We’ve recently spent more than a little space exploring the idea that the ongoing search for one of the world’s most famous monsters — the Yeti — is not necessarily all that it seems. The original Tibetan legends that gave rise the Western image of the creature are hugely inspirational for a variety of game types, but this Illuminerdus has to admit that there’s so much modern material that the contemporary possibilities are just begging to be explored.
We’ve already suggested that genetically engineered hybrid ape-men could stand in for “real” Yeti in a game of international intrigue, but there’s substantial evidence to suggest that the Himalayan Yeti really was (or is) part of the great game of espionage in central Asia.
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman has briefly suggested that at least one 1959 expedition organized by a Texas oil baron named Tom Slick was actually part of a Cold War CIA operation, noting that Slick’s well-publicized trek through Nepal in search of the beast would have been excellent cover for Western operatives working against Communist China. In his book Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology, Coleman goes a step further to claim that Slick may have not only used his Yeti expeditions to cover intelligence missions, but also used his personal fortune to fund an entire airline (Slick Airways, natch) that the U.S. government used to secretly ferry supplies (and agents?) across South and Southeast Asia. Coleman also alleges that Edmund Hillary’s famous expeditions in Tibet and Nepal were at least partially sponsored by MI6 in a complimentary British effort to combat the yellow (red?) menace.
Why Hunt the Yeti?
But what if the Yeti wasn’t the cover for all these Himalayan spy games? What if the Yeti was the point all along?
A 1959 U.S. State Department memo made publicly available by the National Archives strongly suggests that the “Yeti mystery” was never really a mystery at all (at least in diplomatic circles), with the Nepalese government in Kathmandu setting unequivocal rules for any expedition seeking the creature.
Scientific discovery is fairly unlikely to motivate multiple national intelligence services to invest in operations purportedly hunting the Yeti, and Nepal’s rules for the Western search seem to be at least as concerned with protecting the hunters from the Yeti as they are in protecting the Yeti from the hunters. There’s certainly nothing odd about urging caution when dealing with massive ape-like hominids adapted to one of the least hospitable regions on earth, but the Nepalese rules almost seem to hint that the masters of Kathmandu feared angering the Yeti (or whatever force they represented) with the Western expeditions.
The Hand of Fate
This is, of course, not the only evidence that the Yeti itself may have been the genuine motivating factor behind the numerous covert operations in and around the Himalayas. Peter Byrne, a member of the 1959 Slick expedition (which, remember, was probably sponsored by the CIA) infiltrated a Buddhist monastery at Pangboche in order to steal at least part of a ritual artifact believed by the monks to be the mummified hand of a Yeti. Presumably at Slick’s direction, Byrne smuggled the hand from Nepal to India, where it was given to Brigadier General James Stewart, who snuck the artifact out of India to the U.S., where it was subsequently hidden without significant study for more than 20 years.
All that work just for a fragment of a yeti hand?
Or maybe just a monkey’s paw.