At times you find something precious in piles of rubble, though it wasn’t piles of rubble, this book was found in a second hand book shop and cost only 100 rupees. May be no one knew the importance of this book and sold it in a second hand book shop, and there it lay for someone to take it. “Facing up : Bear Grylls” that’s what the people saw when passed by the book stall, but one of my friend picked it up and only then I realized that it was a book by Bear Grylls. As soon as she bought it even before she had a time to read it, I asked her to lend me the book. I wanted to read the book by the most fearless guy we have ever known, at least that’s what we see. A confident, fearless and a mad ex British army who’s now a survivor expert and runs a TV show of similar manner. I wanted to read this book even more when I learned that it was about his Everest adventure.
Like I said before, the Bear Grylls most of us know is what we see in the TV, a strong, confident and a bold man who does things we can barely think of doing. He is a superhuman of the real, non-fictional world for us. I was looking forward to reading his bravery on Everest, how he conquered Everest and how arrogantly he has written about it in his book. But only at last chapter of the book I learned that how he didn’t Conquer the Everest, rather how Everest “ The Goddess of the Sky” let him Live! This book has to be one of the most inspirational book that I have ever read. I learned about a different side of Bear Grylls, and his story has inspired me a lot.
I had previously heard the story of Bear being an ex-army but I didn’t know why he had left the army, I had thought he just left the army to run a tv show dealing with survivor skills, but the book starts with his horrific accident with faulty parachute that crashed him in dessert floor in Africa. The accident had left him seriously injured, just cheating death by a narrow margin, and ending his career as an army, the doctors on the other hand thought he’d not be able to run again. But gradually, he got better with time and one day out of nowhere he decided to make an attempt on the summit of highest mountain on Earth. That decision shows the mental pressure he had to go through after coming from that accident and how he promised to never do anything reckless and would a normal life to his parents were soon about to change. It took a long time for him to convince his family, and in the end he got a green signal and a good support. But his desperate attempt to get a sponsor to get him going is something that laid him back, but still he was determined to scale the mountain. The few early chapters deals with how he thought about climbing and his struggles with sponsorship and training. The main part starts after he leaves England and starts the long journey towards the Highest Peak.
I was eagerly waiting for the part where he starts the trek, I was expecting him to go on about how easy it was for him to trek to the Everest Base Camp after he got off from the Helicopter in Lukla, but to my dismay, I learned that he suffered much on his way, fighting the altitude sickness. He is a man after all, but what I had expected was a result of my comparison of the Bear Grylls that we see now in TV with the Bear who was 23 and on the way to the Summit of Mount Everest. It was intriguing to see the fearless Bear Grylls as I knew afraid and shocked to what lay ahead of him. The major shock was how he writes about getting altitude sickness even before he reached the Base Camp. I was hoping for an arrogant write up where he goes on about how easy the trek was for him, but instead the hardship he had to go through changed my view. The best thing about the book for me is I saw a different Bear Grylls, and a new found respect for him.
A new insight on Bear Grylls was laid in the later chapters, specially dealing with his time in the Base camp’s, his strenuous training back and forth the different camp sites on the way to Everest. He goes on to describe how, on his first attempt to high camp, he fell down into a Crevasse and nearly lost his life, the struggle he faced during his stay shows a different Bear Grylls that we know off. That determination he had at an age of 23 is something worth the praise. Half of the book shows his struggles and how he coped and made the right decision, how patience pays off in the mountains. His spirit to never give up is scattered around in every single chapter. It’s a story about a 23 year old kid, who went on the climb the Everest successfully, younger people have done it now but still to have done that with minimal and low budget gadgets as he describes is something extraordinary. Now as people say it’s easy to climb Everest, back in 98 it was still a tough job and just two years before, 96 saw death of so many acclaimed mountaineers including the experience and expert Climber Rob Hall.
Even after climbing Everest, the arrogance part, which I was expecting doesn’t show up in Bear Grylls, Instead a profound respect is all he shows to the Everest, ending the last chapter with. “It was not me who Conquered the Everest, it was Everest who allowed me to crawl up to her and let me live. Also he mentions in the book that he’d never ever climb any of the 26000+ mountains again. May be he forgot about that dialogue later when he went on above Everest in a Parajet Paramotor setting a new record, sailing above Everest at around 9000 meters altitude which was a reckless thing to do, still he did it well.
The book motivated me well enough that I will definitely give Everest a try once in my life time, not sure when but I will try at least once. I remember the line where he said, he brought a small stone from the summit of the Mount Everest, I once brought a small rock from around 5000 meters for a friend but all I got was “What do I do with that Ugly rock” may be the one that Ill bring from the summit of Everest will make that Friend happy, that encourages me more! Plus I want to see what it feels like to be in Hillary Step, to watch over vastness of Tibet on one side and the plains of Nepal on the other. How it feels to see the curvature of the earth from the highest place on earth, how it feels to run out of Land to walk on, stepping on the summit of mount Everest.
Post Script: I know it sounds idiotic, but I wanted to write this, not being arrogant or anything but it gave a little confident when I read that Bear Grylls had hard time coping with altitude sickness at 4000 meters, I have been to around 5500 meters without of feeling anything! I know it’s nothing but still it encouraged me, with enough training and determination, I feel like I can do it too. I’m not sure if I ever will, I’m not going to make a promise, but if things work out, I will definitely try it once, I really want to! But climbing Everest takes a lot more than saying “I will Climb Everest” once! But nonetheless, I have a dream to climb it once!