In Search of the Yeti's Hand

Nov 16, 2010
Outside Magazine

Photo For all the allure and mystery of the Himalaya, perhaps the mystery of the Yeti stands out. And one man, Mike Allsop is doing his best to keep the mystery alive.

Mike, a pilot for Air New Zealand, has visited Nepal many times and summited Everest in 2007. Like many visitors, he made friends—especially with Lama Geshe (more on The Lama later). In fact Mike and his wife, Wendy, named their third child Dylan Michael Dalha Allsop.

While staying at the Lama's home, he asked Lama Geshe about the Yeti and listened carefully as he was told of sightings and visits of the Yeti by the people of Khumbu over the years.

Well Mike became intrigued. But the mystery took on new levels when what was considered the Yeti's hand and skull shown at the Upper Pangbouche monastery had been stolen in 1999. He tells the story and history on his website:

In the 1950's a Yeti tracker/scientist called Peter Byrne went on an expedition to Nepal. The story goes that on this expedition he found Yeti tracks and dung. He took moulds of the tracks, analysed the dung, but his biggest find was a hand and skull located in a monastery in Pangbouche.  Peter examined the hand and skull but was unable to take samples. However he returned a few years later with a cunning plan that involved a bottle of scotch and a friendly monk.

While the monk was passed out with a tummy full of scotch, Peter cut a finger off from the original Yeti hand and replaced it with a human bone. The monks were none the wiser. Peter then crossed over to India where he gave the finger to Jimmy Stewart, the famous Hollywood actor, who smuggled it into England where it was analysed by a scientist.  Unfortunately the 1950s pre-dated DNA testing and thus opinion was divided as to whether or not it was a human bone or one from an unknown species.

In the late 1960s Sir Edmond Hillary and a team went to Nepal and concluded the hand in the monastery was a hoax. It is not known whether the team knew that the finger had been switched.

With the 'real' hand missing and the mystery debunked, visits to the monastery dropped off causing the monks to lose a source of income. I know. I visited in the late 1990's, paid my 100 rupees (about USD$1), and stared at the hand for a while.

Today, Mike has a plan—create a replica of the hand to draw back the visitors. He enlisted the help of Weta Workshop, the folks who did all the magic for Lord of the Rings. Mike says he is offering 100% immunity for the persons or person responsible for taking the original hand and skull - no questions asked!  Mike offers:

I can provide a service to collect or personally pick up the artifacts anywhere in the world with absolutely no questions asked. In fact, I'll buy the beers.

Mike , with replicas in hand, so to speak, will visit the monastery in April 2011 to place them but with hopes the publicity will encourage the real hand to appear. If you are in the area, stop by pay your dollar and see for yourself!

Lama Geshe Update

Jigme Sherpa, Lama Geshe's son, told me on November 15 that his father is improving after his stroke.

He is discharged from hospital and is recovering slowly but very well. He seems to be much stronger and has good appetite. I was very happy to learn that  he is able to walk for few seconds, for around 10 steps. He is also not taking any medicine right now. The doctors have called him for a follow up in two weeks.  He is living in Bouddha. My sister (Tashi) is taking of him.

This is good news and my hopes are that he will be up for a few visitors as the spring 2001 Everest season begins.

The family has established a fund to help Lama Geshe. Please use the secure "Donate" button below to make a one time donation that is fast and secure. This will take you to PayPal's safe and secure web site to enter your personal information.

Your donation will be sent directly to Lama Geshe's son Jigme Sherpa who will serve as Director of the fund. 100% of donations will be utilized to benefit Lama Geshe and his family.

Climb On!


Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's Advocate. He is climbing the 7 Summits starting with Mt. Vinson in November 2010 to raise $1 million for Alzheimer's research. You can read more on his site.

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