Last night on Man Vs. Wild, Bear Grylls was inches from death. Literally. Had his cameraman and director of photography, Simon Peay, collided with Bear’s head, Bear would have died.
Thus far, the new season of Man Vs. Wild has been insane. He’s flirted with death in every episode. If he isn’t swimming with sharks, he is fighting a crocodile for a fish in North Queensland waters and, if he isn’t fighting a croc then he nearly dies in a situation that he and his crew are supposed to have complete control over. As I talk about this episode, the reader will learn the exact situation that put Bear and his cameraman inches from death. The situation might surprise you.
This episode got me thinking. Bear’s been filming Man Vs. Wild for three years now. I think the man is addicted to this lifestyle now. Perhaps he isn’t but this episode featured survival methods Bear has done multiple times in the past already. Any loyal fan knows this.
This week, Bear was in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia. Instead of the usual, Bear and the crew created different survival scenarios such as a blizzard, an avalanche, icy waters and a glissade down a mountain. Bear wanted to demonstrate how to survive the most catastrophic situations in the bitter cold. He sure earns his paycheck with this episode, folks. Here are the usual highlights:
-The first scenario was an avalanche. In Patagonia, Bear witnessed an avalanche but did not get caught or buried in one. In this scenario, Bear will bury himself beneath 12 feet of snow to simulate an actual survival situation. Most people die buried 2 feet under. The crew set off four explosives to create the avalanche because Bear wanted to time how long it’d take for rescuers to rescue someone trapped. The information he attained from this exercise was used for his own situation. Bear decides he’ll bury himself alive for 12 minutes under the snow. The proper medical equipment is hooked up to him so he can be monitored; meanwhile, he has a device to make his breathing fit into the scenario as well so that oxygen slowly disappears as time passes. Right off the bat, Bear is flirting with death because if the diggers can’t get to him quickly when the time comes, Bear could die.
While buried, Bear tells a story about a close of friend of his who died in an avalanche. Bear adds softly that he doesn’t like avalanches. As he sits, the oxygen leaves the air. He has a tough time breathing. Eventually, he’s suffering. But the time elapses and the diggers get him safely. He compares the oxygen returning to his lungs to a light that goes on in a dark house. It sounds like a description being near death through suffocation because, as Bear tells us, suffocation is what kills someone trapped underneath an avalanche.
-The next scenario is a massive blizzard. Bear experienced this while in Iceland. For this, the crew had two huge fans along with small weather stations to make sure the conditions were blizzard-like. Bear advises against fighting the blizzard because the wind will kill you. One must take shelter. The shelter is the snow itself. What one does is dig a deep hole so that it shields you from the wind. I’ve seen Bear implement this method several times in the series. Nothing new with this scenario of surviving a blizzard unless you’re a first-time viewer, in which case you learned something.
-The icy lake was next. Bear never seemed to enjoy himself when he plunged into icy waters in the Arctic Circle or Siberia or anywhere. The plunge and the swim has to be torture. Naturally, Bear is wearing a heart monitor to track his BPM. Simon has a thermal camera to show how cold Bear’s body gets. Bear has to swim 80 feet in the water. Before diving in, he says the icy waters are different when he’s in ‘journey mode’ because he doesn’t stop to think; however, diving in like one dives into a swimming pool is a different beast. He dives in and then surfaces quickly because the trick is to slow one’s heartbeat down because the cold water sends the body into panic mode. Every time Bear went into icy waters, he always made sure he calmed his heart rate down because cardiac arrest is a risk. His BPM drops to 88. He spends nearly five minutes in the water. In his narration he describes the body’s way of surviving by decreasing blood flow. On the surface, his body temperature fell from 88 degrees to 32 degrees.
When Bear leaves the water, his number goal priority is preventing frostbite. Bear rolls in the snow as a way to dry his body (hey it works and he’s done it before) before putting his clothes on. He must start a fire or else he might die from blood flow. Bear gets a fire going quickly and then makes himself tea. As he sips his tea, he RETIRES from diving into icy waters. It’s about time, Bear. He admits he always hated icy waters.
I wondered: can a regular person survive what Bear just survived? He must be in superior shape. He’s climbed Everest twice after all. CHIME IN with your opinion in the comments.
-After three insane challenges, Bear settles down to show the viewer how to make good shelter in a bitterly cold place. The show flashbacks to Siberia when Bear spent a night in minus 30 degree temperatures. Now, personally, I’d like to live in a shack in Siberia. I digress. Bear builds a great shelter and a great fire. In the morning, we find out his shelter was 66 degrees (thanks to the fire and the way he built the shelter) while the British Columbian night had temperatures in the low-20s.
-The final challenge is the icy glissade. In the Yukon, Bear lost his footing and slid down the mountain. Bear wanted to determine the speed of someone doing this as well as the length it takes to stop the slide. Bear tells a story about his wife and son who nearly fell off a cliff but stopped just shy of the edge. I’m not surprised The Grylls family climbs cliffs in Bear’s downtime.
From when Bear began to dig his hands into the snow to stop the slide until he stopped, the distance was 180 feet. Bear stresses the importance of being aware of your environment so no one falls off the edge of a cliff. The second time, Bear uses an ice axe to stop; meanwhile, Simon follows Bear on a sled from behind. Once Bear stops, a white cloud of snow hides Bear from Simon’s sight. Simon collides with Bear. The camera breaks and the crew thinks one or both of them could be dead. Good God. Luckily, Simon did not nail Bear in the head. The crew thinks Bear’s femur might be broken. Simon’s nose is busted. Bear is teary-eyed. Simon talks about the fear he felt. The two are airlifted to a hospital.
An insane ending in yet another insane episode of Man Vs. Wild this season. I hope I never see a glisside again on the show nor a dive into icy waters. I will welcome the return of swimming with sharks or fighting a croc for fish OR staring down 200 elephants and WINNING.
Next week, Bear is in The Caucasus Mountains. In which country? Who knows. Hopefully it is матери России.
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