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Bear Grylls Climbing Video: Not a "Master of Movement"

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Bear Grylls Climbing Video: Not a

Bear Grylls chalks up at the cliff base. Note that he's tied into the black static rope for top-roping while his yellow "climbing" rope is clipped to his harness with a carabiner. Also note his small rack of cams.

Photograph courtesy Bear Grylls

The Bottom Line

Half a Star!

I give this video/commercial a half-a-star but only for the cinematography. The cameraman sure makes it look nice around Tombstone Butte--one of my favorite desert places. The story and the acting is, however, relegated to the rubbish bin. Be glad that it's a freebie!

Pros

  • Good cinematography!
  • No other redeeming qualities.

Cons

  • Many climbing inaccuracies and inconsistencies.
  • Hidden top-rope.
  • His rack of cams is too small.
  • Wrongly portrays climbing, free climbing, and aid climbing.
  • Video is a commercial for deodorant masquerading as reality and real climbing...NOT!

Description

  • A 2:08 video of rock climbing on Tombstone Butte near Moab, Utah.
  • Video stars Bear Grylls, a controversial British television adventurer.
  • Video is a commercial for an underarm deodorant.

Guide Review - Bear Grylls Climbing Video: Not a "Master of Movement"

Bear Grylls, the, ahem, “Master of Movement,” is starring in a climbing video for Degree for Men deodorant that was filmed in the desert northwest of Moab, Utah and ostensibly promotes his approach to extreme rock climbing and the underarm deodorant that he uses before and after those climbs.

Video Press Release

The press release for the video says: “Exclusive: New extreme footage of Bear Grylls Extreme mountain climbing icon Bear Grylls chose to summit the iconic Tombstone Rock in Canyonlands National Park near Moab, UT. The 350-ft sheer cliff face offered a chance for the adventurer to practice his climbing skills which he learned from his father as a boy and to reconnect with his roots.”

Rock Climbing Fictions

Watch the video and you’ll agree with me—What a lot of hooey!! This new Bear Grylls video puts Vertical Limit to shame for shamelessly promoting urban myths and fictions about rock climbing. This video isn’t at all believable!

Press Release Inaccurate

Without even watching the video, you can begin to debunk it by simply reading the press release, which is inaccurate and is simply about promotion to folks who know absolutely nothing about climbing.

Actually Called Tombstone Butte

First, Tombstone Butte (no, it is not called Tombstone Rock) is not in Canyonlands National Park, but instead rises northwest of the park on BLM land on the northern edge of the Island in the Sky.

Bear Grylls: Climbing Icon??

Second, when did Bear Grylls become an “extreme mountain climbing icon?” Is there something I’ve missed in Climbing Magazine and Rock & Ice about his extreme exploits?

Route is Rigor Mortis

The route Grylls climbs, although he certainly is not climbing it in the video but instead is simply acting as a climber, is called Rigor Mortis and weighs in at 5.9 C2. Paul Ross, a British expatriate climber living in Palisade, Colorado, did its first ascent in 2003.

Route Never Free-Climbed

Rigor Mortis has not been free-climbed. I repeat, not been free climbed…at least until Bear Grylls’ extreme free-solo ascent. Ha. Instead, this is an aid climb, and not just a route with occasional aid moves but lots of standing in aiders and placing gear. But, of course, an aid climb just wouldn’t fit Bear Grylls’ extreme climbing style.

Entrada Sandstone=Loose and Sandy

The Tombstone is composed of Entrada sandstone, the same stuff that composes all the formations at nearby Arches National Park. Entrada, as any desert climber will tell you, is not the greatest medium for rock climbing. It’s sandy and loose. The Tombstone fits both those criteria. The lower member of Entrada at the base of Tombstone Butte is what us climbers call “choss,” crap rock.

Bear Runs Across the Desert

The video starts with Bear Grylls running across the desert. He is actually approaching the tower from the northeast where the BLM has closed a bunch of social trails carved out by wayward ATVs. I would think he would chose to approach it the easy way by just driving to the base on a dirt road and parking below the talus slopes. Oh right, it makes for better film footage if he’s running through the desert, his feet breaking up the fragile crytobiotic crust that keeps the sandy soil from blowing away in the wind.

Bear Carries a Short Rope

Grylls is also wearing his harness with a few cams (more about them later) dangling from it and a short piece of rope, perhaps 40 feet, wrapped in a mountaineer’s coil and hanging jauntily over his shoulder. Uh right Bear, an actual climber would carry and use at least a 165-foot (50-meter) climbing rope.

Bear Knocks Off Lots of Rocks

Then Bear runs up the talus slopes below the tower, leaping off boulders onto other boulders, and knocking loose rocks down. It’s a good thing he doesn’t have a climbing partner. Bear would have killed the bloke with all the falling rock.

Where is Bear's Climbing Partner?

Which brings up another point? Where is Bear Grylls’ climbing partner? Oh right, he’s an extreme climber. Partners? They’re for sissies or those who don’t have the fortitude to go on their own. Rock climbing for the rest of us mere mortals, save Alex Honnold and Bear Grylls, includes having to tie into a rope with someone else and to belay each other while we climb.

Does He Climb or Doesn't He?

Now we get to the part where Bear Grylls actually climbs…or doesn’t climb. It appears that much of the time a stunt double, undoubtedly someone hired off Main Street in Moab, is the climber in the video. Bear is carrying a meager rack of cams, including Camalots, suspended from the gear loops of his harness. Certainly not the kind of rack anyone else attempting to climb Rigor Mortis would carry. I’ve been out to Tombstone Butte and seen the crack. If I was to climb it I would bring at least triple sets of cams, not a handful of assorted gear, along with a bunch of quickdraws and even more free carabiners.

Other inaccuracies in the climbing sequence:

Climbs in Funky Approach Shoes

Look at Bear's funky approach shoes. They’re falling apart. What climber would attempt a route like this in shoes like that? Right answer, someone who doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing. And a director who has no clue either. Why didn't the producer hire a real live climber to be their expert to make sure every climbing detail is accurate?

No Gear, No Belayer, No Problem

No gear is actually ever placed and the rope that is trailing below Bear is never clipped into anything. Of course he has no belayer and the rope is only 40 or so feet long so it’s really just a nice decorative prop.

Bear Climbs with a Hidden Top Rope!

The climber, both Bear and his stunt double, are never actually lead climbing but instead are top-roping and hanging on the face. They’re actually tied into a rope that is usually hidden instead the crack, which is why they probably picked this route. But at strategic times in the video (at 1:39 and 1:43the rope can be seen above the climber and at 1:16, 1:18, 1:25, and 1:31 an extra rope can be seen below the climber) you are able to see the hidden rope. At 1:03 you can see Bear tying into a black static rope, which was used for the top-rope, and at 1:08 you can see both the yellow and black ropes hanging down from his harness.

Bear Mantles onto the Summit

Then when Bear Grylls reaches the finishing moves or what the director wants you to think are the finishing moves and his freshly chalked hand slaps a sloping edge. Then it breaks to Bear running up the final slab to the summit, his yellow rope trailing behind him, and his voiceover saying, “On a face, every move really counts whether it’s a big move or a small one. It needs to be instinctive. You’ve also got to trust it so that when you move, it’s gonna work.”

Video is Pure Unadulterated BS

Bear Grylls: Master of Movement…this video is a move that just doesn’t work because we just don’t trust it. This guy has made a career out of putting himself in situations that are easily avoided by just using a bit of common sense and now he’s pretending to be a master climber and using all kinds of dangerous practices. I mean, come on Bear, this video is pure BS…that is, a steaming heap of pure unadulterated Bear hooey!

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