October 21, 2008

Japanese Mountain Climbers Say They Found Yeti Footprints

Japanese climbers said on Tuesday they had found footprints on a mountain in western Nepal they think belonged to an abominable snowman or Yeti.

Kuniaki Yagihara, a member of the Yeti Project Japan, said they identified three footprints that looked like that of human beings in Kathmandu. The group returned from the mountain with photographs of the footprints.

However, the climbers, equipped with long-lens cameras, video cameras and telescopes, said that they did not see or take any photographs of the creature.

Largely regarded by the scientific community as a mythical creature, the Yeti is said to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal.

The creature's footprints were found on snow at an altitude of about 4,800 meters (15,748 feet) in the Dhaulagiri mountain range in western Nepal, according to Yagihara, 61.

"We know how the footprints of bear, deer and mountain goat look like and it was none of that," he said. "We believe it is that of Yeti."

With the support of Sherpas, Yagihara and his team spent six weeks on the lower reaches of the 7,661-meter (25,134-ft) Dhaulagiri IV looking for evidence of the beast's existence.

Since the 1920s, sherpas have spun tales of a wild hairy creature roaming the Himalayas, capturing the imagination of foreign climbers of Mount Everest. Those stories prompted many, including Sir Edmund Hillary, to carry out yeti hunts.

In august, two U.S. men claimed they had found the remains of a half-man, half-ape Bigfoot, which actually turned out to be a rubber gorilla suit.

Although other climbers claimed to have found Yeti footprints, no one has actually seen or produced irrefutable proof.

But many still believe the creatures exist.

"If I don't believe on Yeti I would never come," said Yagihara, the manager of a mountain museum in Japan.