Bear Grylls’ ‘Masters of Movement’ video draws ire of climbers

Sometimes a guy can’t catch a break.

Bear Grylls recently was the subject of a video sponsored by Degree antiperspirant and plugged by Outside magazine titled “Masters of Movement.”

You can see the video here:

As you can see, the video shows Grylls, star of Discovery’s “Man vs Wild” (now cancelled), dressed for the part with a climbing pack, some chalk, a rather short rope and a minimal trad rack. He runs and jumps athletically through the Utah desert before scaling a sheer stone tower in what looks to be a pretty challenging crack climb (and WAY above my pay grade).

It’s compelling filmmaking, but he’s getting ripped by an already skepitcal climbing community.

Grylls has long been criticized for  overdramatizing his outdoor exploits, even staging some scenes in what many viewers once assumed was real-life action, out in the wilderness. (After it was revealed that many scenes were staged and that Grylls and crew sometimes stayed in hotels during filming, disclaimers were shown before subsequent episodes.)

Now he’s getting ripped for his participation in this video.

You can see some of that in this thread from 14ers.com.

It seems to me that Grylls has enough of an outdoor resume as a mountaineer and skydiver that he could easily film something real and dramatic that is also within his skill set. So it’s easy to be puzzled at the concept of this video, which was obviously a work of cinema and not a filmed depiction of an actual climb.

They could have shown him doing a normal approach hike.

They could have shown him climbing in actual climbing shoes, with a trad rack and ropes that are up to the task, and doing so on a rock formation where he could actually solo the thing, set his own pro and not have the obvious top rope going on.

I’m not going to bust on Grylls for the same transgressions everyone else is harping on. I’ll leave that to the people whose climbing credentials exceed mine. I think the primary fault is with the filmmakers for the entire idea, a botched attempt to make an exciting outdoorsy video. As for Grylls, he probably should have seen through it and suggested some serious changes. The fact that he went along with it might be viewed as a case of bad judgment, something we’ve seen before on the program that gave him his fame.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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2 thoughts on “Bear Grylls’ ‘Masters of Movement’ video draws ire of climbers

  1. I’ve always felt that if I met Bear in person he would be a person easy to like. As for his shows I’ve never liked the over-the-top approach that either his producers or himself angled his shows. The guy is obviously knowledgeable in what he does and I never saw the reason for portraying himself as superhuman or appearing to do things way beyond his abilities. Personally I’ve always been more impressed with Lest Stroud dragging his tripods and cameras around with himself as he spent a week on his own. Perhaps less entertaining in thrills but a much more realistic portrayal of a survival situation. Thanks for the video. First time I’ve seen it. Looks like it’s be a good movie. 😀

    • I agree with all of that. Les Stroud does show a lot of authenticity in his programs. I think Bear Grylls could do that as well, but for whatever reason has chosen to take on more “entertaining” methods of filming. In the past, I’ve been critical not so much of the things he’s commonly criticized for (staged scenes and not really being stuck out in a wilderness), but some of the bad ideas I’ve seen.

      I can remember one “Man vs. Wild” episode where he chose to scramble up a steep, ice-covered slope. That’s fine, I suppose, but he did it without the benefit of any ice tools — no crampons, no ice axe, no nothing. He showed it could be done, but at the same time, it was a very inadvisable thing to do in a survival situation. One slip (really likely) and you’re busting bones on the ice. Imagine making that mistake while being in a wilderness self-rescue situation! Then imagine showing people “here’s what you can do on an icy slope in the wilderness in a self-rescue situation.” Just a bad, bad idea.

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