1. In 1996, during a skydive, Grylls’s parachute ripped apart at nearly 16,000 feet, breaking his back.
Back when Grylls was still a newbie with his squadron during the time he served with the British SAS, him and some of his mates were out on a skydiving adventure for some R&R (rest and recuperation). It was then that his parachute malfunctioned and tore mid-fall – at about 16,000 feet. Grylls spiralled to the southern African sand and broke his back in three different places, spending the next year and a half in an out-of-military rehab.
Sometimes it takes a knock in life to make you realise what you really value. I left that hospital with a fire inside to live life boldly and with gratitude. I had been given a second chance and that doesn’t always happen.
2. In 1998, it was during the last leg of his climb atop Everest when dehydration and a blinding migraine hit him.
Having scaled up till the final camp at South Col at 26,000 feet before the final leg of the climb up to the peak of Mount Everest, four members from the team had already lost their lives. Grylls claims that he knew it was the final bit of the ascent over the next 24 hours that would change him forever, when he suddenly went down, severely dehydrated and blinded by a migraine. Grylls claims that this was one of his scariest moments ever. Since, statistically only one of six climbers survive that final leg.
It was the waiting. The tension of knowing that ahead is the final 24-hour climb into the Death Zone where the level of fatigue, pain and risk becomes frighteningly high. One in 6 climbers at that stage were losing their lives, and that plays on your mind as you wait.
3. In 2003, Bear Grylls realized it was a really bad idea trying to cross the North Atlantic Ocean in an inflatable boat.
Bear Grylls was part of five members huddled together on a rigid inflatable boat, set on a 3000 mile journey across the Atlantic. It was then that a violent storm hit the tiny boat and threw everyone into chaos. Being constantly beaten to and fro by the ocean surface, the men soon realised how ambitious the project was.
With broken down electronics, the crew was blind and mute to any rescue operation that could’ve saved them from the freezing waters in case they were to capsize. The crew somehow made it through the storm and reached Icelandic shores, but Grylls swears that this would’ve turned into a definite death sentence. One that he barely scratched through.
They say there is no such thing as an atheist in a lifeboat, but for me it is more than that. When life’s fluff is blown away we sometimes encounter a clarity through the fog that we can be hard to find in everyday life.
4. Grylls almost drowned in a river in the Sumatra jungle back in 2009.
This was during filming a river sequence for the show Born Survivor (or as we know it,Man Vs Wild) in the Sumatra jungle. A three-member filming crew squeezed onto a tiny raft were to follow Grylls who would be flowing free in a river hiding fallen trees, branches, logs, rocks, and of course, crocodiles. Grylls was suddenly caught into a rapid and smashed against a large rock, where his leg got stuck in the undergrowth and he was pulled underwater.
With just one hand outstretched above the water, the filming thankfully noticed him and were smashed against the same rock, at which point one crew member caught hold of him and pulled him over. I mean how many times does he think luck will favour him?
That hand saved my life. And it taught me a critical survival lesson: you only get it wrong once.
5. Bear Grylls almost had his skull cracked open by a collision with a camera and the camera man.
While shooting the episode, The Foot, for Man Vs Wild, Bear Grylls placed himself in three ridiculously dangerous scenarios of survival, before moving onto the fourth. But, it was the last one where he was to slide down the face of a snowy mountain in the Yukon in Canada, when he slipped, and soon after, so did the camera operator. Hidden by a cloud of snow from the operator’s sight, Grylls was in the direct path of his crew member, who banged right into him with the camera – which broke apart.
They say that the crew members in a moment of shock were absolutely sure that the camera cracked open Grylls’s skull, but it missed by only a hair’s breadth. And, Bear Grylls walked – rather was dragged – away with just a broken femur. This, by the way, was on the face of mountain with hundreds of feet below them of nothing.