Image Gallery: 'Yeti Footprint' Photos Up for Auction

Going once! Going twice!

Yeti footprint photos for sale.

(Image credit: CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2014, Single Use)

Four photos that allegedly document the Yeti's walk over a snowy glacier are being auctioned off by Christie's.

In 1951, renowned British mountaineer, Eric Earle Shipton, was leading an expedition on Mount Everest when he took the photos, which show a set of mysterious footprints in the snow. Shipton, as well as Himalayan locals, attributed the prints to the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman. Returning to Europe, Shipton brought the photos — and the tale of this legendary creature — with him.

Dear Mick, I swear this really happened

Backside of Yeti photo.

(Image credit: CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2014, Single Use)

On the underside of one of the photos is a note from Shipton's fellow mountaineer, Tom Bourdillon, who was with him when the photos were taken.

In the note, he recounts how he and Shipton came across the strange footprints in a high pass on the Nepal-Tibet watershed, at an elevation of about 19,500 feet (5,943 meters). The tracks, Bourdillon said, belonged to "no animal known to live in the Himalaya."

Good thing I brought my axe

Ice axe next to print in snow.

(Image credit: CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2014, Single Use)

Another member of the expedition party, Michael Ward, recounted the experience of finding the alleged Yeti footprints in an article published in 1997 in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. He described using his ice axe to show the scale of the print, though he neglected to mention just how long the ice axe was.

"Pichers of the Abomidable Snow mans feet"

Child's drawings on back of Yeti photo.

(Image credit: CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2014, Single Use)

The underside of one photo is inscribed with a less informative, though arguably more adorable, account of what Shipton and his colleagues discovered that day in 1951. In what appears to be a child's handwriting is the description, "Pichers of the Abomidable Snow mans Feet."

Yeti tracks in the snow

Yeti tracks in the snow on Mount Everest.

(Image credit: CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2014, Single Use)

Shipton and his fellow mountaineers followed the alleged Yeti tracks down the side of a glacier, according to the account by Ward.

"Whenever a narrow 6-inch-wide crevasse was crossed there seemed to be claw marks in the snow at the end of the toe imprints," Ward noted.

Dude, what is this thing?

Strange tracks in the snow.

(Image credit: CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2014, Single Use)

Ward stands beside the strange tracks in one of the four photos being auctioned. The photos ignited speculation about the existence of the Yeti.

The Greek photographer and geologist N.A. Tombazi first introduced the mythical creature to Europe in 1925 when he allegedly sighted the Yeti high in the Himalaya, according to Christie's.

It was thiiis big

A boot is compared to the alleged yeti track.

(Image credit: CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2014, Single Use)

With no tools with which to measure the prints, Shipton asked Ward to pose next to one with his booted foot. Ward noted many years later that at the time he was wearing a "42 continental," which measured about 12 to 13 inches (30 to 33 centimeters) long.

Collectively, the photos of the alleged Yeti prints could fetch up to $8,300 at auction, according to Christie's.

Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth is a former Live Science associate editor and current director of audience development at the Chamber of Commerce. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University. Elizabeth has traveled throughout the Americas, studying political systems and indigenous cultures and teaching English to students of all ages.