Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In Search of the Abominable Snowman

Yeti hunters are no strangers to the icy wastes of Siberia and the Himalayas in search of this most elusive of creatures.

The yeti – or Abominable Snowman – has eluded mankind since the first sighting in the 1920s, despite numerous expeditions which have unearthed giant footprints in the snow but never any definitive evidence of these towering beasts.

Villagers in Siberia have long been convinced of the yeti’s existence, claiming these Neanderthal-type beings roam the nearby desolate landscapes in search of food.

Sightings are rare – but have increased three-fold in the last 20 years – and only last year the largest official expedition in over half a century attempted to follow their trail.

Conditions are some of the harshest on the planet – temperatures drop to as low as – 40°c…but a team of international experts from Russia, China and the U.S. worked together in October in a quest to turn legend into fact.

Pushing the Boundaries of Human Endurance
In merciless, unrelenting conditions, these modern-day explorers were wearing clothing and carrying equipment built to battle elements that are amongst the most extreme known to man. It was all a far cry from days gone by when early explorers pushed the boundaries of human endurance in ill-equipped clothing and the most basic gear, including hob-nailed boots and pitifully inadequate oilskins.

Sightings of the legendary wildman of the snow – cousin to North America’s Big Foot or Sasquatch – were first documented in a 1921 British expedition to the Himalayas.
Said to be Homo Sapiens’ closest relative, Homo Neanderthalenis has been described as a large, hairy, biped humanoid, a hirsute beast up to seven feet tall, and part ape, part bear and part man.

Giant Footsteps in the Snow
Only a few weeks before last year’s multi-national expedition, one led - somewhat bizarrely - by Russian heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev found giant footsteps in the snow…but nothing more concrete.

The latest team of scientists concentrated on an area of western Siberia 3,000 miles and four time zones east of Moscow. They too, according to reports, drew a blank.

So how do you cope as a modern-day, fact-finding yeti hunter – and what do you wear to protect yourself from the biting winds and numbing cold?

The icy landscapes certain to be encountered bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘breath-taking.’ Without the right facial protection your breath will freeze, and any exposed skin will suffer irreparable damage from frostbite.

The further you travel above sea level, the harder it becomes to breathe at all due to the lack of atmospheric pressure, and hallucinations and inhibited mental function are common-place in the ever-thinning air.

Perhaps the most famous brands manufacturing footwear and apparel for such extreme conditions are The North Face, whose cold-weather clothing is legendary amongst explorers and adventurers, Scarpa – renowned for their Jorasses and Phantom mountain boots – and Berghaus and Rab, both long trusted by those who set out to conquer the challenges faced at the most far-flung corners of the earth.

The Extrem Asguard collection from Berghaus was developed from a prototype that was used on the first free ascent of the North Tower of Mount Asguard on the Artic’s Baffin Island.

Rab’s Neutrino Endurance meanwhile is the benchmark down jacket for modern mountaineering and lightweight ascents, while their Neutrino Plus has been designed for use in Polar conditions, at altitude and for extreme Alpine-style conditions.

The North Face Nuptse and Nuptse 2 will also deliver core warmth in a lightweight, compressible classic guaranteed to provide high altitude insulation.
  • A team of scientists from OxfordUniversity and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology in Switzerland are currently analysing a collection of ‘yeti’ remains found by a Belgian-French biologist over a period of 50 years.
Using breakthrough technology which has led to recent advances in forensic science, they are attempting to identify remnants of bone and hair collected by Bernard Heuvelmans between 1950 and 2001.
  • Russian politician Aman Tuleyev is offering a one million ruble reward - about $31,500 - to anyone who finds proof that the Yeti actually exists.
The governor of Kemerovo, where several ‘sightings’ of the creature have been made, told his local television station: “We need to sit down with him, drink some tea and talk about life."

Nicki Williams writes for Gear-Zone, where extreme adventurers will find the very best gear from brands including The North Face, Rab, Berghaus, Scarpa  and Montane.
Photo source: Compfight

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