American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

The Abominable Snowman

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  • Publication Year: 1956

The Abominable Snowman, by Ralph Izzard. 250 pages, 26 photographs. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1955. Price $4.00.

The Abominable Snowman (Yeti) has a warm place in my heart because of a story my son told me. Some years ago he and some Sherpa porters were traversing a great snow slope in the Karakoram, where he heard piercing shrieks high above—"a woman wailing for her demon lover.” The Sherpas at once said: "It is a Yeti warning us to escape from this snow slope.” They put on all speed and as they reached the safety of the rocks the snow slope came away behind them in a great avalanche.

Yetis also have their bad side as well as their good, according to the stories of the Sherpas.

It is quite natural that we should want to know more about this existent or imaginary man or animal, sometimes a giant, sometimes a pygmy, sometimes beneficent, sometimes horrific, unseen by man—at least by any man who survived—living where nothing else can live and known only by tracks which may run forward or backward, and which, when followed, have led nowhere.

Mr. Izzard set out to find the facts. Under the auspices of the Daily Mail, he organized a full dress expedition, of nine members and nearly 300 porters, and spent four months, February to May, in and around Namche Bazar, and the area about Everest. The accomplishments? He saw many tracks which the Sherpas identified as Yeti tracks, accumulated many more stories (often contradictory) and saw two fur ceremonial caps, said to be 300-year-old Yeti scalps.

It is a merry book, full of humanity and may be recommended for a pleasant evening’s reading.

It is open to two criticisms: the two pictures of Yeti tracks are worthless, which is surprising as the expedition included a professional photographer and two assistants. There is no map, so it is impossible to understand the topography or follow the route unless one is personally familiar with the country or has access to a map in some other book.

Oscar R. Houston

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