Old cameras are cool and all, but when you find an old camera in a thrift store with unseen photos just waiting to be developed, there’s a certain kind of thrill to that. Portland, Oregon photographer Kati Dimoff knows this thrill very well. In fact, she’s someone who takes particular pleasure in finding old cameras in thrift stores. Whenever she gets the chance, Kati likes to find treasures that linger in the undeveloped film of lost and forgotten cameras.
Kati was browsing a Goodwill thrift store on Grand Avenue one day in 2017 when she stumbled upon a used camera. For her, it was like striking gold. The vintage Argus C2 held a trove of photos showing the dramatic 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens – an event that only a personal camera can capture so intensely. Her discovery led to a search for the camera’s original owner…
Her Most Prized Discovery Yet
Kati bought the camera, developed the old photos, and stared at the results. She was shocked to see what was being laid out before her eyes. In essence, the camera was like a time capsule, and finding this gem became her most prized discovery yet. Who knew that these forgotten photos were of such a forgotten disaster in history?
In Portland, it’s almost as though a love of photography comes with citizenship. Kati’s passion for photography requires even more patience than waiting for the film to process (she, like many others today, prefer film cameras over digital). She frequents local thrifts shops, looking for old cameras with undeveloped photos.
An Old Argus C2
She told The Oregonian in an interview that, “The first roll of undeveloped film I ever found had a photo of the Portland International Raceway in maybe the ’70s or the ’80s. That inspired me to keep looking for old film in Goodwill cameras.” And so, one day in Portland, she stepped into her favorite Goodwill and picked up an Argus C2 model.
The camera hadn’t been in production for 75 years, so yeah, it was old. The cartridge inside the camera appeared to be aged. Kati immediately bought it and rushed it over to a processing lab that specializes in developing old film. But they were missing something important.
In Awe of What She Was Looking At
The processing lab didn’t have the machinery to develop the more than 40-year-old photos in their original color. Since Kodachrome processing is no longer available, they couldn’t be printed in color. The good news was that they were able to process them in black-and-white. That was more than okay for Kati, who really just wanted them to hurry up and develop the photos!
When she arrived to pick up the prints, a note came with them. On the note was written: “Is this from the Mt. St. Helens’ eruption?” Indeed, the photos had Mount St. Helens in the background. Most of the images, once developed, revealed massive plumes of smoke – the kinds you see in movies.
The Notorious Mount St. Helens
The smoke plumes were seen drifting over Portland from the neighboring state of Washington. The smoke was coming from Mount St. Helens, the notorious volcano that erupted on May 18, 1980. You might remember reading about the disaster – a tragedy that ended up taking the lives of 57 people and causing over $1.1 billion in property damage.
Since the volcano was sitting in southern Washington State, the plumes of ash that it produced could be seen from nearby Portland. The lab workers made a purpose of telling Kati just how special her photos were considering their historical significance. While there was some damage here and there, the lab experts did a fantastic job.
Who is This Couple?
“Some of the shots showed Mount St. Helens way off in the distance with just the little puffs of ash from the beginning of the eruption, with the Longview bridge in view, so it must have been shot from just off Highway 30,” Kati told PetaPixel. Kati stood there as she stared at the photos in awe. And there was one particular photo that was enough to start her on a path to finding the camera’s owner.
As she examined the rest of the photos, she stumbled upon something else that struck her. One photo showed what appeared to be a couple standing in a yard with their baby.
Finding the Couple
The baby in the photo was being held by either its grandmother or great-grandmother – it was hard to tell. Kati felt an urge to find the camera’s original owners and tell them about this discovery she had made. Surely, if they were still around, they would want to see these never-before-seen photographs.
After all, they were the ones who were there to witness the event and take the photos! She needed to find them. But how? It comes as no surprise that Kati turned to the media to help her identify these smiling faces. Both the Mount St. Helens photos and the portrait were published in The Oregonian, a local newspaper. The Oregonian then shared the story across the region.
Her Call Was Answered
After Kati saw the piece in the newspaper and waited to see if anything turned up, she couldn’t help but wonder if the owners even remembered the camera. But then again, how could they forget such a memorable moment in history? They were, after all, taking photos of a disastrous volcano.
If she could find the family in the photo, she was sure that their reaction would be priceless. And just a few days later, Kati’s call was answered. The Oregonian article happened to catch the attention of a man named Melvin Purvis. He later described how he was scrolling through this article his buddy sent him when he nearly fell off his chair.
Belonging to His Grandmother
Not only did Melvin recognize the figures in the photo — he was actually one of them! Mel immediately picked up the phone and got in touch with The Oregonian, telling them all the details. He identified the reel as belonging to his late grandmother. He told Fox19: “I clicked on it and I went down through the photos, and there’s a picture of my wife, my grandmother, my son and myself.”
“So I said, ‘I think I know whose camera those photos came out of!’” Purvis also made the point of mentioning that since he has now lost both his grandmother and mother, it was a particularly touching moment for him. Finally, he could hold the last photo of them all together.
“I am not at all a religious person, but [it] kind of makes you wonder a little… The timing of it is remarkable, I guess.” He said how his grandmother passed away in 1981. He is unsure how it even ended up at a Goodwill store. The photo, taken in 1980, depicts Melvin, his wife, his grandmother and his son Tristan.
They were all preparing to go to a football game. Melvin explained how the photo was taken to capture his grandmother’s first time seeing her newborn grandson. That alone is a special moment! But sadly, a year after the photo was taken, his grandmother passed away, not getting to see her grandson grow up.
The Camera Wasn’t His
But that wasn’t where the tragedy ends. To make matters worse, the family lost Tristan in 2009, when he was only 30 years old. As you can understand, this photo was emotional for Melvin on so many levels. It brought back bittersweet memories for him, who also revealed that the camera wasn’t even his.
His grandmother, Faye Gardner, owned the Argus C2, a durable camera manufactured in Illinois between 1938 and 1942. Melvin explained that the rest of the incredible photos were taken by her; he couldn’t take credit for those. Melvin never knew what became of his grandmother’s belongings until now. When he got to see the rest of the prints, he was able to identify the region and confirm the event.
At first, the photos seemed modest. One showed a line-up of homes and buildings on a spring day, with a few clouds overhead. The film damage, however, made it difficult to see any details. The next photo showed the Lewis and Clark Bridge that connects Washington and Oregon. As Melvin scanned through the photos, he wondered why Faye was snapping away.
It was then that he saw the next photo and understood her intentions. Now, it was clear that the sky wasn’t filling with just ordinary clouds; it was smoke. On the morning of May 18th, 1980, Mount St. Helens was hit by a 4.0-magnitude earthquake. In fact, experts were expecting the hit, but they had a mere three days to prepare.
Capturing the Moment
Once the earthquake rippled out, it caused a mass of 4.0 tremors for days. Citizens were stuck on the mountain, which was beginning to expand. On the side of the mountain, a giant bulge pushed its way through. The boiling magma was looking for its own escape route. The land beneath the 450-foot swell was crushed as the side of the mountain erupted.
This sideways force pummeled everything in its path. The burning gases were flying through the air faster than the speed of sound. A shockwave, the size of 352 football fields, followed. As a result, Mount St. Helens burst upwards. Faye, as she witnessed the event, was frantically trying to capture this moment.
One Last Question
The explosion was like a nuclear blast, coating the skies of not one but eight surrounding states. The damages ended up costing over $1 billion. The US has yet to see an eruption as devastating as that one. The scary thing is that the volcano is still active, and there’s no telling what the future may bring.
As for Kati, she remained confused about one peculiar detail. In an email she sent to Fox News, she admitted her intrigue. “I was curious how it could be that anyone would shoot images of the eruption, which was such an iconic time here in the Pacific Northwest, and not run right out and get them developed.” She didn’t get an answer to such a natural question.
A Fascination with Volcanoes
But what Kati does know is that Mount St. Helens is her favorite place. “It feels sacred there. So, when I realized my film had images of the eruption, it felt like it was meant to be.” Another person with a particular fondness for volcanoes is a man named Kawika Singson. He’s a media personality and devoted adventurer. And, on one trip, he made an incredible discovery.
He hosts an online show called Everything Hawaii where he takes viewers to the most amazing areas of the archipelago. He also doesn’t shy away from the dangerous areas, such as volcanoes. A massive island, Hawaii has five volcanoes scattered throughout its land. Kawika decided to take a solo adventure around the volcanoes, heading to the Mauna Loa Forest Reserve.
Finding the Mauna Loa
Not before long, Kawika came upon a massive opening in the forest that just made him gasp. Before his eyes was a humungous crater pit caused by the Mauna Loa volcano – one of the three active volcanoes in Hawaii. Even though it was very risky to explore, Kawika powered through the formation. He really wanted to get footage for his show.
It was a dangerous mission, for sure, but he wasn’t too worried. Around each volcano is a lookout point where experts and researchers keep an eye on any activity. Kawika reminded himself that if a volcano was getting aggressive, they would give him enough warning.
Something Off in the Distance
As Kawika hiked up the volcano, he was very aware of the fact that there was a chance he would stumble upon batches of lava that had not completely hardened. One wrong step could cost him a foot. That said, he was super cautious and on high alert. He had a camera and tripod on him so he could capture some footage for the newest episode of Everything Hawaii.
As he peered through his lens, he spotted something odd far off in the distance. He packed up his equipment and made his way over until he reached a rusted metal object that was protruding out from a hardened mass of lava.
Unlikely Discovery on the Volcano
Curious, Kawika bent down to get a closer look. At first, he was confused as to what he was looking at. It looked like an old, rusty soup bowl. Who knows – maybe it was some lost cargo of an explorer from decades ago. But, as he looked closer, he realized just how dangerous the item was. At that moment, he understood that he was standing next to an undetonated bomb!
Kawika’s jaw hit the floor. What was this giant bomb doing wedged into lava? He then turned his head and gasped again. There was yet another bomb not too far away. That one was also stuck inside a mound of hard magma. What was going on here in Mauna Loa?
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
When he thought about it, Kawika had a pretty good idea. Back in 1930, there was a a volcanologist named Thomas A. Jaggar, who dedicated his life to learning everything about volcanoes. He ultimately founded an observatory in Hawaii called the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
The observatory served as the main hub for scientists and researchers to study the activity of all Hawaii’s volcanoes. Even though some weren’t active and hadn’t been for a long time, experts could never be sure that they would stay that way. Research on and observation of volcanoes is very important in order to prevent disasters. And Kawika, standing there, didn’t want to be a victim.
Twice in Two Years
Jagger and his team of volcano experts worked hard to ensure they could gather enough information to protect the residents of Hawaii from any volcanic activity. And, in 1933, the team was tested when Mauna Loa erupted. According to the United States Geological Survey, “Following a Mauna Loa summit eruption in 1933, Jaggar predicted that a flank eruption would occur on the volcano within two years and might threaten (the town of) Hilo.”
He only hoped his prediction wouldn’t come true. But, two years later, in 1935, Mauna Loa blew again. This time, the nearby town of Hilo was in real danger. Jagger and his team scrambled to come up with a safe solution. It relied on the Army Air Corps.
Decades-Old Piece of History
Their plan was to have the military drop 20 “pointer bombs” onto the land surrounding the volcano. They would drop them into the pools of lava that were collecting and thereby create new channels to divert the lava from Hilo’s path. The plan made sense and the military agreed. Smithsonian Magazine wrote, “Through complicated and sustained efforts, like cooling lava with water or building barriers to stop the flow, a volcano’s eruption can sometimes be redirected.”
The plan worked, and the town was saved. But, all these years later, Kawika saw that two of the bombs had never exploded. At that moment, he realized that he had stumbled upon a decades-old piece of history and had a much deeper understanding of the volcano-bombing process.
Speaking of people in the wild, one of the biggest names in Adventure TV is Bear Grylls. The man is simply “out there.” Here’s a look into his life…
Bear Grylls is a name that has become synonymous with adventure, and the host of “Man vs. Wild” has achieved countless incredible feats in his life. Trained in martial arts from a young age, Grylls was a soldier in the British Special Forces, survived a free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, and recovered to become one of the youngest climbers to conquer Mount Everest. More recently, Grylls has become the host of several extreme adventure TV shows across several networks in multiple countries.
His Emmy Award-nominated “Man vs. Wild TV” series reached an estimated 1.2 billion viewers, being one of the most-watched TV shows in the history of television. Even though some of the show is staged, as it has transpired after the producers were caught faking survival situations, it is still one of the most-watched shows about survivalists in the world.
Who Is Bear Grylls?
Born Edward Michael Grylls in London, England, in 1974, Bear Grylls is often referred to as “the most intense man in the universe.” Synonymous with adventure, his image has become the subject of numerous memes on the internet, and there are few places in the world where he isn’t instantly recognized. However, there’s much more to the man than just being the host of the hit television show “Man vs. Wild.”
If you have ever wondered how the most famous survivalist in the world came to be known as “Bear,” you won’t be surprised to find out that that is not, in fact, his real name. While it would have certainly had been very cool for Grylls’ parents to give him a rugged name like “Bear,” that is not the case. “Bear” is actually a nickname his sister, Lara, gave to him when he was just a baby.
The Birth of a Legend
Grylls was born in 1974 to Sir Michael Grylls, a Conservative politician, and MP, and his wife, Lady Sarah Grylls. He has an elder sister, Lara, whom he has to thank for his very suitable nickname. The adventure was present in the life of little Bear Grylls from the very beginning, as his father taught him to climb and sail. Later he learned to skydive as a teenager and earned a black belt in karate.
Bear Grylls speaks several languages, including French and German, and is a devout Anglican, having mentioned more than once that his faith is a very important part of his life. In 2000, Grylls married Shara Cannings Knight, and they split their time between their houseboat on River Thames and a private island in Wales. They have three sons.
A Former Army Man
Grylls’ passion for adventure and exotic climates was going strong in his formative years, and it was the reason he actually considered signing up for the Indian Army. He let go of that idea, though, settling on a trek around West Bengal and the Himalayan Mountains instead. But once he was back in the UK, he decided not to go to university at once and signed up for the Territorial Army.
While being in the Territorial Army is not exactly the same thing as being in the Army, the duties you’re expected to perform are identical to those of full-time soldiers. Grylls was a 21 SAS Regiment (Artists Reserve) member, and his service was typically limited to approximately 27 days a year.
Building Character with Karate
Grylls was fascinated with karate as a kid and teenager, and as such, he earned his black belt in Shotokan karate even before he went on to get military training. He holds a 2nd Dan Black Belt in Shotokan Karate. This is a style of karate that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Shotokan training is often regarded as a dynamic style of martial arts, and its purpose is to develop speed together with powerful techniques. Progressing to the black belt that Grylls has develops a much more fluid martial arts style, which includes standing joint locking techniques, throwing, and grappling. Grylls is proud of his black belt, as he once claimed on his Twitter account.
Going Strong Despite Accidents
Bear Grylls survived so many accidents that Men’s Health Magazine had a feature piece in 2018 titled “A Brief History of Bear Grylls’ Most Memorable Injuries.” Nevertheless, injuries never stopped Grylls from his life of adventure. A parasailing accident when he was 21 left him with a broken back, but that didn’t stop Grylls from becoming the youngest Briton to stand on top of Mount Everest when he was just 23 years old.
He would go on to recover from multiple types of injuries during his adventurous life, including a scorpion bite in Sahara when he was doing a sting with the French Foreign Legion in 2004, and getting his leg smashed by a camera and its metal rig that went free-falling from a mountain when filming “Man vs. Wild” in the Canadian Rockies.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Mt. Ama Dablam, located in the Nepalese Himalayans, is a mountain that Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the top in 1953 together with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, once described as “unclimbable.” That didn’t stop Bear Grylls from pushing himself to the limits to climb the mountain himself, at the tender age of 23.
According to his own words, Grylls “should have died several times on Mount Everest,” as the expedition was a harrowing one. He had dreamt of climbing on the top of the world since he was eight years old when he was looking at the poster of Mountain Everest his father put up in his room. He made it to the top without injuring himself, though.
Mount Everest Calls Again
It looks that conquering the peak at just 23 years old wasn’t the end of Grylls’ attraction for the highest mountain in the world. In 2007, he decided to return to Mount Everest, but not on foot. Instead, he decided to fly a powered paraglider higher than the peak itself.
Together with a partner, he flew 460 feet higher than the peak of Mt. Everest, which stands at an impressive 29,035 feet. Because Chinese airspace regulations don’t allow flying directly over the peak, he didn’t go that route. However, he still reached an insane height circumventing the summit, in a legendary adventure that won’t be matched by any other human anytime soon.
Passing the Torch
If you look at Bear Grylls’ life, a wife and kids is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind. And you would be right — just imagine the hard times someone with this lifestyle would have to convince a woman to marry him. But Grylls can really do it all, and he eventually found the right girl to settle down.
In 2000, Grylls married Shara Cannings Knight, and together they have three boys. Needless to say, the children are already skilled in the outdoors and adept at survival, which means that their father does a great job when it comes to passing the torch to the next generation.
The Birth of the Number One Survivalist Show in the World
In 2006, Bear Grylls began to host a survival television series that would go on to become one of the most-watched programs in the world. The show is called “Man vs. Wild,” but it is also known across the world under different titles, including “Born Survivor: Bear Grylls,” “Ultimate Survival” or simply “Bear Grylls” in the United Kingdom.
The series is produced by a British company called Diverse Productions, and the original network that was listed was Discovery Channel. The show lasted until 2012 when Discovery Channel canceled the series due to contract disputes with Bear Grylls. A total of 73 episodes and ten specials aired between 2006 and 2012.
A Show Like No Other
Most of the episodes of “Man vs. Wild” start with Grylls being left stranded in a region together with his film crew, so the viewers can watch their efforts to survive and their struggle to find a way back to civilization. In most of the episodes, Grylls and the crew need to find some sort of overnight shelter, and most of the action takes place in wild areas such as forests or jungles.
However, some of the episodes and specials take place in industrial areas in the city. For most of the episode, the camera focuses on Grylls, who tells viewers about the particular area he’s in and gives an account of successful and fails survivals that happened in that particular place before him.
“Man vs. Wild” Hits the Consoles
A video game called “Man vs. Wild” hit the stores in 2011, being inspired by the television series. In the game, which is available for PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii, the player takes the role of Bear Grylls himself, going on an adventure to survive the hardships of various environments across the world, including dangerous jungles and escaping quicksand in the desert.
The game was developed by Floor 84 Studio in collaboration with Scientifically Proven and was published by Crave Entertainment. At the time of its release, the game received positive reviews, and it is still played by “Man vs. Wild” aficionados from all around the world today.
A Close-Knit Filming Crew
Filming for “Man vs. Wild” is not your usual television series setting, which means that the entire crew needs to be close-knit and supportive. According to crew members, filming the show meant dealing with going in and out of helicopters, swinging on ropes on various mountains, and driving cool cars.
That’s all hard work, but also very fun, in the words of Paul “Mungo” Mungeam, the adventure cameraman who worked with Bear Grylls for ten years. The main crew used for “Man vs. Wild” usually comprised of two cameramen, a director, two sound engineers, and a safety team with the sole purpose of looking after everyone.
Is Bear Grylls Afraid of Anything?
The same cameraman disclosed that Bear Grylls is not particularly afraid of anything, maybe except for cocktail parties. You read that right. He is not afraid of wild animals, heights, or getting lost in the jungle, but he isn’t necessarily fond of making small talk. That’s understandable, but it’s still funny, nonetheless.
Paul “Mungo” Mungeam also disclosed in an interview that Grylls whistles to distract himself when he’s afraid of something. He is human, after all, and that means he needs to handle coping mechanisms to overcome his fear in the most extreme of the situations. And when it comes to food, there are a few things that Grylls won’t try, including mouse soup. Yikes.
No Escape from the Critics
A show as successful as “Man vs. Wild” was bound to attract criticism from viewers and other people in the industry. A crew member admitted in 2006 that some scenes were staged, suggesting that Grylls wasn’t actually stranded in the wild alone, as the episode suggested. One of the experts who raised concerns about the scenes being manipulated was Mark Weinert, a survivalist consultant.
Some of the scenes that attracted criticism throughout the life of the show included the one in which Grylls tried to tame a wild mustang in the Sierra Nevada, which was in fact hired from a tracking station and was already tame, and the scene in which a crew member wore a bear suit to make up for the fact that they couldn’t find a real bear for the filming.
Other Episodes That Were Heavily Criticised
The above were not the only scenes in “Man vs. Wild” that attracted criticism. A famous episode showed Grylls stuck on a desert island like a real-life Robinson Crusoe, but it transpired that he wasn’t actually stuck. The desert island was a part of the Hawaiian Archipelago. According to critics, Grylls didn’t even spend the night in the outdoors but retired to a motel instead.
In another episode, Grylls escapes from an active volcano by leaping across the lava, in a scene that is incredibly powerful and entertaining. However, it was then revealed that the entire scene was enhanced with the help of special effects, using smoke machines and hot coal.
Response to Criticism
The producers of the show didn’t deny the criticism brought upon “Man vs. Wild,” and they actually changed some of the episodes and aired re-edited versions. In these new episodes, some of the elements that work to plan were removed, and the voice-over was also changed to reveal Grylls is sometimes intentionally put in some of the situations to show viewers how to survive.
Nevertheless, some of the most controversial episodes from the first season were never re-edited or released again by Discovery Channel, and they are no longer available for purchase on DVD. In the UK, British Channel 4 suspended the show’s second season while promising clarification about the editing of the episodes.
What Did Grylls Have to Say About the Accusations?
Grylls himself posted a response to the critics on his blog in 2007. He addressed allegations of spending nights in local hotels instead of the shelters that were built on the episodes, and never quite admitted that he never spent any nights in the shelters. However, he did admit that he receives help from the crew on occasion.
In an interview for People magazine, he mentioned that because each episode takes up to 10 days the film, the crew sometimes spends the night in hotels, but all the night staff that is shown on camera was real. All-new episodes and DVDs after 2007 contain a notice that states that the crew provides safety equipment to Grylls to minimize risks and that he sometimes puts himself deliberately in dangerous situations to be able to demonstrate survival techniques.
Emmy Awards Nomination
Despite the controversy surrounding the methods used for filming the episodes for “Man vs. Wild,” the show went on to be regularly viewed by more than 1.2 billion people from all corners of the world. It received a nomination for an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming” in 2010. The nominee was director of photography Simon Reay for the episode “Big Sky Country.”
Simon Reay did not win the award though, as that year’s Emmy Award for “Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming” went to CBS’ “Survivor” for the episode “Slay Everyone, Trust No One.” “Man vs. Wild” was also nominated for two Astra Awards in 2011 and 2012.
Every Episode Is Carefully Researched and Prepared
Despite the controversy surrounding the way “Man vs. Wild” is filmed, there is a lot of work going in each of the episodes, with each of them taking between seven and ten days to shoot. This is preceded by about a week of scouting the area and going a very extensive list of equipment and dozens of safety checks.
Grylls himself does a lot of the work that goes in the preparation of the episodes, which includes training and survival briefings with outside experts, who are generally locals with extensive knowledge of the terrain where the filming is going to take place.
How Does That Taste, Bear?
Bear Grylls has eaten some very strange things on camera over the years, with bear feces, camel intestinal fluid, yak eyeballs, and snakes being just some of them. In one famous episode, Grylls made a bowl of soup from a mouse and his own urine. In an interview with The Mirror in 2015, he admitted that the worst thing that he has Ethan ever was a raw goat’s member.
Grylls reminisced about the experience of eating that particular part of a goat on an interview with HuffPost Live. It just melted into my mouth, full of cold goat sperm. Then the worst bit, it wasn’t the sperm, it was that I then vomited and then had to swallow the vomit and the testicle together. It was a vomit-testicle cocktail. It killed me.”
Surviving on a Deserted Island
In Season 4, Episode 8 that aired on January 6, 2010, Grylls is deserted on an island in Panama, where here needs not only to survive but also to find a way to escape the island and get back to civilization. The episode was directed by Stephen Shearman and is one of the best rated in the history of the show.
It showed Grylls using tribal fishing techniques and building himself a raft to escape from the island. The highlight of the episode, if you can call it that, is when Grylls gives himself an enema to stay hydrated at sea. Talk about doing anything to be the number one survivalist show in the world!
Not the Florida You Know and Love
In another very popular episode from Season 1, Grylls finds himself in the Florida Everglades, where he has to battle the swamps and escapes the alligators that would want nothing more than a piece of the world’s most famous survivalist. The waterlogged lands of Everglades are also chock full of alligators and even black bears.
The Florida Everglades is a place where more than 1 million alligators live, and no less than 60 tourists need to be rescued from every year. Grylls conquers this perilous destination by demonstrating how to keep alligators at bay while finding his way through some razor-sharp grass and surviving by eating some pretty gross stuff.
The Camel No One Will Forget
You never know when you’re going to be faced with the carcass of a camel, so Bear Grylls took care of the viewers’ education regarding what to do in that situation. Stumbling upon a dead camel in the Sahara desert, Grylls didn’t waste time and proceeded to skin it, evacuate the organs and feeding himself with the meat.
But that was not all. After feasting on dead camel meat, Grylls made a blanket out of the skin and then crawled inside, said camel for shelter. He did all this while holding his breath because of the stench. A disgusting episode that simply proved that Grylls is not afraid to try anything once.
How’s the Water?
Swimming naked on a balmy -90 degrees Fahrenheit day? Not a problem for Bear Grylls, it’s just another day at work for him. Grylls crossed a Siberian river swimming naked, because, in his words, it’s very important to keep your clothes dry. If you don’t, they will freeze instantly when you get out of the water.
So swimming naked it was. It’s a pity Grylls’ new contracts say that he can’t get naked on the TV screen anymore. That was his decision, as he doesn’t feel comfortable getting stark naked in front of an audience of billions. We guess that aging does make you more modest.
Life After “Man vs. Wild”
The adventure was surely not over for Bear Grylls after Discover Channel decided not to renew his show. In 2012, he launched the Bear Grylls Survival Academy in the UK. This is essentially a course that consists of a 24-hour full-immersion event to teach you surviving skills.
The course was also made available for the American market in 2014 and offered variations such as 5-day courses located in various locations of the country, including the Yosemite National Park. Enrolling in the Bear Grylls Survival Academy is certainly not cheap, with the 24-hour course starting from $579, but it’s sure worth it to learn skills from the best.
Still Getting TV Gigs
Bear’s television career did not end with “Man vs. Wild.” In 2013, he hosted “Bear Grylls: Escape from Hell,” a six-part miniseries featuring ordinary people who become trapped in extraordinal situations where they are forced to use their survival skills. The show premiered on the Discovery Channel in October 2013 in the UK and a month later in the US.
In 2014, Grylls had a new show on NBC called “The Island With Bear Grylls,” a reality TV show that has since aired six seasons. Grylls narrates the program that focuses on participants who test their survival skills on a remote uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean. The series will return for the seventh season in 2020.
Chief Scout Nomination
The Scouts Association appointed Grylls as Chief Scout in 2009. He was the youngest person to be appointed Chief Scout. He was selected because of this lifelong passion for the outdoors and his commitment to sharing his skills with the young generation. The Scouts Association mentioned that Grylls was an outstanding figure for scouting.
Grylls is due to pass the torch to another Chief Scout in 2020. In the words of Tim Kidd, UK Chief Commissioner, “By championing our values, improving public perception and inspiring our members, Bear has helped Scouting go from strength to strength, valued by parents and respected by the public at large, attracting more young people and adult volunteers.
Get Out Alive
In 2013, Bear Grylls hosted the show “Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls,” which was an eight-episode series on NBC. Filmed in New Zealand, the show pitched ten teams of two contestants against each other to survive in the wilderness. Grylls was the guide of the ten teams, and each week he would eliminate one of them.
The last remaining team was set to win $500,000. The participants in the contest were either couples, friends, or mother/daughter or father/son teams. Tasks varied from making fire for the whole group to providing shelter and making sure the entire group was fed. The show only lasted for one season, but it went on to be broadcast in 218 countries.
Surviving With Celebrities
In 2014, Grylls started to host “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” a TV show on NBC and later National Geographic. Unlike his past shows that were mostly reality television featuring either Grylls himself or regular people as contestants, this is a show where Grylls brings along a different celebrity on each episode.
And we’re not talking about B-class stars, either. Grylls has managed to lure the likes of Kate Winslet, Kate Hudson, Michael Jordan, and then sitting President Barack Obama into the wild. The show started on NBC, but in 2019 it was announced it would move on National Geographic.
Cooking Worms and Eggs with Zac Efron
In the pilot episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” the host takes Zach Efron along on a journey in the Northeast Appalachian Mountains. The two parachutes themselves into the woods, discover and smell a rabbit carcass, and then prepare a meal consisting of eggs and worms, all while getting to know each other better.
After spending the night in the woods, Grylls and Efron ventured into a canyon with the help of a rope. After managing to dive into a river, they swam to shore and made it back to safety. The episode was filmed in the Catskill Mountains and amassed 4.43 million viewers the night it aired.
Taming Scotland with Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller may be Hollywood’s funny guy, but he also demonstrated he got what it takes to survive in the woods with Bear Grylls. The two traveled to the Isle of Skye in Scotland and dived into the wilderness. Surrounded by rocks and slippery terrain, they talked about their backgrounds and even managed to gather some food on the shore.
Stiller and Grylls spent the night in a cave, and while Stiller looked to beat the next morning, the two still got to swim into a river to get back to the plane that was waiting to take them back to safety. Not quite a “Night at the Museum,” but still very entertaining.
Not Just a Guys’ Game
In season 2 of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” Kate Winslet showed everyone that being a survivalist is not only for boys. She trekked with Grylls through Snowdonia, keeping his pace and impressing him with her stamina. Grylls said at one point that Winslet was just like “Mary Poppins on steroids.”
As in many other Bear Grylls adventures, there was scary food involved in the Kate Winslet episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” specifically fried earthworms. Winslet talked about her career and set up camp with Grylls in some very windy conditions, before getting to swim in the icy ocean.
A Man of Charity as Well
Besides being a celebrity and survivalist, Bear Grylls is also very involved in charitable activities. He is an ambassador for Prince’s Trust, a well-known organization that provides financial, training, and practical support to British young people. He’s also involved with Global Angels, another British charity that helps children around the world.
Care for Children is another charity he supports, and his attempt to para-motor over the South American Angel Falls was a fundraiser for the Hope and Homes for Children charity. Grylls was given an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to the media, young people, and charity.
Dinner with a View
In 2005, Grylls accompanied Lieutenant Commander Alan Veal, leader of the Royal Navy Freefall Parachute Display Team and balloonist and mountaineer David Hempleman-Adams, as they beat the world record for a formal dinner party at high altitude. They dined with oxygen masks on under a hot air balloon, and they were dressed in full mess dress.
The altitude was 7,600 meters, and Bear Grylls took more than 200 parachute jumps to train for the event. The entire dinner party adventure was also in aid of charity, with the proceedings going to The Prince’s Trust and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Antarctica Is Calling
In 2008, Bear Grylls decided to raise funds for the Global Angels charity by climbing one of the most remote peaks in Antarctica that was not actually climbed before. The team started by exploring the coast of Antarctica by jet skis and an inflatable boat and then traveled across the ice with an electric-powered paramotor.
Grylls broke his shoulder during the expedition and had to be medically evacuated, which brought the expedition to an end. The accident happened when he was kite skiing across a stretch of ice, and he was launched in the air. He landed on his shoulder and required immediate medical assistance.
The Internet Loves Bear Grylls
It’s absolutely impossible to be on the Internet and not see a Bear Grylls meme at one point or another. The good thing is that Grylls loves to have a laugh, which means that he always funnily responds to memes. For example, he laughed on Twitter at the meme showing him drinking from a cup with a disgusted expression on his face.
Other memes featuring Bear Grylls show him full of blood on his face or pointing at the camera with the text “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” below the image. In another meme, he says, “Oh, you went camping for the weekend? That’s cute.” However, many of the memes featuring Grylls are about him drinking his own urine.
Grylls Likes to Rough It Privately, Too
If you thought that living in rough conditions was just an act for Grylls, think again. The survivalist and his wife actually own a private island, which they use as a vacation home. Grylls often refers to his little corner of paradise off the coast of Wales as his favorite place on the planet.
In an interview for Vanity Fair in 2012, Grylls mentioned that the island is 5 miles offshore and has no electricity or running water. The couple spends weekends and vacations on the island, where they have a rigid inflatable boat on which they tackle the sea together with their children and dogs.
Where Does He Get the Time?
As if life as a full-time survivalist and adventurer was not enough, Bear Grylls also found the time to write no less than 11 books, including four teenage fiction books. One of the most popular of his titles is “How to Stay Alive: The Ultimate Survival Guide for Any Situation,” published in 2019. In the book, Grylls teaches his readers to survive a bear attack, fly a plane in an emergency, and generally survive in the most extreme conditions.
“The Bear Grylls Adventure” series is a popular collectible series for young readers who can learn how to build a shelter, use a compass, and read about many other skills that come in handy in the outdoors.
Walking In His Father’s Shoes
As we have already mentioned, Grylls has three sons, and all of them are already skilled in the art of surviving. They have been training for a life of adventure since they were tots, so it’s no wonder that Jesse, Bear’s eldest son, has already saved a life.
While playing with some friends by a creek when he was seven years old, little Jesse kept his cool when one of the girls fell in. Putting his skills to good use, he dragged his friend out of the water and saved the day. Now we bet that his dad was pretty proud of how his boy used the skills he had instilled in him since he came out of the womb.