Adventurer Bear Grylls tells RUSS BRAVO why he pushes himself to the limit in some of the world’s most dangerous places
Have you always had a thirst for adventure?
I was brought up in the Isle of Wight where my late father taught me to climb. It was my way of being close to him. It also gave me an identity that I could achieve something special.
My father instilled in me the belief that what mattered was to follow your dreams and look after those you love. His Christian faith was quiet but was a backbone. I learnt that faith is a sign of great strength in many great men.
What do you particularly remember about your three years in the SAS?
The friendships formed from often being cold and scared together. But above all, the SAS gave me a quiet confidence that I could do difficult things. That has held me through many adventures since.
What brought you through after your parachuting accident in 1996?
Headley Court, the Army rehab centre, was amazing. I had broken three vertebrae and was so lucky not to have been paralysed.
My family and friends helped me rebuild that hope that I could climb again. We take for granted our health and movement. Having nearly lost it, I know that life is precious and we must live it boldly and grab it. We only normally get one shot but I had been given a precious second chance at life.
At 23, you became the youngest British climber to reach the summit of
Everest, yet you almost died doing it. Why didn't that stop you pushing yourself to the limit?
My accident gave me the drive to make some of my dreams a reality. But dreams have a price, and on Everest we had four climbers lose their lives. It shook my faith and confidence. I was swallowed by a 300ft deep crevasse, but Mick, my best buddy and Nima, a Nepalese climber, saved my life.
All of these incidents knocked me, but they also made me aware that it takes very little for something very big to go wrong. It is why I double check everything. But I thrive on those moments and working as a team to overcome hairy situations.
What are the best and worst things about your TV work?
Best – working with a small team of friends in often very remote, very cold or hot locations, working under quite a lot of pressure and then coming home. The worst bit is being away from my family. I have three young boys and a gorgeous wife, and I don't cope that well with being apart [from them].
How do you respond to critics who’ve claimed you're not in the wilds as much as the show suggests?
They should come and film with us or just ask our crew! You are going to get good press and bad press. I take them both with a bucket of salt and try to get on with my work and do my best.
Do you think you should settle for a quieter, less risky life?
Often! But all of this is one of the few things I can do well. My real job is to manage the risk and trust my instincts. I have a lot to stay alive for and am actually ultra careful.
How much of an inspiration is your Christian faith?
It is my everything. The truth is that I am nothing without it. It is the source of my strength and courage in hard moments.
To have the Creator beside me, holding me, forgiving me, strengthening me and helping me, is my great secret and backbone. And it’s all a gift. That is the power of grace and it never fails to thrill me.
I fall so often it is unreal, but through it all I know ultimately I am held.
Look out for the new series of Born Survivor and a feature film based on the show to be aired next year. Further information from www.beargrylls.com
UPDATE: Bear Grylls is appointed Chief Scout – see our story HERE
Bear Grylls is among 12 inspirational people from the UK featured in a new book called Inspire, by Oliver Chittenden. Face to face interviews are teamed with specially commissioned portraits by photographer Sam Pelly, as the author explores their lives, and remarkable stories. Find out more and order the book (price £20 + P&P) from www.theinspirebook.com
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