Every year the death toll on Mount Everest rises, and for every ten mountaineers who make it to the top, one will die. Yet at 7.22am on May 26th 1998, Bear entered The Guinness Book of Records as the youngest, and one of only around thirty, British climbers to have successfully climbed Everest and returned alive. He was only 23 years old.
The actual ascent took Bear over ninety days of extreme weather, limited sleep and running out of oxygen deep inside the ‘death zone’ (above 26,000 feet). On the way down from his first reconnaissance climb, Bear was almost killed in a crevasse at 19,000 feet. The ice cracked and the ground disappeared beneath him, he was knocked unconscious and came to swinging on the end of a rope. His team-mate and that rope saved his life. The expedition was raising funds for the Rainbow Trust and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.
Previously, in 1997, Bear had become the Youngest Briton to climb Mount Ama Dablam in the Himalayas (22,500 feet), a peak once described by Sir Edmund Hillary as unclimbable’.
Prior to the Everest Expedition, Bear, also a Karate Black Belt, spent three years with the British Special Air Service (21 SAS). What makes his story even more remarkable is that during this time he suffered a free-fall parachuting accident in Africa where he broke his back in three places. After months and months of rehabilitation, focusing always on his childhood dream of Everest, he slowly became strong enough to attempt the ultimate ascent of the world’s highest peak.
Bear has a natural talent for communication and his speaking and TV shows has brought him worldwide acclaim. As a motivational speaker, he has addressed corporations all around the world on his experiences on Everest and how these can help us in our life and business environments. He is among the youngest and most successful speakers in the world.
Bear’s first book, ‘Facing Up’, went into the top-10 best seller list, and was launched in the USA titled, ‘The Kid who climbed Everest’. Worldwide this book has touched people through its enduring honesty, courage and humility. Bear has always been a popular guest on television shows, which have included, amongst many others, the Oprah Show and Jay leno’s Tonight show in the USA and in the UK: BBC’s’: Friday night with Jonathon Ross, Heaven and Earth, BBC’s Ready Steady Cook, Channel Four’s Richard & Judy, GMTV, and radio programmes such as Radio 1, Radio 2 & Five Live.
Bear first TV break came when he was approached to star in a ‘Sure For Men’ deodorant TV commercial (Rexona, worldwide). This featured the story of Bear’s Everest climb and what makes him most nervous! The advert was awarded campaign of the week on its release.
In 2003 Bear successfully completed another ground breaking expedition, leading a team across the freezing North Atlantic Arctic Ocean in a small open rigid inflatable boat. Suffering weeks of frozen spray and icebergs, the expedition was filmed for a documentary, and was raising funds for the Prince’s Trust charity. The book on this remarkable journey, ‘Facing the Frozen Ocean’, and was short-listed as Sports Book of the Year, and Bear was awarded an Honorary commission in the Royal Navy for this record-breaking feat.
Bear was also used by the UK Ministry of Defence to head the Army’s anti-drugs TV campaign, and featured in the first ever major advertising campaign for the world renowned shop: Harrods. His first major TV Series was for Channel Four, called ‘Escape to the Legion’, where he went through simulated basic training with Legionaires in North Africa and told the story of what it is like for a recruit to join the French Foreign Legion.
On the back of the success of the Foreign Legion Documentary, Bear was commissioned to present 15 x 1-hour programmes for a TV Series called ‘Man Vs Wild’ on Discovery Channel Worldwide, plus also an 8-part TV Series for Channel Four titled ‘Born Survivor: Bear Grylls’. These feature Bear being parachuted in to some of the most inhospitable deserts, jungles and mountains on earth and showing what you need to do to survive!
Man Vs Wild went on to become the No. 1 cable show in all of America and reaches a global audience of over 1.2 Billion viewers, making it one of the most recognised and watched programmes on the largest TV network on earth. To date the team have filmed over 45 x 1hr episodes.
The book accompanying the Born Survivor Channel 4 UK TV series stayed for 10 weeks in the Sunday Times Bestseller List.
In 2007, he became the first man to fly a powered paraglider to a height above Mount Everest in the Himalaya. Sponsored by GKN, the team raised over $1million in the process for Global Angels and children’s charities worldwide. 2008 also saw Bear lead a small team to climb one of the most remote un-climbed peaks in the world in Antarctica. This was raising funds for Global Angels kids charity and awareness for the potential of alternative energies, a cause very close to Bear’s heart. The expedition was using wind powered kite skiing, bio-ethanol powered jetskis, electric powered paragliders and good old footwork!
In 2009 Bear was voted by the Scouts to become their Chief Scout and figurehead to nearly 500,000 Scouts in the UK. He becomes the youngest Chief Scout in history.
Bear lives with his wife Shara on a boat on the Thames in London, and also on a small Welsh island. They have three little boys called Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry. They are the pride of Bear’s eyes.