Thimphu, Bhutan

For decades, it has remained abominably elusive. But now it seems the game could finally be up for the yeti after a mountaineer claimed to be on its trail.

Steve Berry believes the footprints in this photo, taken in the depths of the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, were left by the legendary beast. They are bigger than human footprints - and, in any case, were left on a mountainside so far untouched by man. Placed in a single line, one in front of the other, Berry insists they couldn’t have been made by a snow leopard, or any other four-legged creature. While a bear can walk on two legs, its sheer bulk would make it impossible for it place its paws so precisely. Instead, he believes they were left by a gorilla-like animal as it carefully picked its way across the steep, snow-covered slope. The tracks were spotted on Gangkhar Puensum, the world’s highest unclimbed mountain, when Berry’s Bhutanese guide spotted them 200 yards away across an impassable chasm in October 2014.

Berry, 66, who lives near Badminton in South Gloucestershire, said: ‘The local people said we were the first to ever set foot on that pass. ‘I had always thought that stories about the yeti were a bit of old bunkum. But there is no denying these tracks existed. ‘The prints were clearly visible with the naked eye from where we were standing on a pass at 17,800ft. ‘There was a vertical drop in front of us, not to mention a very serious mountainside to cross, so we could not get to them.’

It was another four days before Mr Berry reached human habitation and was able to share news of his find. There a yak herder told him he had seen the yeti, or migo as it is known in Bhutan, once, some 11 years earlier.

Berry said: ‘He said it was about 100 yards from him and standing upright facing him and looked straight at him. ‘It was completely covered in long dun brown-coloured hair and a face covered in hair like a cat or dog but of human height.