Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 19th, 2008
I was recently talking to Boing Boing‘s David Pescovitz about the long-held belief that the best way to escape a Yeti is to run downhill.
Why might such a plan work, you ask?
I’ve been reading about the reason behind why this works for a long time.
First, the PG version:
One of the earliest records of reported footprints in Western literature appeared in 1889, in Major Lawrence Austine Waddell’s Among the Himalayas. Waddell reported his guide’s description of a large apelike creature that left the prints.
Most accounts relate that one of the tales that Waddell heard was of what today we call Yetis or Abominable Snowmen, and how to flee properly from them. Indeed, through a Sherpa’s lesson, the Major was told that to escape the Yeti one had to run down the mountainside so the beast’s long hair would fall over its eyes and be blinded when going downhill. At least, this is the way the tale has been rewritten for inclusion in proper British books.
The more adult version unfolds as in the following example. This is the one I have read and heard more often for years:
The most colorful example of connective tissue fatigue I know is to be found in the Nepalese and Tibetan lore of the Abominable Snowmen. It was said that both sexes of Yeti sometimes sought mates near human settlements. If you were chased by a male, there was nothing you could do but pray–their enormous strides could overtake even the fastest runner. But if it was female, one could get away by running downhill–their breasts are so very pendulous and hang so low that they bounce off the knees and fly up into the faces of the poor creatures, causing confusion and slowing them down enough to allow an escape.The Unkindest Cut? by William H. Beauman, The Chicago Literary Club, March 31, 1997.
Other times it was said the mere weight of the breasts would cause the female Yetis to fall down.
Some versions take into account both genders:
If being chased by a Yeti, experts say running downhill is the best way to evade them. The female Yeti have large breasts that hang down to their stomachs, thus have to cradle them or throw them over their shoulders, thereby slowing them down. The hair of the male Yeti blows in its eyes when running, so they cannot see well, slowing them down. Usual Yeti sightings have the elusive beasts going away from humans. Dr. Gregory W. Frazier, January 1, 2001.
Certainly, the examples from art, such as an ancient carving of a female Yeti or a drawing of Almas (below), would seem to demonstrate the supposed reality behind these bits of folk wisdom.
For me, however, I’d want to turn around and run towards the Yeti! But that’s just me.