Today's article is on the subject of something that isn't heard about too much: namely, the giants of Cryptozoology. And that's what today's article is all about. With that said, let's get started. We'll begin with an off-shoot from the Abominable Snowman. Its name: the Nyalmo. And it was an absolute giant. Bernard Heuvelmans, one of the most important figures within the field of cryptozoology said that during the course of his research into the Yeti of the Himalayas, he had learned of no less than three distinct kinds of creature that roamed the vast mountains. “This opinion,” said Heuvelmans, “was confirmed in 1957 by a Tibetan lama called Punyabayra, high priest of the monastery at Budnath, who spent four months in the high mountains and brought back the surprising but valuable information that the Tibetan mountain people knew three kinds of snowmen.” There was the rimi, a man-beast of close to three meters in height that dwelled in the Barun Khola valley, in eastern Nepal, and which was specifically omnivorous. Then there was the rackshi bompo, a beast of roughly human proportions, and which Heuvelmans said “must be the Sherpas’ reddish yeh-teh or mi-teh which leaves the footprints 20 to 23 cm long that the Daily Mail expedition…found in such quantity.” Finally, there was the imposing and terrifying Nyalmo.
Heuvelmans came straight to the point: “The Nyalmo are real giants, between 4 and 5 m high, with enormous conical heads.” He continued: “They wander in parties among the eternal snows above 4000m. In such empty country it is hardly surprising that they should be carnivorous and even man-eating.” Heuvelmans asked of the Nyalmo: “Do they really exist, or are they just a myth?” He admitted to having heard of accounts of Yetis with feet around 45 to 60 cm in length, but was careful to qualify this by stating that: “…the evidence is far too slender for us to draw any satisfactory conclusions. Possibly the Nyalmo are an invented addition based on the belief that Yetis increase in size the higher you go.” Now, let's have a look at the Big Grey Man of Ben Macdhui, Scotland.
A large and mysterious mountain in a Scottish range called the Cairngorms, Ben Macdhui is said to be the lair of a sinister, lumbering, Bigfoot-like creature known as the Big Gray Man (BGM). Legends of its existence date back centuries, and they show no signs of stopping. Although definitively animal-like in both nature and appearance, the Big Gray Man reputedly possesses paranormal powers that allow it to plunge the unwary traveler into states of terror and panic. A form of monster-based mind-control, one might be justified in suggesting. Without doubt, the foremost expert on the BGM is anomalies expert, Andy Roberts. Andy has noted that witnesses to the creepy phenomenon describe how they have heard heavy footsteps on the fog-shrouded mountain, felt a distinct sensation of a threatening presence, and experienced an overwhelming feeling of unbridled terror. The experience is graphic enough to compel witnesses to flee – in fear of their lives – and, in some cases, to run wildly and in crazed, fear-filled fashion for miles. Taking into consideration the fact that encounters almost exclusively take place on rocky, dangerous ground, and often in weather conditions involving mist and snow, Andy stresses that “we should not underestimate the power of the experience.”
As far as can be determined, the first encounter of any real note with the BGM occurred in 1791. The witness was a poet and shepherd named James Hogg. He reported seeing a massive figure on Ben Macdhui, which appeared to manifest out of a strange halo. Says Andy: “As he watched the halo which had formed around him due to the combination of sunshine and mist he suddenly noticed a huge, looming figure. It was vaguely human in shape and he imagined it to be the devil. Hogg fled in terror, not stopping until he reached fellow shepherds.” Then, from 1831, we have the following from Sir Thomas Dick Lauder. In his own words:
“On descending from the top (of Ben Mac Dhui) at about half-past three P.M., an interesting optical appearance presented itself to our view. We had turned towards the east, and the sun shone on our backs, when we saw a very bright rainbow described on the mist before us. The bow, of beautifully distinct prismatic colors, formed about two-thirds of a circle, the extremities of which appeared to rest on the lower portion of the mountain. In the center of this incomplete circle there was described a luminous disc, surrounded by the prismatic colors displayed in concentric rings. On the disc itself, each of the party (three in number), as they stood about fifty yards apart, saw his own figure most distinctly delineated, although those of the other two were invisible to him. The representation appeared of the natural size, and the outline of the whole person of the spectator was most correctly portrayed. To prove that the shadow seen by each individual was that of himself, we resorted to various gestures, such as waving our hats, flapping our plaids, &c., all which motions were exactly followed by the airy figure.”
Moving onto the 20th century, in 1921, the Cairngorm Club Journal reported that a recent letter-writer “…called attention to a myth prevalent in Upper Deeside to the effect that a big spectral figure has been seen at various times during the last five years walking about on the tops of the Cairngorms. When approached, so the story goes, the figure disappears.” Andy Roberts reveals a further layer of the puzzle: “In 1924, Dr. Ernest A. Baker’s book, The Highlands with Rope and Rucksack, appeared. Here, Baker relates the experience of a friend whose job took him into the mountains, a deer stalker or perhaps a shepherd. Alone on Ben Macdhui one day he became aware of a terrifying presence which Afleck Gray [the author of the book, The Big Gray Man of Ben Macdhui] recounts, ‘disturbed him in a manner which was beyond his experience.’ Gray makes the point that this was no ordinary fear but something so powerful that Baker’s friend fled from Ben Macdhui, the terror only subsiding when he reached low ground. Baker also reports how one mountain climber had told him that he would under no circumstances spend any time on Ben Macdhui alone, even in daylight.”
One year later, in 1925, Professor Norman Collie revealed the facts concerning his very own encounter with the Big Gray Man, decades earlier. Collie recalled: “I was returning from the cairn on the summit in a mist when I began to think I heard something else than merely the noise of my own footsteps. For every few steps I took I heard a crunch, and then another crunch as if someone was walking after me but taking steps three or four times the length of my own. I said to myself: This is all nonsense. I listened and heard it again but could see nothing in the mist. As I walked on and the eerie crunch, crunch, sounded behind me I was seized with terror and took to my heels, staggering blindly among the boulders for four or five miles nearly down to Rothiemurchus Forest. Whatever you make of it I do not know, but there is something very queer about the top of Ben Macdhui and I will not go back there by myself, I know.” Moving on: certainly one of the most bizarre of all the cases that falls into the domain of this particular category dates from 1789 and is referenced in an old document that came from the private collection of a noted family of landowners in Cornwall, England. Admittedly, the details are unfortunately very scant indeed. But, nevertheless, of deep significance, given what we have read thus far, and what is still yet to come.
Now, to a saga of epic proportions. During the course of undertaking research for a book dealing with landscape-based mysteries, one informant told well-known Fortean authority Andy Roberts of a terrifying mountain-based experience that occurred to him during the early 1960s. The source was a boy at the time, and out with a friend to investigate one of the many aircraft wrecks from the Second World War that still, today even, litter the 2000-foot-high Bleaklow plateau in the Derbyshire Peak District. While visiting the crash site, the man suddenly heard his friend shout. But the reason for his cry had nothing to do with the remains of old, wrecked aircraft. The man told Andy: ‘I looked and saw, all in one instant, grouse exploding out of the heather towards us, sheep and hares stampeding towards us and behind them, rolling at a rapid rate towards us from the direction of Hern Clough, a low bank of cloud or fog......but what was truly terrifying was that in the leading edge of the cloud bank - in it and striding purposefully towards us -- was a huge shadow-figure, a man-like silhouette, but far bigger than a man, as high as the cloudbank, as high as a house. And the terror that hit me and was driving the birds and the animals and my friend was utterly overwhelming - like a physical blow - and I have never felt the like since!’
The two boys had never heard of the very similar phenomenon of a sudden outbreak of all-encompassing fear that the Big Grey Man of Ben Macdhui provokes – about which, more soon - and the man’s friend attributed the terrifying incident to "Th’owd Lad," a Pennine-based term for none other than the Devil himself. "We fled," the man added, and continued thus to Andy: "‘We plunged over the crags above Gathering Hill - and every time I go back and look at those crags, I wonder why we didn’t break our necks. We fled in mindless terror down that mountainside towards the Shelf Brook and Doctors Gate - and all the sheep and wildlife that could run or fly went careering down with us in utter panic. And then, about half way down, we seemed to run out into the sunlight - and it was all over! All of the panic was gone. The sheep stopped, put their heads down, and started to graze. Everything returned at once to normal. But back up there, on Higher Shelf Stones, wisps of mist were still coiling round."
And, finally, there is the mega-ape, Gigantopithecus. In terms of what is known about Gigantopithecus, we have to travel back in time to a relatively recent period: the 1930s. The immense beast has the thorny problem of nothing less than male impotence to thank for its discovery. For years, Chinese herbalists and doctors (some accredited and some not) have utilized fossilized teeth to create cocktails that, so they claim, can cure the embarrassing ailment of being unable to “get it up.” Since the Chinese landscape is rich in fossilized bones, people have made significant profits from selling such items to apothecaries all across China. It turns out that in 1936 a German man named Ralph von Koenigswald came across a huge fossilized tooth – specifically a molar – in a Hong Kong apothecary.
It was highly fortuitous that von Koenigswald was the man that made the discovery, since he was a paleontologist, and instantly recognized the significance of what had fallen into his lap. Not only was the molar giant-sized, von Koenigswald was able to determine it came from a primate – and a large one; a very large one. In the immediate years that followed, von Koenigswald found further such examples and coined the term Gigantopithecus blacki – the former word standing for “gigantic ape” and the latter a reference to a deceased friend Davidson Black. Perhaps most amazing and impressive of all were Gigantopithecus’s statistics: estimates suggested that the height for an adult male would have been around ten-feet, while it might have tipped the scales at 1,200 pounds in weight. As for when Gigantopithecus is believed to have become extinct, suggestions are around 200,000 years ago, but after having lived for roughly six million years. Could Gigantopithecus still be with us? Might it still be alive, but in the name of the Nyalmo? Or, maybe, in the name of the "Chinese Bigfoot," known as the Yeren?