Mythical Monday: Cryptozoology and the Yeti, by Mae Clair

It’s Mythical Monday! As I write this post, it’s a brisk Sunday afternoon but, by the time it publishes, my area will likely be in the midst of a snowstorm. Yes, a snowstorm. On the 25th day of March, when temperatures should be in the mid-50 range, the forecast is for 2 to 5 inches of snow, possibly more in some areas. Mother Nature clearly didn’t get the message to “spring forward” with the rest of us.

As a result, for today’s Mythical Monday, I dug up the “cold facts” on a creature who is fond of ice and snow—the Yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman. You probably remember the lumbering beast Bumble from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer who lost his vicious bite when Hermie the elf removed his teeth. Poor guy. Fortunately, he was a softie at heart and ended up putting the star on Santa’s Christmas tree.

But the real Abominable is an enormous ape-like creature residing in the harsh terrain of the Himalaya Mountains. Yeti communicate by a series of whistling sounds and shrieks. Because of their size and backward pointing feet their capacity for speed is limited, but what they lack in agility they more than make up in strength. These ginormous, muscular creatures are able to hurl large boulders which they use as a defense (not that I imagine they have many predators!).

Like Bigfoot, the Yeti is one of the most popular creatures in cryptozoology, having spawned numerous expeditions. Oddly, some believe spying a Yeti brings ill fortune, illness or even death. That hasn’t stopped researchers, however, from venturing into the creature’s cold, inhospitable domain.

Sir Edmond Hillary was probably the most famous. One of the first two men to climb Mt. Everest, he later led a 1960 expedition sponsored by the World book Encyclopedia. Despite been equipped with trip-wire cameras, infrared and time lapse photography, the expedition failed to find definitive proof of the Yeti’s existence. The group returned with pelts and a scalp later identified as belonging to a rare blue bear and a serow goat.

bigstock-Sagarmatha-National-Park-Nepa-37595326One man, however, professes to owe his life to the Yeti. Captain d’Auvergue, curator of the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, India experienced a bout of snow blindness while traversing the Himalayas alone in 1938. Suffering from exposure and on the brink of death, d’Auvergue claimed he was nursed back to health by a yeti.

Still the debate rages on. As with most famed creatures of cryptozoology—the Loch Ness Monster, Sasquatch, and the Colossal Squid (not to be confused with the Giant Squid)—the Yeti continues to inspire new research, dispute and speculation. I certainly don’t expect to see an Abominable in the 2 to 5 inches of snow forecast for my area, but on this cold and blustery Monday, the Yeti seemed a fitting mythical choice.

What is your favorite creature from cryptozoology or myth?