The Shipton Snowman

There are many alleged sightings of cryptozoological creatures, but only three of them have achieved iconic status: the Doctor’s photograph of Loch Ness monster, Patterson Bigfoot, and Eric Shipton’s talltale about Abominable Snowman.

Sir Eric Shipton was a distinguished mountaineer who scaled the Himalayas several times. Adoringly called, climber’s climber, Shipton and his exploration of the treks which lead to the summit of Mt. Everest in 1951 made Edmund Hilary’s conquest possible two years later. On Menlung Glacier on 9th November 1951, Shipton and his devoted assistant Michael Ward ‘came across’ a one-mile trail of footprints. Shipton took photos of the clearest print, which measured 13 inches toe to heel. (The first European ‘sighting’ of a large bear-like beast in the Himalayas was made in 1925, but until Shipton, there was no photographic proof).

Michael Ward later said, “the photo of a trail was unrelated to the close-ups of a single print,” and claimed it was taken earlier the same day “and was probably the trail of a mountain goat.” Ward insisted that the confusion arose because these negatives of the trail and the footprint were filed together. Shipton, however, made no mention of there being two tracks. Many thought it was a practical joke–Shipton reshaping the print of a goat to give it toes. Shipton had earlier claimed that a fellow climber tried to eat some rocks (thinking they were sandwiches) in a moment of oxygen deprivation. Shipton also ‘discovered’ a bizarre sexual fetish diary and women’s clothing with the body of Maurice Wilson (who died climbing Everest solo).

Shipton was passed over as the expedition leader for (eventually successful) Everest expedition the next year. Ironically enough, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay both reported seeing large footprints while scaling Everest on that fateful climb.

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0 thoughts on “The Shipton Snowman

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