2002, Russia – Hard and Soft, By Motorcycle
August 30, 2002, USA – American Roadkill, Shipping Bikes and BIG DOGS
September 30, 2002, Good Times Roll Home, Riding With Clothes On, Team Green - USA
November, 2002, Mexico By Motorcycle - Gringos, Little Norman Bad Cock, and Bandits
March 2003, Laos by motorcycle - Guerrillas, Mekong Beering, and Plain of Coffins
July, 2003, Alaska by motorcycle – Deadhorse, Fish Story and Alaskan Bush
January 2004, Angkor, Bombed Out Roads and Dog Eaters - Cambodia
April, 2004, Minsking, Uncle Ho and Snake Wine
August 2004, Around The World Again, 1st Tag Deadhorse
February 2005, Colombia To The End Of The Earth - South America
January 2006, My Marriage, Long Strange Ride, Montana Nights
May 2006, Cherry Girls, Rebels, Crash and Volcano - Philippines
September 2006, Break Bike Mountain Ride – United States
March 2007, Kawasaki Cult Bike “No Stranger To Danger Expedition” - Thailand and Cambodia
November 2007, Lone Wolf Wanders: Bears, Moose, Buffalo, Fish
April 2009, Global Adventure Roaming: Burma through the USA to headhunters on Borneo
February 2010, Adventure Motorcycle Travel: Expedition to Alaska, then Java
Copyright © Dr. Gregory W. Frazier. 1999- All Rights Reserved.
Thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author,
and not necessarily Horizons Unlimited