Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 12th, 2008
The man’s reach was far indeed. In Portland, Maine, the local newspaper recalled Sir Edmund visited here in 1962, and gave a lecture for teachers and school children at the-then-grand Lafayette Hotel on his Abominable Snowman expedition.
As a final goodbye to Sir Edmund Hillary, I want to share my favorite photograph of him. It is Hillary with an unknown artist’s drawing of the Abominable Snowman that Hillary loved to show to the media before his 1960 expedition.
To prepare for that excursion to the Himalayas in search of the Yeti, Hillary and Marlin Perkins of the Lincoln Park Zoo (later director of the St. Louis Zoo) quietly talked to such cryptozoological figures as Tom Slick and Bernard Heuvelmans.
The drawing of the Abominable Snowman Hillary used closely matched the general version acknowledged by Heuvelmans and Ivan T. Sanderson. It was seen as nearest to the appearance of the man-sized Yeti, the Met-Teh, according to the local sightings.
Heuvelmans often used a version of the following Yeti drawing:
Marlin Perkins, when Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” began soon after the Hillary-World Book-Perkins expedition returned, broadcast a program on the Abominable Snowman. Perkins is shown in that show famously standing next to a full-scale cutout of the Yeti image similar to the one displayed above by Hillary.
Unfortunately, copies of those early “Wild Kingdom” programs seem not to be available for contemporary viewing.
Marlin Perkins, circa 1963.
The drawings used by Hillary-Perkins merged with those of their contemporaries. Then the sketches continued to evolve through the representations of recent artists who modeled their Yetis on the older images and history of sightings.
The classic detailed comic book Tintin in Tibet in 1960, for example, shows the pointed head of the Yeti, as found on the skullcaps discovered in the early 1950s by Western expeditions. These imitation-Yeti ritual artifacts, said to be 350 years old, were in the possession of the lamas of Nepal and, reportedly, in Tibet, as well.
Harry Trumbore’s drawing of a Yeti, as it appeared in a 2006 field guide, echoes the 1960s’ image of the Abominable Snowman.
Finally, in this rarely seen photograph (below) of Sir Edmund Hillary at the end of the 1960 Abominable Snowman hunt, he is shown with a bear fur that he and Desmond Doig initially told the media was a Yeti fur (although he knew differently). So it goes.
I would rather remember Sir Edmund Hillary for the passion he displayed before his medical, spy, and slightly cryptozoological trek departed to Nepal in 1960, in his initial news conferences, via my favorite photograph of him, at top.
May Sir Edmund Hillary rest in peace, with his spirit at the roof of the world always.