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Media Article # 354
Article submitted by Brendan Berthhold
Article prepared and posted by Vince Lauria

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Pepsi goes on Yeti trail in Nepal

The Times of India

IANS[ SUNDAY, AUGUST 17, 2003 01:17:11 PM ]

KATHMANDU: Soft drink major Pepsi may have taken a toss in India but it is set to hit a high in Nepal as an expedition sponsored by its Japanese distributor goes up the Himalayas to track down the legendary yeti.

Japanese beverage company Suntory is sponsoring the Yeti Expedition 2003 led by 60-year-old custom-made furniture maker Yoshiteru Takahashi and his six-member team which plans to spend two months among the southeastern peaks of Mt Dhaulagiri.

At a height of 4,700-5,000 metres, they hope to take photographs of the abominable snowman and prove that the creature exists.

The Tokyo entrepreneur, who says a set of footprints in the mountains in 1971 set him on the trail of the yeti, had led an earlier "yeti expedition" in 1994. At that time, he failed to film the creature but came across "evidence" that convinced him the beast, half bearish, half primate, actually exists.

Takahashi, who speaks through an interpreter, says he has been able to narrow down the creature's territory.

At those spots, his team will set up six infrared automatic cameras that will go on clicking 24 hours, coming up - god willing - with photographs of the yeti and other Himalayan wildlife.

The cameras come from a second corporate supporter, Nikon, while Suntory is bearing the costs of the expedition which amount to an impressive 10 million yen.

Mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner claimed he had seen the yeti and wrote a book, prompting ridicule. But undaunted, the millionaire climber said this May, during the golden jubilee celebration of the first ascent of Mt Everest, that the beast, locally known as 'banmanchhe', did exist. One day, he would like to hit the yeti trail himself, he said.

At least three expeditions in the 1920s claimed they had sighted the fabulous creature but the only evidence they could produce was photographs of footprints.

Takahashi says there are two types of yeti. The larger, he says, is "a kind of the Himalayan brown bear". His team is on the trail of the smaller, called "miniti", which is about 150 cm tall and resembles a primate.

"When we successfully prove that the yeti really lives in the Himalayas, the next step is protection," he says. "We don't want this precious creature to die out. If the yeti's existence is proved, scientific research and protection schemes can start."

Though not carrying any weapons, the expedition is carrying something potent to ward off an attack should they come across the creature and should it turn menacing. It is a spray containing hot chilli powder. And no, there are no sponsors for that!

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