Thirteen Years Ago…and Big Grey Man

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 25th, 2006

Climbing mountains has all kinds of hazards. On September 25, 1993, while free climbing, after carelessly slipping on some loose talus, I fell straight back 40 feet from a cliff onto some boulders on the ground. Simply put, I broke my back.

Life has never been quite the same. Definitely for me, there is more deep appreciation every moment for my sons and my life, despite the struggles that have ensued in recent years financially.

As it turned out, I burst my Lumbar 1. I survive today thanks to my will to live, plus medical scientists who reconstructed my now fused-vertebrae. Perhaps it was my luck coming from the fact I was wearing a Yeti tee-shirt too?

Anyway, the point is that there are all kinds of dangers for humans when climbing cliffs, hills, and mountains. Some might even be cryptozoological. Take for instance, Ben MacDhui.

Big Grey Man

The above is Harry Trumbore’s drawing of the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui in The Field Guide of Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates.

At 4,296 feet, Ben MacDhui is the tallest peak in the Cairngorm Mountain range in central Scotland. The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui, a large giant sighted in the 1890s-1950s, has become a legendary figure in the mountains.

Big Grey Man

A new short film, The Big Grey Man of Ben Macdhui concentrates, apparently, on the high attitude rationalizations one hears for such stories – light playing games in mists, the effects of lack of oxygen on the brain, and other mundane explanations. But the ferla mohr, the long-legged, slightly pointed-eared, and sharp-nailed hairy giant is always in the background.

The 15 minute film is showing at the George Square Lecture Theatre, Edinburgh at 11:00 am on Saturday, October 21, 2006, as part of the 4th Annual Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival 2006.

Enjoy it. And you won’t have to climb any mountains to view it!

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

18 Responses to “Thirteen Years Ago…and Big Grey Man”

  1. crypto_randz responds:

    I believe the giant grey man exists. Just how mysterious a mountain can be nothing out in the distance the visibility is down right terrible. Anything could be lurking in the cold chilly windy mountain region. I think the yeti is more real than bigfoot because the yeti is more neanderthal than bigfoot and they can survive in the extreme cold.

  2. One Eyed Cat responds:

    I like to be accurate when I can. Do you have a phonic spelling for Ben MacDhui? My celtic is not good at all.


  3. MrInspector responds:

    Phonetic pronunciation: ben makdui
    or if you’re Scottish, Bein Makduuh It’s from the Gaelic not Celtic.

  4. Sky King responds:

    A twenty foot humanoid? If you believe in that, I suggest you consult several anatomists and physiologists, to glean a better understanding of the sort of physical problems a primate of that size would suffer from.

    There’s a whole world of difference between an eight or nine-foot physiology and a twenty foot physiology.

    Unless they are made of something different than flesh, bone and sinew – unless they have, say, a titanium skeletal system – they are physiologically impossible.

  5. Mnynames responds:

    Gaelic is one of the Celtic languages.

  6. C.M. responds:

    Very true Sky King, that thing would be breaking bones with each step. Additionally, wouldn’t it be a tad peculiar that the tallest living land mammal is in fact, a primate closely related to man living in Scotland? I dunno, sounds a tad far fetched.

  7. eireman responds:

    I believe if you anglicised it, you would pronounce Beinn MacDhui, as Ben MacDewey, although you’d soften some of those sounds and there’d be some nasals not associated with English. But my Irish gaelic is better than my Scottish (I’m no expert by any means) and there may be some differences.

  8. Coot688 responds:

    I don’t know. There have been discoveries of very large human bones and many discoveries of extremely large fossilized footprints that would need to belong to an individual or creature at least this tall.

  9. sausage1 responds:

    On the British mainland Gaelic arrived (or existed) in two waves, Goidelic (Erse or Irish, Manx and some Scottish dialects) and Brythonic (Welsh and the now dead language Cornish, also the Breton dialect in France).

    The Big Grey Man is a common sight for walkers and climbers in this region of Scotland. It is a phenonemenon caused by your own shadow being reflected back at you, if I remember correctly, which I usually don’t after four pints of Abbot Ale. I have it in a Big Boys Book of Climbing somewhere, but the gist is that what you are seeing is yourself. If you come across this phenomenon, wave to it, stick your tush out and do star jumps. The big beastie will do exactly the same.

  10. greatanarch responds:

    The Cairngorms are remote by UK standards, but they are not the Himalayas. A 20-foot primate hiding on a bare Scottish mountain? You would be better employed looking for a T. Rex hiding in Central Park.

    The ‘Grey Man’ effect, a feeling of sourceless terror, is real, but it is psychological not cryptozoological in the strict sense. The Greeks seem to have experienced something similar in isolated places: they called it ‘panic’ fear after the god Pan.

  11. C.M. responds:

    Yes there are a lot of stories of giant “human” bones out there, which always seem to turn to dust when touched or get mysteriously lost or something like that. If the stories have any basis in actual events, I think people letting their imaginations running away with disarticulated skeletons of various species of megafauna (think elephant skeletons and cyclopses) is more likely than structurally infeasible supergiants.

  12. RockerEm responds:

    Wow, I wish I knew about this when I went to Scotland in 2004. This is interesting, I’m going to investigate further on this.

  13. Lyndon responds:

    In truth, as far as I know there has only ever been one report of a 20 ft tall hairy hominid on Ben MacDhui. There is no need to take it seriously. The rest of the reports of the ‘Big Grey Man’ seem to involve more ghostly apparitions or wierd feelings and sounds.

    This area is NOT ‘hairy hominid’ territory. I know the area and the mountain very well. It might be ghost territory but hairy homind territory it is not.

  14. mystery_man responds:

    20 feet seems to be pushing it as far as biological feasibility goes. All animals are bound by certain physical laws and a bipedal hominid this large would be too heavy to carry around its own weight very effectively. Thats why you find the largest animals in the world living in the water, where their body weight is supported. I’d believe it more if it was a quadroped, but even then, why would it evolve to be that large on open land? What would be the trigger that would spur this sort of selection for enormous size? It just would not be efficient in this particular niche to be so large. What would it eat? There would have to be more than one of these enormous creatures running around to maintain a viable gene pool as well and a bunch of 20 foot tall land animals are bound to be discovered. I think it makes a good story, but I don’t think it is a good candidate for being a real animal.

  15. cfcbhoy responds:

    “In truth, as far as I know there has only ever been one report of a 20 ft tall hairy hominid on Ben MacDhui. There is no need to take it seriously. The rest of the reports of the ‘Big Grey Man’ seem to involve more ghostly apparitions or wierd feelings and sounds.”

    Glad someone else posted this, the big grey man, if anything is more supernatural than cryptozoological. Climbers that encounter it generally report hearing heavy breathing or footsteps and rarely see a thing, coupled with feelings of overwhelming depression or fear.

  16. sasdave responds:

    When I had my bigfoot sighting (mid to late 70’s) it was difficult to figure the height. It took 3 steps to cross the 32′ road. Is there a mathematical equation to figuring the creatures height. As it was walking not running.

  17. big max responds:

    I was climbing back down Ben MacDhui in May 1988 when I experienced the footsteps phenomenon mentioned by others. It was pretty misty and I was alone. But it was like ‘something’ was behind me, only 10 metres or so, keeping track of me. I back-tracked to see if anyone was there. I didn’t see anything, but it was weird enough to scare me, particularly as the sounds occurred both when I was moving or stationary. It was only after I told this story to a Glasgow cousin years later that I first heard about the Grey Man.

  18. captiannemo responds:

    One day I walked deep into a wooded gully where it was suddenly dead still.

    No sound not a breeze and an almost panic feeling that I had to get out of there.

    With the hair standing up on my arms I just slowly backed out.

    I somehow knew not to turn around just back out.

    I can understand the feeling.

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