Authors: Bear Grylls
A REMARKABLE JOURNEY TO THE
SUMMIT OF MOUNT EVEREST
To Pasang and Nima
for saving my life that day in the Icefall.
I’ll always be indebted to you.
To Shara, now my wife,
you were the reason for
Illustration of climbers (
All photographs by the author unless otherwise indicated
Bear and Mick at Base Camp (
Geoffrey at Camp 4 before the second summit attempt (
The complete team at Base Camp
Yaks ferrying equipment to Base Camp (
The imposing Lhotse Face Icewall (
Crevasse-crossing in the Icefall (
Slowly working our way through the Icefall (
The Western Cwm at dusk (
One of the corpses on the mountain (
Dusk at Camp 4 (
Bear on top of the world, 7:22 a.m., 26 May 1998
Bear back at Base Camp for the last time (
Foothills leading up to the Upper Himalaya
Summit 29,035 ft
Camp 4 26,000 ft
Camp 3 24,500 ft
Camp 2 21,200 ft
Camp 1 19,750 ft
Base Camp 17,450 ft
Rev. Colonel David Cooper
‘How does it feel to have conquered Everest?’
I was at a lecture that Bear was giving to Eton College not very long after his return to the UK, after his ascent of Everest. He was with Mick Crosthwaite, who accompanied him on the
expedition, and at the end of what was without doubt the best lecture on any subject that I had heard in my time at the school, he was asked this question by a member of the audience.
His answer was illuminating in more ways than one.
‘I didn’t conquer Everest – Everest allowed me to crawl up one side and stay on the peak for a few minutes.’
In that one sentence Bear showed an insight that he had gained on the mountain that all his years of schooling and time in the Army had not given him, though they may have prepared him for
In his book
Captain Smith and Company
, Robert Henriques uses climbing a mountain as a simile for the war he had recently fought. He was a member of a special unit during the Second World
War and his simile has more truth to it than might be recognized by the casual reader who has no experience of war or mountains. It is no coincidence that so many soldiers have also spent a great
deal of their time on mountains, and it is too facile to suggest that it is just for the training value.
Both war and mountains have the capacity to radically change one’s perspective on the world and on one’s place in it.
Without doubt it is the intimate involvement of life or death as an inevitable outcome that invests an event with such great value. When the chances are about even for each of these, it also
invests it with a great capacity to change a person. Such an event is mountaineering.
For most of us our everyday life never presents us with this situation, and for those who it does, it is usually not sought for, but comes as a result of some disaster, man-made or natural.
This book is concerned with a person who has undergone a profound experience, at his own seeking, and we are privileged to be allowed an insight into the mind of the person who sought it. As a
book it is difficult to parallel. Albeit the youngest Briton to ever climb Everest, his understanding and honesty, together with his self-awareness, is of a level that many never reach in a long
life. What we his readers are privileged to share is a very personal account of his ascent, not just of the mountain, but of his humanity.