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.
The previous year, 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.
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'. The book has touched people worldwide through its enduring honesty, courage and humility. Bear has always been a popular guest on television shows, which have included, 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 and Ready Steady Cook, Channel Four's Richard & Judy and radio programs such as Radio 1, Radio 2 & Five Live.
Bear's first TV break came when he was approached to star in a 'Sure For Men' deodorant TV commercial. This featured the story of Bear's Everest climb and what makes him most nervous! The commercial was voted campaign of the week on its release.
In 2003 Bear successfully completed another ground breaking expedition, leading a team across the freezing Arctic Ocean in a small open rigid inflatable boat and suffering weeks of frozen spray and icebergs. The expedition was filmed for a documentary and helped to raise funds for the Prince's Trust charity. The book on this remarkable journey, 'Facing the Frozen Ocean', 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 store Harrod's. 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 one hour programs for a TV series called 'Man vs Wild' on Discovery Channel Worldwide, and also an eight-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! The show went on to become the No. 1 cable show in America. The book accompanying the 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 point above Mount Everest. Sponsored by GKN, the team raised over one million dollars in the process for Global Angels and children's charities worldwide.
Bear lives with his wife Shara on a boat on the Thames in London, and also on a small Welsh island. They have two little boys called Jesse and Marmaduke.
Founding Director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation (CSLi) at the University of Texas
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