Mount Everest Base Camp Trek, Day 7: Rest day at Machhermo

Wim is going out for a half day on his own, while I keep a sick day in bed. I’m somewhat jealous of him, but I feel that there is no point in even trying to get out of bed. Wim places a plate with two pieces of toast and some jam next to my bed. What a luxury, breakfast in bed! It takes me two hours and a lot of effort to eat it all.

From my bed I see how one after the other helicopter lands in Machhermo. Time and time again I wonder if they are meant for people who have to be evacuated due to altitude sickness, or maybe worse. But let’s assume that they are only supply helicopters.

Machhermo is not only known for the many return tickets home being handed out by the local rescue post, but also for being the decor for one of the most intriguing events in perhaps the entire Nepalese history. In 1974 there was a girl with her yaks on the road, when suddenly – brace yourself – a Yeti hit her hard-handed to the ground! She fell a few meters down into the valley of the Dudh Kosi, but she survived the fall. She looked up anxiously, where she saw that the Yeti was holding three of her yaks by the horns and turning their necks mercilessly. Then the terrible snowman fled over the mountain range, never to be found again. Swallowed by fear, the girl ran towards the village of Khunde, where she told her story to the police. They took her testimony seriously and carried out a trace investigation. And yes, they actually found traces that were very similar to those that were previously photographed by Western mountaineers.

Although science still considers the existence of the Yeti as a myth, the Nepalese people are all convinced that this giant primate does exist. Numerous stories are known – even from prominent, respected Western mountaineers – who confirm to have stood face to face themselves with this huge crossbreed between ape and bear. Because that is how most would describe a Yeti. Although it seems that the Yeti belongs to the breed of the bears rather than that of the monkeys. And even science agrees on that fact. Because a scientific study on a found yeti hair showed that the DNA represented strong similarities to those of a prehistoric polar bear, that became extinct 40,000 years ago. Not that a polar bear could survive for a long time in Nepal. Because he wouldn’t be able to catch a lot of fish at this altitude…

Besides hair, also other things were found: a scalp, a skull and the skeleton of the hand of a Yeti. The scalp is regarded as a sacred relic and is currently safely stored in a locked box in Khumjung.

(Photo by Jason Burke)

That locked box is of course not there without reason. It’s because in 1991 the skull and the Yeti hand were stolen by a rich, anonymous collector. I wonder whether he knew that some of that skeleton existed simply out of human bones. For the Brit Peter Byrne had exchanged several bones of the Yeti skeleton with human bones years before the theft. The original fingers of the Yeti were shipped to England for further investigation. The research was carried out, but the results were … “inconclusive”.

(Photo by Return The Hand – replica)

Sheer nonsense or a real prehistoric polar bear that mysteriously has been able to survive for almost 40,000 years. Who knows…? But let me just crawl back into my bed again. I really need to get some sleep. Wondering what I’m going to dream about …

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