ExWeb interview with polar skier on Bear Grylls' cold water survival episode

Posted: Jul 27, 2007 05:08 am EDT

(MountEverest.net/ThePoles.com) "Hey lads, do us a favour next time you refer to Bear Grylls in an article can you make it really clear that he was in the SAS TA (21)" said a reader email today. Seems there's a big difference between the 'real' SAS (22) and SAS TA (21) - part of the Territorial Army. Seems also that Grylls and Discovery have had lots of people upset with their show and claims, and for good reason.

Arctic skier's comment, "What is he doing?"

Bear reportedly left SAS 21 TA following a parachute accident. We don't know what happened back then, but we do know that after his 1998 Everest summit, Bear was airlifted from BC with frostbite to his feet. He managed to get these in spite of being in a commercial expedition climbing on supplementary oxygen, and in fairly good weather.

Dramatically increasing since the arrival of (commercially led) inexperienced climbers on Everest; frostbite in the "old times" usually only happened to people climbing on no (or bad) oxygen, or in jet-wind type storms (compare to independent Karakoram climbers this season).

While team ExWeb hasn't followed the Man vs. Wild series, we did check out a youtube link sent to us by the community. Youtube on Grylls

In this link, 'Harry Hill' shows episodes from the series including a section where Grylls teaches survival after falling into an ice hole. ExWeb double checked Bear's technique with one of ExWeb's own; Tina Sjogren who - in an unsupported skiing trip to the North Pole - actually did fall through the ice into the Arctic Ocean, wearing no survival suit.

"What is he doing?" Tina commented the youtube burp in disbelief. "And who dug those hand-holds for him?"

Nothing wrong with inexperience - it's another matter when taught to an audience

"There were two problems when I fell in the water," Tina says. "1. There were no holds to grab when I tried to get out. 2. The thin edge of the ice kept breaking off under my weight."

Spotting her ski pole floating around, Tina managed to catch it and swim to a thicker section of the ice, where she could drag herself up using the sharp tip of the pole. "It's important to know that you have more time than you think in the water. Don't panic, and don't kick about. Take a deep breath before hauling yourself out - the air in your lungs will increase your buoyancy."

And on Bear's push-ups in the nude, "I definitely did not strip afterwards. That would have been extremely stupid - leading to instant hypothermia," she said. "Wet or dry, the clothes will insulate, giving you enough time to find a suitable place to make camp. You can roll in the snow to remove excess water from the clothing if you want to, but if you strip you'll really find yourself fast in trouble!"

Tina survived the ordeal, along with 4 Everest expeditions, all without frostbite. "There's nothing wrong with inexperience, we've all been there," she adds, "but it's another matter when taught to a TV audience. Or when actors forget they're just that - it's like Sylvester Stallone starting to believe he actually is the World Heavyweight Champion."

Yet Tina has a reservation to make, "I have a hard time to believe the episode. Is it Bear for real? Eating a raw fish right after, too? That's the last thing you'd want to do - plus it's bad for you. Perhaps it's a comedy interpretation? I don't know what to think anymore. Why would people even want to watch this?"

Parental advisory about "documentary" fairy tales

A quick google on the subject reveals that the training for the 'Bear SAS' (21 TA) is a shortened version of the regular SAS selection - where most 21 TA's never make it. Bear's apparently pretending to be - but not being a "real" SAS is just one of the things that have ticked people off.

The main question remains though - how Discovery and sloppy documentary film makers will adjust to the criticism. Media can't fabricate stories and claim they're real: Fairy tales need to be advertised as exactly that - anything else is deception.

Last week, ExWeb ran the story "Pilots say prove it" written by British journalist Tarquin Cooper about Bear Grylls' alleged flight over the summit of Mt Everest. Turned out, it wasn't a flight over Everest after all. But it was too late - the media crew had already spread the incorrect news worldwide.

ExWeb did the story with respect to the 2004 spectacular over Everest flight of British Microlight pilot Richard Meredith-Hardy and Italian hang-glider pilot Angelo D'Arrigo. The two stunned the entire mountain as they came soaring toward the summit. Angelo fulfilled a dream that was four years in the making. He prepared extensively for the project by working in hypobaric chambers and testing gear in a wind tunnel.

Angelo d'Arrigo died on March 26, 2006 when a small Sky Arrow plane piloted by a retired military general fell 200 meters to the ground. Angelo left behind the wild birds he'd taught to fly, and a world of mourning fellow explorers for his courageous, no BS spirit of adventure.

Tina Sjogren and her husband Tom skied to both earth's geographic poles back-to-back and without airsupport, climbed Everest in their own expedition, crossed from Europe to South America in an old sailboat, and did a number of other treks and trips - including in the Amazon and Borneo rain forests. No film crews, no media - just the real deal.

#Mountaineering #Polar #Opinion #interview

Tina paying tribute to the North Pole. Image ExplorersWeb files (click to enlarge).