Last week, ExWeb ran the story "Pilots say prove"; written by British journalist Tarquin Cooper about Bear Grylls' alleged flight over the summit of Mt Everest. Turned out, it wasnât a flight over Everest after all.
Changed plan, same story
Grylls had announced a change of flight plan before departure, claiming fear of the Chinese airspace, for which he did not have permission. "Flying over the summit was the original plan but I changed the plan and Iâve always written very honestly about that," Grylls said in the article.
That doesn't correspondent with his expedition website report though, which says: "(15/5/2007) Mission Everest success; Bear Grylls, supported by the GKN Mission Everest team, has become the first man to fly over Mount Everest by powered paraglider."
Proof in the pudding?
With the help of Discovery's media apparatus, the news quickly spread around the world - with no fact checks done. Only pictures of clouds were presented and no technical specs were made available. When ExWeb approached Grylls' for proof; he replied they would be shown on TV. Later, he told Cooper that his instruments froze. And finally that he only did it for charity anyway.
Mountain guide Dan Mazur said Grylls literally landed on top of him. It turned out that may have been Gilo Cardozo. "A fault in Giloâs machine forced him to abort only 1,000 feet below the summit and he had to glide back to safety," their home team reported.
Parajet.com however wrote: "They have done it!! - yesterday morning Bear Grylls and Gilo succeeded in their mission to fly over Mount Everest. Bear Grylls flew to 30,000 feet and looked down on the summit. The Science Museum in London will exhibit all the Mission Everest equipment in October 2007, this was truly a historic flight."
"As soon as he did (land), he shouted in English, âI did it, I did it!â," Mazur recalls. " I replied to him, âwhat did you do?â He said, âI flew as high as Everest.â I thought to myself at the time, I am not sure how high you flew, but, you didnât fly over Everest, because you never left the area above the Pheriche plateau, as far as I could tell."
Superman - and Hawkeye?
Bear's expedition report said that "Bear continued to ascend until, at 9:33 a.m. local time, he reached 29,500ft and was able to look down on Everest as he circled above some of the most famous peaks in the Himalayas."
Grylls himself reported, "My para-jet never missed a beat, feeling so smooth as it powered me higher and higher. Finally at 9:33 am I could see that no other mountain in the world was above me. I was at 29,500 feet."
This math doesn't add up though. Bear and Gilo apparently started out 20 miles from Everest. The Pheriche plateau is some 15 km away from the peak. Thus Bear must have viewed the small difference of 140 meter (460 ft) in altitude between the summit and himself from a distance of 9 miles! This ratio of 1 in 107, or less than half a degree, makes it physically impossible for a human to even remotely feel whether or not the distant object is "below" him.
This would explain why Everest climbers didn't see Bear - he was simply not even close to the peak. Yet Bear claims he got within 2 miles of Everest. Even with that the difference would still amount to only 2 degrees. "I was looking over the summit of Mt Everest down into Tibet," Bear said. That would only have been possible if the world was flat.
Logistics outfitter: "Vital for the future goodwill that claims are accurate"
Yesterday another email arrived, this time from Nigel Gifford at the UK High & Wild Group. It read:
"While I do not know what Bear Grylls has said in answer to your questions about his parajet flight in Solu Khumbu, I can confirm that it was me who was issued (and was responsible for) the permit for this flight from the Nepalese authorities and it was my company along with Explore Himalaya that positioned all the logistics."
"The permit was NOT to fly over Everest and this did not happen. The approved flight plan, which was adhered to by both pilots was to take off from the area of Pheriche, and to stay south of the Nuptse/Lhotse wall. Hope that this helps clear the matter up."
"I am sure that Mr Grylls and you would agree that it is vital for the future goodwill and sound relationship of those seeking adventurous and expedition permits from the Nepalese (or any other) Government that post expedition claims are put into the public domain accurately. In fact, we have a duty to our community to do so."
A man's word telling about his character?
Judging from ExWeb's mailbox an increasing number of explorers agree. False claims are too common these days and explorers even 'steal' accomplishments from other explorers, relying on powerful PR setups and language barriers. Gone are the days when a man's word was important and telling about his character. Or are they?
Compare Grylls with the 2004 spectacular over Everest flight of British Microlight pilot Richard Meredith-Hardy and Italian hang-glider pilot Angelo DâArrigo. No iffy statements; no cat and mouse games - only a great accomplishment done in complete transparency. That's an important part of the Spirit of Adventure.
Back to Bear; as he claims that his altimeter froze mid-flight we might never know where or how high he flew. And we might not even care.
Find earlier Grylls stories in the links section (below images) and later stories here:
Oh Bear! Survival of the fittest - in Bass lake Chalets?
ExWeb interview with polar skier on Bear Grylls' cold water survival episode
The 2004 spectacular over Everest flight of British Microlight pilot Richard Meredith-Hardy and Italian hang-glider pilot Angelo DâArrigo stunned the entire mountain as they came soaring toward the summit. Angelo fulfilled a dream that was four years in the making. He prepared extensively for the project by working in hypobaric chambers and testing gear in a wind tunnel. The attempt was very bold. Skeptics believed that the air would be too thin and too cold - an Antarctic helicopter pilot veteran called the attempt flat out "impossible". The feat gained both pioneers international recognition and their expedition was awarded among the Best of 2004 by ExplorersWeb. Angelo dâArrigo died on March 26, 2006 when a small Sky Arrow plane piloted by a retired military general fell 200 meters to the ground. He left behind the wild birds he'd taught to fly, and a world of mourning fellow explorers whose respect he had earned for his great spirit of adventure.
American Everest and K2 summiteer Dan Mazur rescued Lincoln Hall on Everest last year and was leading a team on Lhotse and Everest this spring.
Discovery Channel's TV host British Bear Grylls climbed Everest in 1998 as a member of a commercial expedition.
According to Tarquin Cooper, this isnât the first time Grylls has sailed close to the wind with his claims. In 2003 he was challenged by a team of power boaters after claiming the first crossing of the North Atlantic in a RIB [rigid inflatable boat]". The team claimed theyâd done it before him and Grylls changed the wording to the first "unassisted" crossing. Grylls also claims that he was the youngest Briton, at 23, to summit Mount Everest in 1998, despite being informed that James Allen, who summited at age 22 in 1995 and originally reported as Australian, is British.
#Mountaineering #Air #Opinion #feature #interview
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