Bear Grylls – All That Is Man

Bear eating fish

Bear Grylls is a man’s man. He makes your annual camping trip look like a luxurious stay at a five star hotel. He makes the TV show Survivor look like a bunch of cry babies on a rough vacation. And he makes any meal that is cooked seem extravagant.

Bear is famous for his TV show Man vs. Wild which drops him into various remote wilderness survival situations – Grylls must overcome various obstacles as he fights his way back to civilization. However the show, and Bear Grylls, receives flak for staging certain events and misleading the audience into believing Bear receives no assistance from his crew. I am not going to argue that the show is 100% accurate, or try to assess how difficult the stunts are. Instead, I will point to real elements from Bear Grylls’s life that exemplify his manliness.

After college Bear Grylls joined the British Army and was selected for the uber-competitive British Special Forces as a paratrooper. How bad ass is he for getting in? They start with around 200 top notch candidates and after intense physical training for a couple weeks, only 30 to 40 remain. Next comes jungle training (where Bear likely picked up a lot of his skills on the show), combat survival, escape and evasion, and the dreaded resistance to interrogation (which lasts for a loooong 36 hours). Everyone that makes it to the end is rewarded with a favorable transfer, but only the best are allowed in the Special Forces. Bear Grylls was reportedly one of four in his class selected.

His life doesn’t get much easier from here. In 1996 his parachute ripped on a routine jump, sending him crashing to the ground with tremendous speed. He landed on his pack and the result was 3 crushed vertebrae – it was initially unclear if Bear Grylls would ever walk again. Because Bear was in top physical condition, he was able to forgo the traditional surgery to fuse his vertebrae back together, and instead began a regimen of 10 hours of physical therapy a day.

With his military career effectively over, Bear Grylls turned his focus to other areas. One of his goals since childhood had always been to climb Mount Everest, and this became his motivation for recovery. Only 18 months after breaking his back, Bear made it to the summit of Everest becoming (at the time) the youngest Briton at 23. Once again, he almost died but lived to write a book about the experience, The Kid Who Climbed Everest.

Over the last 10 years Bear has kept up his habit of ridiculously manly activities. Some highlights:

  • Led the first team to circumnavigate the UK on jet skis, taking about 30 days*
  • Rowed naked for 22 miles in a homemade bathtub along the Thames*
  • Made the first unassisted crossing of the north Atlantic Arctic Ocean in an open rigid inflatable boat. They endured bitter cold and less than perfect conditions in the region made famous by The Perfect Storm.
  • Took a powered paraglider over the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls in Venezula
  • Had an open air dinner party at 25,000 feet complete with formal British military dress and oxygen masks
  • Shattered the record for highest powered paraglider flight, reaching 29,500 feet over the Himalayas. He endured low oxygen again and temperatures reaching -60 degrees Celsius!
  • Went to Antarctica to conquer an unclimbed peak, but broke his shoulder kite skiing at 30 miles per hour*
  • Broke the record for longest indoor freefall of 96 minutes*
  • Led a team on an ice-breaking rigid-inflatable boat on a 2,500 mile journey through the Northwest Passage (north of Canada)*

And just to rub it in our faces how awesome he is, all the * stunts were done for charity. Everyone that believes Bear Grylls is less of a man than he is depicted on his television show is wrong. He is All That Is Man. What have you done with your life?

Here is a short clip to give you an idea of the stunts Bear does on Man vs. Wild. There are a lot more available on YouTube:


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