Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Search for the Wild Man of the Pyrenees

     It came as a bit of a surprise to me to see the amount of feedback I received from last month's translation of Sr. Javier Resines' article on the alleged "wild man of the Pyrenees". It included a secondhand report of a sighting in France, and a firsthand report of a sighting in southern New York.
    In 2011 Sr. Resines also published two articles on a search for the fabulous creature, the first expedition being described here and the second here. It is high time, therefore, that I translate both of them in the same post. The italics were in the original.

The wild man of the Aragonese Pyrenees. Expeditions in search of the yeti in Bielsa, Huesca. 
Part 1: the first expedition.
by Javier Resines

     Almost from time immemorial there has been speculations on the existence of wild men inhabiting some isolated and poorly accessible zones of the Pyrenees. This possibility has again become current following the data brought back by recent expeditions taken place in the area of Bielsa, in Huesca [42° 38' S, 0° 13'E].
     We are grateful to the French investigator and filmmaker, Florent Barrère, promoter and publicist of these expeditions, for permitting us access to his information and to extract from them the article transcribed below, the work of this researcher of the unusual. In it an account is given of what happened on the two expeditions organized by the association Les films de la grotte [The films of the grotto], the objective being to gain data on the wild man of the Pyrenees, at bottom, to have knowledge of the case of the so called yeti of Peña Montañesa.
     Enjoy the account ...

Expeditions to Bielsa
by Florent Barrère

1. Locality of Bielsa and its environs.

     Bielsa is a small town situated in the entrance of the valley of Monte Perdido [Mount Lost], in the province of Huesca, in the Aragonese Pyrenees. The easiest way to enter this valley from France is to take the road to Saint-Lary-Soulan, in the valley of Aure and the pass through the Saint-Lary tunnel. Some Spanish towns - with very low population density, except for Bielsa - promise abundant surprises in the valley of Monte Perdido: Peña Montañés, Parzan ...
     The principal montane forest of Monte Perdido is known as The green ball or pine forest, ie the valley green with trees. This valley is very damp and typical of the Pyrenean forests: leafy deciduous forests and bushes up to a thousand metres, mixed with conifers between 1000 and 1800 metres.

2. Incident in the environs of Bielsa.

     One well known event took place in the region known as Peña Montanesa (Huesca) in the Aragonese Pyrenees. It involved a quiet zone only visited by shepherds who work with their flocks. On 4 May 1993, a group of six woodcutters encountered a strange being 1.7 metres [5 ft 7 in] high in this countryside. According to Manuel Cazcarra, one of the workers, they were cutting wood when "around 15:45, suddenly cries were heard, sharp cries which resembled those of the wild goats. We thought that one of these animals had fallen from a cliff, and I went closer to see what had happened. And when I saw it, it was perched up in a pine tree, clinging to a branch with its hands and feet. It cried out. The distance which separated us from the creature was some 90 metres. I called out to my companions so that they would come and see and the first one who did so Ramiro López, who arrived in time to see how the being climbed down from the tree to hide itself behind a large bush. The rest of my companions also arrived but, unfortunately, were not able to see it. However, they had to avoid a trunk which went towards them, undoubtedly cast violently on the part of the ape-man."
     These are the simple and precise words used by a man who has seen bears, although these have lately turned scarce in the Spanish Pyrenees. He was sure that it could not have been a bear or any other known creature of the Pyrenean fauna. When we asked Manuel Cazcarra if he had encountered other signs in the following days, he replied: "A few days later it was found that the window of one of our Land Rover vehicles was broken, as well as a caterpillar truck being half destroyed some days afterwards."  In the same week, a Guardia Civil [police] patrol, accompanied by one of the woodcutters, headed into the area and found strange footprints in the soil. Although they did not appear to belong to any known animal, the Guardia Civil - in order to avoid panic - broadcast the hypothesis that the prints were probably caused by a bear which had escaped from a nearby nature reserve.

 3. Expedition 1: Broken trees

     The first expedition to the environs of Bielsa was organized on the initiative of Philippe Coudray who, with his twin brother Jean Luc Coudray, visited this region in July 2008 to attempt a 'first hominological lookover", after having knowledge of the recent testimony of the Spanish woodcutters. With the experience acquired in the two expeditions in search of the American wild man (Sasquatch 2007 of Texas and Sasquatch 2008 in British Columbia), Philippe Coudray was capable of going deep into the mountains of the valley of Monte Perdido and offer his point of view on the timber constructions and intentionally made broken trees which they found.
"Trees broken on this route"
     The first photographic locality of Philippe and Jean Luc Coudray was situated around the little sealed highway D11, which cuts through Bielsa in the direction of Espierba. At one time past the town of Espierba, the broken trees were encountered along the road.
     On this road, three sets of trees broken at distinct heights, normally between two and three metres, were found and photographed by the Coudray brothers. This is the structure most characteristic of this series of broken trees:
Timber structure in Espierba
     A priori, these two young trees could have been broken by accident after a strong storm, as commonly occurs in this mountain forest.
     However, the details of this structure tell us something else: in addition to being the two trees situated at the same height, something which could happen in nature, the two young broken trunks were held up by a much softer branch that was artificial, then positioned in order to support the structure.
     Therefore, what might seem a mere accident of nature, a simple pile of timber placed thus by chance through natural agents, appears to be a structure intentionally manufactured, independently such that the equal heights in the two broken piles to be fortuitous or not.

Detail of the structure
[Comment by Sr. Resines] So far, the first part of the discoveries made by the French expeditions carried out in the area of Bielsa. As we have read, they have encountered singular constructions which also have been found in other parts of the world. Constructions which, in the second of the expeditions, turn out to be more elaborate and give rise to questions as to what or who have made them and with what objective.

Part 2. The second expedition
by Florent Barrère

4. Expedition 2: Constructions and a series of footprints

     The second expedition near Bielsa was carried out in August 2009 and was based on a country house in Azet, in the vicinity of Saint-Lary. On this occasion, two enigmas were encountered: the appearance of new timber constructions and the discovery of a trail which, without the shadow of a doubt, must be attributed to a bipedal animal.
     With Philippe and Jean Luc Coudray, we decided to return to the highway where the broken trees were photographed in July 2008, the D11, which leaves Bielsa and passes through the little village of Espierba. The old constructions were not able to be found again, but a timber structure in a star formation was photographed along that route.
Cross structure near Espierba
     These constructions of an intentional character, very crude to serve for human use - whether being of wood or stone - were encountered in each geographic zone in which proofs of the wild man abounds. As Ivan T. Sanderson writes in his work, Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life (1961):
Among these are "reports" or rumors that some Sherpas had found crude stoneworks in areas that they said were inhabited by Meh-Tehs, on the basis of droppings, animal refuse, and other items they said they found within them. This, in some measure, concurs with the lone story from British Columbia by the Amerinds of having found what they appeared to indicate they thought was a sort of incubation chamber constructed of crude piled stonework in a cave. Apart from this, we have the reports of a few central Eurasians, as given by the Russians, that the Almas dig holes in the ground and cover them with brush. [I have copied the passage from p 341 of the original English language publication, rather than attempt a back translation from the Spanish - which was, itself, a fairly free translation of the English.]

"Star" structure in the soil.
   And if the constructions of the trucks in a star formation could appear to be accidental structures, other smaller ones found in the soil, and also identified in British Columbia, appear to defy the laws of chance: in fact, what possibilities exist of three branches accidentally crossing at a central point? Only a careful study on the laws of tree fall could shed light on this enigma.
     The animal trail encountered a bit further on, near Highway D19 and the environs of Espierba, also appeared very interesting to us by the bipedal locomotion it outlines: an alternation of three more or less arranged footprints along the same right axis, with a large distance between each step.
      Owing to the soil being dry and crumbly, it was possible to obtain only one weak cast of the anatomic details of this series of three impressions, which do not permit its later analysis and comparison with other footprints of registered animals in the area: wolves, foxes, bears, wild dogs ...
     However, some details are evident:
  1.  The trail displays a clear alternation between the right foot and the left foot: the anterior extremities were not placed on the soil. Thus, the track is from a bipedal animal.
  2.  No irregularity marks an outline of the sole: the footprint is not that of a shoe. Thus, the track is of a bipedal animal with bare feet.
  3.  The distance between each footprint is very large, almost double that of a normal human gait. Therefore, this trail is attributable to a bipedal animal with bare feet and a long stride.
(End of the second part.)

View of the animal track
[Comment by Sr. Resines] So far, the interesting evidences of a supposed wild man encountered by the French team in the Huescan Pyrenees. It strongly calls our attention to the existing similarity between the structures made with tree trunks found in the Bielsa area and those encountered in other parts of the world, such as the mountainous region of Shoria, situated in the eastern Siberian taiga.
     At least, this was attested by the expedition carried out in 2010 towards this remote part of the world, under the command of Igor Burtsev, director of the International Centre of Hominology. In his opinion,
"At first we thought that the yetis were making these constructions in order to use them as shelters, but soon we reached the conclusion that it amounted to a type of point of reference for them, as landmarks. In this manner, they mark out their territories and communicate with their fellows."
     Perhaps the Russian scientist is right and so the supposed Siberian yetis like those of the Pyrenees have attained an  optimum intellectual level which permits them (always within speculation, of course) to create primitive constructions in an elementary manner to warn or communicate with other members of its group or, perhaps, with other groups of hominids.
     Once more we extend our thanks to Florent Barrère for permitting us access to his formidable work and we wish him full success in his investigations concerning this enigma which he is pursuing on both sides of the Pyrenees.

     What to make of all this? It is not "proof", or even hard evidence. I prefer to think of it as a number of small pieces in the big jigsaw puzzle. If enough pieces are retained, perhaps a picture will emerge.  This is the sort of thing which should be published in a peer reviewed journal such as the Journal of Cryptozoology, with every item fully described, measured, and photographed. I have heard of such constructions being attributed to bigfoot in North America and yowies in Australia. No direct evidence exists connecting the two, but neither does anything leap out at you as a mundane explanation. I would be interested to know how any bipedal animal could break tree trunks at a height of two or three metres. But I am particularly impressed with the star formation, which is not something you would expect to occur by chance.
     And what about the woodcutter's story? It would have been nice if he had provided a detailed description of what he saw. In any case, either he was lying or mistaken, or he saw something which was not supposed to be there.
     For what it is worth, Sr. Resines also published two quite brief reports on mysterious footprints in the snow. Personally, I do not consider the information content or the evidence sufficient to be worthy of translation, but if you are interested, you can find them here and here, and use an automatic translation program - provided you don't mind reading "English as it is spoke".


  1. As if to timely confirm your research article there appears to be photos and video that were just posted showing a Pyrenees yeti from the Huesca ski resort of Formigal Feb.6, 2016:

    1. Very interesting. However, I've never heard of any of these "yetis" being white. Admittedly, they have not normally been sighted in the snow, and I suppose it is theoretically possible that they might have a white winter coat, like the Arctic fox. However, that would imply that it lives the whole of the winter in the snow and needs a white coat to camouflage itself from the view of either predators or prey. Neither appears likely for a primate.
      Also, I note that the proportions of its limbs are human rather than simian.

    2. Images of Yeti of Formigal belong to a marketing strategy for a company of sunglasses and a ski resort.


The Possum Book

I am pleased to provide a link to a website of a friend of mine, Robyn Tracey, who has written a fascinating story about her dealings with brush-tailed possums in the outer suburbs of Sydney. You can download the book for free, or read it on the site. Go to: The Possum Book.