His name alone evokes the fierce, the untapped and the unruly. He encompasses all that’s male, wild and free. He’s stolen the prize from Ernest Hemingway and the medal from Rambo and any SAS/special forces touting man as the mythical adventurer who’s larger than life and living THE life that all men secretly wish they were.
He is Bear Grylls. Wild at Heart.
His die hard fans are email warriors trapped in their tiny 4×4 cubicles, fighting weary, spiteful battles of wit and backstabbing while longing for the wide, open savannah, or deep jade forests to wander through freely; conquering, pillaging and eating the heads off dangerous rattle snakes. Every week in living rooms in the western hemisphere, dudes congregate in droves around their plasma screens in the relative safety of their padded settees, tweeting each other with delight and hooting at the screen with their sons on their laps, watching in wonder as Bear lunges headlong into a beehive and emerges with a swollen face from the rapid fire stings carrying a large honeycomb as his prize.
Edward Michael Grylls, nicknamed ‘Bear’ by his sister, (born 7 June 1974) is a British adventurer, writer and television presenter best known for his television series Born Survivor, known as Man vs. Wild in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
He is one of the youngest Britons to climb Mount Everest, doing so at age 23. In July 2009, Grylls was appointed the youngest ever Chief Scout at the age of 35. After leaving school, Grylls considered joining the Indian Army and spent a few months hiking in the Himalayan mountains of Sikkim and West Bengal, Assam. From 1994 to 1997, after passing United Kingdom Special Forces Selection, he served in the part-time United Kingdom Special Forces Reserve, with 21 Regiment Special Air Service, 21 SAS(R), as a trooper, survival instructor and Patrol Medic.
Got to love Bear! But instead of envy this man who’s Eton educated, learned to climb and sail at an early age, earned a second dan black belt in Shotokan karate as a teenager practices yoga and ninjitsu, speaks English, Spanish, and French and is a happily married christian with three sons: Jesse, Marmaduke, and Huckleberry (big breath), we ought to celebrate him even more. Why? For having the courage to step out of the conventional!
His heart stopping, adrenaline packed TV show, features Grylls climbing cliffs, parachuting from helicopters, balloons, and planes, paragliding, ice climbing, running through a forest fire, wading rapids, eating snakes, wrapping his urine-soaked t-shirt around his head to help stave off the desert heat, drinking urine saved in a rattlesnake skin, drinking fecal liquid from elephant dung, wrestling alligators, field dressing a camel carcass and drinking water from it, eating various “creepy crawlies” [insects], turning the corpse of a sheep into a sleeping bag and flotation device, and free climbing waterfalls. Grylls also regales the viewer with tales of adventurers stranded or killed in the wilderness. Buyer beware!
The show has galvanised the imagination of many for the wild and resurrected an interest in men to be explorers, adventurers – even if it’s of their own backyard. I now know of men who are taking up spear fishing, rock climbing and trekking as a result of Man Vs Wild. It’s a revolution that’s healthy and much needed …
What Bear Grylls has done for the male psyche in the post modern, high tech, gadget swamped world we live in, is remind men that they were made to be WILD and FREE. He’s given men permission to be men, especially at a time when many have felt emasculated by feminism and lost in lives of despair, especially the malicious, dog eat dog arena that is today’s clean, corporate, murderous blue chip world. (Please note MSP is not anti corporate, we’re just observers of the link between men denying their true nature and their high levels of dissatisfaction, even times depression at their lot in life … if only more men had the courage to be wild!!)
What other crazy things has Bear Grylls attempted? Here a few more teasers:
In 2000, Grylls circumnavigated the UK on a personal watercraft or jet ski, a trip that took about 30 days, to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
In 2003, he crossed the North Atlantic and battling gale force winds, hypothermia, icebergs and storms in an eleven-metre-long boat through some of the most treacherous stretches of water in the world including the Labrador Sea, the Denmark Strait, and the stretch made famous by the film, The Perfect Storm.
In 2005, Grylls led the first team ever to attempt to paramotor over the remote jungle plateau of the Angel Falls in Venezuela, the world’s highest waterfall.
In 2005, alongside the balloonist and mountaineer David Hempleman-Adams and Lieutenant Commander Alan Veal, leader of the Royal Navy Freefall Parachute Display Team, Grylls created a world record for the highest open-air formal dinner party, which they did under a hot-air balloon at 25,000 feet, dressed in full mess dress and oxygen masks. To train for the event, he made over 200 parachute jumps.
In 2007, Grylls claimed to have broken a new world record by flying a Parajet paramotor over the Himalayas, higher than Mount Everest. Grylls took off from 14,500 feet, 8 miles south of the mountain. Grylls reported looking down on the summit during his ascent and coping with temperatures of −60 °C. He endured dangerously low oxygen levels and eventually reached 29,500 feet, almost 10,000 feet higher than the previous record of 20,019 feet.
Bear Grylls. Hear him ROAR!!!! (Now go do some roaring yourself. Find a mate and go fishing for a shark or something … go on … you know you want to!)
Update December 2010: Grylls’ latest project is TV series ‘Worst Case Scenario’ which airs on Discovery Channel worldwide. It is based on the popular books of the same name.