Author and Everest summiteer Graham Hoyland found the inspiration to write this entertaining book on a climbing expedition to Gangar Punsum, the world’s highest unclimbed peak, which rises in Bhutan on the Tibetan border.
After having reached 16,400 feet, Hoyland spotted a set of footprints in the snow, larger than human size. ‘Was some large predator lurking behind one of the huge boulders that were scattered around the Lost Valley?’ he wonders. ‘Could this be the mythical beast that is spoken of all along the Himalaya: the Abominable Snowman, or yeti?’
There is no scientific proof that such a beast exists, despite photos of strange 12-inch-long tracks in the snow taken in 1951 by climbers Eric Shipton and Michael Ward. Hoyland decided to disentangle myth from reality. Eminences such as Sir David Attenborough have given credence to the possible presence of such an undiscovered beast.
"After all, we have only identified some 20 per cent of the estimated ten million living species on our planet"
Reinhold Messner was likewise convinced of the yeti’s existence.
Alas, readers expecting Hoyland to come up with sensational evidence of a 12-foot-tall monster roaming the Himalaya will come away disappointed. The author takes the less dramatic view that the sightings of yetis are of bears, not apes. But as he points out in this delightful romp through the history of yeti-spotting, mythical beasts have always exercised a fascination on the human mind, from Grendel in the Old English poem Beowulf, to fanciful creatures in Alice in Wonderland and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Hoyland explains that even in our day, people are all too often reluctant to allow facts to stand in the way of a more appealing version of reality. The yeti is more to do with the appetite for a good story, often mixed with tribal legend, than finding the truth. This is something which the author, taking it right to the present, rightly states we now call fake news.