“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is often just that little word, extra,” said Man Vs. Wild star Bear Grylls at a speaking engagement in Durban, South Africa. If anyone, Bear should know.
The 37-year old survivalist and T.V. star has captivated millions of viewers across the world with his death-defying wilderness skills. Since we’re currently giving away a Bear Grylls Ultimate Multi-Tool (contest rules below), I thought it was time to shed more light on one of the world’s greatest survivors.
The Birth of a Bear
Bear is British—you have probably gathered as much from his accent—and split his time as a child between Northern Ireland and the Isle of Wright. He learned to climb and sail from his father at an early age and it was his sister who gave him the nickname “Bear,” when he was just a week old. Always the outdoorsman, Bear became a Cub Scout at eight; he also learned to sky-dive and practiced karate in his youth.
Bear Joins the Army and Almost Dies
Like any proper survivor, Bear celebrated graduating from Birbeck University in London by spending a few months hiking in the Himalayas. From there, he joined the British Army and served as a trooper, survival instructor and patrol medic. In 1996, he suffered a near-fatal parachuting fall in Zambia, in which he landed on his back and partially crushed three vertebrae. It was initially unknown whether or not he would walk again. Yet, after 18 months of rehabilitation, Bear was back to full strength and ready to fulfill a goal he had been pursuing since his childhood.
Bear Climbs Everest at 23
When he was young, Bear’s father had shown him pictures of Mount Everest that had made an indelible impression. Since then, he had always had a goal of summiting the mountain, but the broken-back he suffered seriously jeopardized those aspirations:
I remember lying there during those long months of recovery and suddenly this dream that I had clung to so tightly and for so long, of climbing Everest, just felt a million miles away. It was beyond what I could believe and I remember vividly looking at the pictures my late father had given me of Everest years earlier, and taking them down. I dismissed it as something childish and something that could no longer become a reality.
Yet, on May 26 1998, Bear reached the summit of Everest, making him the youngest British climber to do so. His expedition had taken four months just on Everest’s southeast face alone. He was nearly killed on numerous occasions and three other climbers making the trek lost their lives.
Bear Gets Gnarly, Seriously Gnarly
Post climbing Everest, Bear was booming with enthusiasm and completed a string of survival feats, such as:
— Circumnavigating the UK on a jet ski
— Crossing the North Atlantic on an inflatable boat
— Having a dinner party in a hot air baloon at 25,000 feet
— Paramotoring over the Himalayas.
— Setting the record for the world’s longest free fall.
These freakish accomplishments couldn’t be ignored by the world of television for long. Bear made his media debut in a Sure deodorant commercial and in 2006, Bear’s current survival series, Man Vs. Wild, debuted and immediately found success. Today, it attracts over one billion viewers a year.
Win Bear’s Knife, Get Tough
We’re currently giving away a Bear Grylls’ signature 12-component ultimate multi-tool and to win all you need to do is advise Bear on how to get out of the following situation, which, considering his reputation, is totally realistic.
Bear is standing on a rock in the middle of the Amazon River wearing nothing but camouflage briefs. On one bank there is a nest full of anacondas. On the other, there is a vicious-looking jaguar. The river is full of piranhas.
Bear has possession of the following things: a coconut, a monkey, two Budweiser bottles and 10 palm leaves, in addition to his Ultimate Multi-Tool with 12 components. Give Bear advice on how to escape to safety by entering your answer in the comment field below.
You must submit your entry (and you can only submit one) prior to Friday 10 p.m. Central Time. Then, we’ll pick our top three favorites and publish them on the blog for readers to vote on. Be creative. Be imaginative. Good luck!