KATHMANDU (Reuters Life!) - It seems the search for mythical creatures goes on.
Less than a week after two men in the United States claimed they had found the remains of a half-man, half-ape Bigfoot, which actually turned out to be a rubber gorilla suit, a team of Japanese climbers began trekking on Wednesday to a mountain in Nepal hoping to find the Yeti, or abominable snowman.
Seven climbers, supported by sherpas and carrying cameras and telescopes, will spend 50 days on the lower reaches of the 7,661-metre (25,134-ft) Dhaulagiri IV to try and collect evidence of the beast's existence, team leader Yoshiteru Takahashi said.
Takahashi, who carried out similar missions in the same area in 1994 and 2003, told Reuters that one of his team members and three sherpas had seen "something like the Yeti" from a distance five years ago.
"We believe that was the Yeti," said Takahashi, a 65-year-old employee of a Tokyo furniture company. "So we are going to search for a third time. We need photographs and video tapes to prove it. It is very important."
Sherpas and climbers often narrate stories about a wild hairy creature roaming the Himalayas. Those tales have captured the imagination of foreign climbers of Mount Everest since the 1920s prompting many, including Everest hero Sir Edmund Hillary, to carry out hunts for the Yeti.
Some climbers even claim to have found Yeti footprints, but no one has yet actually seen it or produced irrefutable proof.
The Japanese will pitch three camps, manned by two researchers each, between 3,400 meters (11,154 feet) and 4,300 meters (14,100 feet) above base camp.
They will use binoculars during the day and also have long-lens cameras to take pictures at night.
"I want to shake hands if I meet him," said T. Onishi, another member of the team. "But it is very difficult. They are shy, so we want to just take pictures."
(Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee and Miral Fahmy)
(For the latest Reuters news on Nepal see: in.reuters.com, for blogs see blogs.reuters.com/in)