She only thinks she knows about monsters – monsters in the closet, monsters under the bed, and the ones in the dark corners of her mind. Yeah, yeah, yeah – she talks about the elevator nightmares as a child, the Nazi-war criminal dentist who, coincidentally, was related to the elevator nightmares, spiders of all shapes and sizes, her current battle with a monster called processed sugar (which she is now winning – 9 days without processed sugars!), and many other monsters (skeletons?) in the closet of that she doesn’t want to confront. Are these real or only imaginary monsters? And yet, I am a real monster. One that she has only heard about, but has never met. Wait until I come face-to-face with her, and she will know what a monster truly is. I am a real, live monster. I am Yeti!!!
We Yetis are nocturnal creatures of the high Himalaya Mountains. The Himalayas lie on the border between India, Nepal, and Tibet (now part of China). They are remote and forbidding mountains. Large stretches of these rough valleys and high glacial peaks are uninhabited. The tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest, 29,028 feet high, lays half in Nepal, half in China. It is from Nepal, though, that most attempts to climb Everest, and the surrounding mountains, are made. And so that is where most of the stories about us come from.
Standing between seven and eight feet tall, we Yetis can weigh over 450 pounds (200 kg). Some of the more vertically challenged are only five and a half feet tall. We are our own species – the Yeti. Some humans think that we are half-man/half-ape, with dark or reddish long hair all over our body. Just like humans, we have some that are albino, or totally white, but that is rare in our species. We live high on the glaciers in the mountains, between 14,000 and 20,000 feet. We aren’t very sociable, so are pretty elusive; we are heavily built, apelike, hairy, and malodorous (who said that?), with facial features resembling those of humans; and we communicate by grunts, cries, or whistles – I especially do a lot of whistling. Our name, Yeti, comes from the Sherpa language, and means “creature of the glacier”, and from the Tibetan word “yeh-the”, which means “little man-like animal”. Some translations of the Tibetan say it means, “magical creature”. Just like most rare species, we ‘think’ we are magical. Maybe we are. Some humans erroneously call us the Abominable Snowmen, -- that was just a bad translation from the Tibetan.
According to Tibetans in Nepal, stories about us Yeti date back to the 4th century BC when references to us are found in a poem called “Rama and Sita”. The belief in the Yeti is universal among Tibetans and Nepali. The government of Nepal officially declared the Yeti to exist in 1961 (we always knew that we existed). And the Yeti became one of their national symbols, and an important source of income, as they named a big hotel, “Yak and Yeti”. Even Tintin has a book about us!
While we like to avoid humans, sometimes they have seen us, or they have followed our tracks. As early as 1832, humans documented that they have seen us. Honestly, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Humans wonder if we are real. Of course we are real! They wonder if we aren’t just an oversized hairy human, or that they are mistaking us for a ‘real’ animal. They wonder if we are only mythical creatures. All they have to do is take time out of their busy lives, and then they will know for sure who, and what, we are. But we don’t want to spend time with humans, as they talk all the time, have funny white things in their ears that plays music, and leave their garbage all over the mountains. We like our privacy, and we really want to keep it that way.
Many expeditions have been led in the Himalayas to search for us but nothing has been found. Even Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to successfully climb Mt. Everest, searched for us. He invited several scientists to join him. They didn’t find anything. Ha! Despite lack of proof, people who believe in us insist that there could be an undiscovered animal living in the remote parts of these mountains. (Well, duh!) Some think that we are part spirit and part animal. Still others believe we are the result of the imagination gone wild (now they are talking). All over the world there are stories about the Wild Man in China, Bigfoot or Sasquatch in the United States and Canada, Ngoloko in Africa, and Kaptar in Europe. All of these creatures have the same features: a cone-shaped head, long hair, bad body odor, huge feet, and the ability to walk upright. Are we related? Would I tell you?
One time, in about 1950, there was this mountain climber named Eric Shipton. He saw my grandfather’s fresh footprints, as my grandfather was out for his afternoon walk and didn’t expect climbers up at 20,000 feet of elevation. Grandpa told us the story of how he ran over the pass as fast as he could, so he wouldn’t be spotted. When he got to hard glacial ice, his footprints couldn’t be seen anymore, and that is where those mountain climbers lost his tracks. Wow! What an exciting time for Grandpa! Then again, in 1953, those two men who first climbed Mt. Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, they also saw Grandpa’s footprints. Again, it was around 20,000 feet high, so Grandpa didn’t expect humans to be around. From then on, we had to be more careful about being spotted.
Then that girl, ‘her’, who has all those imaginary monsters that I first talked about, came to Nepal in 1982. She heard the story of my cousin, who attacked the Sherpa girl, Lhakpa, a few years earlier. The story that ‘the girl’ heard was that a Yeti attacked Lhakpa, picked her up and threw her around, and attacked some of her yaks, even killing and eating parts of them. Lhakpa said that there was no reason whatsoever for the unprovoked attack. Well, there is another side to the story, and the story my cousin told is a lot different. My cousin said that Lhakpa and her brothers were throwing boulders at him, so he ran towards them, to scare them a little. Lhakpa actually fell down and hit her head on a rock, -- that’s why she was unconscious. And her brothers ran away crying because they were afraid. My cousin ate only a little of the yaks, just to scare away Lhakpa and her brothers, and to keep them from ever coming close again.
There have been many well-financed expeditions to see if we really exist. These humans really need to spend their money on other things, like cleaning up the hiking trails. Humans have turned up little positive evidence of our existence, although one expedition found a hair sample that, and after DNA analysis, it could not be matched to any known animal. Others have found parasites on our hair, scalp, and hand samples that can’t be identified. And since parasites are specific to each particular species of animals, if they can’t identify the parasite, they can’t identify the animal.
So far there is no firm scientific evidence to support the existence of our species, the Yeti, but there is no way show that we doesn't exist either. Many humans have never seen a snow leopard, and yet, everyone knows that they exist. We live in the barren, frozen, upper reaches of the Himalayas where few humans dare to tread, so maybe our refuge will be safe for a long time to come.