Dr. John Rollason (Peter Cushing), his wife, Helen (Maureen Connell), and assistant, Peter Fox (Richard Wattis), are guests of the Lama (Arnold Marlé) of the monastery of Rong-buk while on a botanical expedition to the Himalayas. A second expedition, led by Dr. Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker) accompanied by trapper Ed Shelley (Robert Brown), photographer Andrew McNee (Michael Brill) and Sherpa guide Kusang (Wolfe Morris), arrives at the monastery in search of the legendary Yeti or Abominable Snowman. Rollason, despite the objections of his wife and the Lama, decides to join Dr. Friend's expedition. Whereas Rollason is motivated by scientific curiosity to learn more about the creature, Dr. Friend seeks fame and fortune and wants to capture a live Yeti and present it to the world's press.
The expedition climbs high into the mountains and finds giant footprints in the snow, evidence of the Yeti's existence. As the tensions between Rollason and Dr. Friend rise, McNee is injured by a bear trap laid by Dr. Friend to catch the Yeti. As soon as McNee is well enough to move, he hobbles from his bed and jumps off a cliff. The Sherpa guide, Kusang, sees this and flees downhill at double speed back to the monastery, from where Helen and Fox decide to mount a rescue mission. Meanwhile, Shelley succeeds in shooting and killing a Yeti, an act that enrages the Yeti's fellows. When Shelley is killed in a failed attempt to catch a live Yeti person, Dr. Friend finally decides to cut his losses and leave with the body of the dead Yeti. However, the Yeti close in on the two survivors and Dr. Friend dies spellbound at the sight of a crushing avalanche.
Rollason takes refuge in an ice cave and watches in amazement as a number of Yeti arrive and take away the body of their fallen compatriot. He realizes the Yeti are an intelligent species biding their time to claim the Earth for themselves after humanity has destroyed itself.
The rescue party brings Rollason back to the monastery where Rollason asserts to the Lama that the expedition found proof that nothing exists regarding the "myth" of the Yeti. Perhaps Rollanson is keeping the secret of Yeti existence because he feels it is the only way to protect the Yeti race. Or, perhaps Rollanson is still under telepathic control by the Yetis. Or perhaps Rollanson fears that the Lama might kill him and his wife to ensure the ongoing secret of the Yeti people. The uncertainty of Rollanson's motivation makes a terrific ending to the film.
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