I read a piece in our local free paper that drew my attention, it as a ‘look what our local lads are up too.’ Crossing Everest under a paramotor was the story, two remarkable young guys were the ‘local color.’ I had met one of them, Bear Grylls, previously at a fund raiser. He was appearing for a joint services charity gig at a local private school (closed for the holidays) in front of a mixed bunch of currect/retired military people mixed liberally with the comfortable middle classes, the odd mountaineer and sundry Joe public.
At a little over twenty as an SAS soldier enjoying a spot of R&R in Africa, he had experienced a parachute malfunction during free fall. The chute had partially inflated and taken him to the bush floor where he slammed into the ground breaking his back in two places. They flew him home in rather a bad way and after a short interval he became the youngest person to climb Everest at just twenty three! As ‘simple’ as that.
We all watched with rapt attention as he built a picture of his early life and its lead up to the climbing and summiting of the great mountain. It was inspiring and humbling at the same time. (Well worth the twenty five quid, they even threw in a very good Chinese meal afterwards prepared by the school staff.) Yes, I bought his (signed) book; I read it in a single sitting like most other people I have lent it to.
Now out of the Army and presumably facing an uncertain future, a Bear needed to find his honey and a new direction. This soldier turned writer/explorer has now bounced across a number of projects devouring and exploiting them (all in the best sense) to generate and sustain his emerging public persona. As you will see from his website he is a fascinating character driven by his need to achieve, his faith and enthusiasm for life. Discovery documentaries, records and remarkable achievements are being ticked off at a considerable rate but it was his return to Everest with Giles Cardoza which caught my imagination and the Paramotors they took with them.
Keep an eye out for him, he is quite a guy and if you feel inclined, read his books.