My Quest for the Yeti: The World's Greatest Mountain Climber Confronts the Himalayas' Deepest Mystery

Reinhold Messner, Author
Reinhold Messner, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-312-20394-8
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-312-27078-0
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The first human to climb Everest without bottled oxygen, and the first to summit the world's 14 highest peaks, Messner is a legend in mountaineering circles. How appropriate, then, that he should take on another legend associated with mountains--the yeti, aka the Abominable Snowman. Messner's quest to uncover the truth behind the legend begins in July 1986, in Tibet, where, at night, deep in that country's eastern wilderness, he encounters something: ""the creature towered menacingly, its face a gray shadow, its body a black outline. Covered with hair, it stood upright on two short legs and had powerful arms."" On and off for the next 11 years, Messner undertakes expeditions through Tibet and Bhutan in search of that creature. In time, he learns to distinguish between the myth of the yeti (""a collective term for all the monsters of the Himalayas, real or imagined"") and the animal on which the myth is based, which he realizes is known throughout the region as the chemo or dremo, and which he concludes is a type of brown bear (Ursus arctus), which he observes several times. That conclusion will disappoint readers looking for evidence of a missing link or humanoid bigfoot, but even so there's plenty of high adventure in the book, as Messner treks across snowy wastelands, gets lost, gets arrested, sleeps in smoky tents and under the stars--and describes both the history of yeti research and the ongoing eradication of Tibetan culture at the hands of Chinese invaders. An engaging blend of travelogue and cryptozoological inquiry, this book will make a great campfire read. (Apr.)
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