Let me start out this week's column by saying PHEW. You see, I usually tape Man vs. Wild on my buddy's DVR, and spend my Friday nights studying in the library like most college students. Unfortunately, sometime early Saturday morning, my buddy's housemate erased the hard drive of the DVR in a drunken stupor, because he's a douchebag. Needless to say I cried for several hours afterwards, because I felt like I let you guys down.
On to this week's episode! The show opens with a sweet parachute jump onto the Patagonian ice field. Supposedly it's the third largest area of continental ice in the world, behind only Antarctica and Greenland. (Speaking of which, Bear definitely needs to do an episode at the South Pole during the Winter Solstice. It's the last frontier.) The pilot of the chopper tells Bear that he's the first to ever parachute into the ice field, which delights Bear to no end. Although technically, the camera guy lands before him, so Bear is the second to ever parachute into the ice field. Whatever we'll just let Bear have his glory.
Bear describes the ice field as "Antarctica and the Himalayas rolled into one." So this place is about as unforgiving as my ex-girlfriend. Less than five minutes into the episode and we see an avalanche in the distance. This has the potential to be one of the coolest episodes in a while.
Bear tells us that after Everest, he vowed never to go into a crevasse again. I'm pretty sure he did while on the glacier in part one of the Patagonia episode, but whatever. He climbs down using his rope, proclaims himself "completely screwed," then climbs back up using some fancy rope trick. Done.
We find out that the Uruguayan rugby team plane crashed somewhere near where Bear is. For those of you that don't know, they had to eat each other to survive. Bear says "and in conditions like this, you can see that really, that was their only chance of staying alive." The camera crew backs the hell away from Bear after he says this, and the next shot is from like 100 feet away.
The snow den ends up about the size of a typical dorm room, complete with a slab of packed snow for Bear's bed. Pretty sweet. He wakes up in the middle of the night to pee, but naturally does it into his water bottle. Ewwww British people are gross.
The next day Bear goes trekking along a giant ridge of snow, and tells us that it's prime avalanche territory. So naturally, he climbs to the top of the ridge and tries to purposely set one off. He plants a miniature camera in the avalanche's path, and sets off a small one. He says that after being buried for half an hour, your chance of surviving the avalanche is just 30%. It takes him 45 minutes to find the camera. Then again, the camera wasn't calling for help, so I guess Bear gets a mulligan in the rescue department.
A blizzard picks up again, so Bear literally sprints down the mountain to get out of the winds. He's having a blast. Bear's still atop a small ridge and says he needs to get down to the alpine forest for his next mission. We find out that he's been carrying a freaking paraglider in his backpack this entire time. He literally takes a running start and flies himself to his next mission. DAMN that was awesome. Easily the coolest thing Bear's done since, I dunno, setting off an avalanche.
What will Bear have for dinner?
A) Beetle larvae
C) Weeds from a pond
D) All of the above
The answer, as you might expect, is D. Bear builds a fire using Old Man's Beard again. From what I heard, Bear referred to the beard as "barabarbababadario," which I guess is the indigenous name for it. Time for a commercial break.
The show returns and Bear found a stream! It was bound to happen at some point. He follows it for a bit, then the small brook takes a plunge over a 150 foot cliff. Bear decides to rappel down it, which takes him about 45 seconds. Nature really is Bear's playground.
After reaching safe ground, Bear sees a woodpecker's nest in a tree and climbs it in hope of eggs. Upon finding an empty nest, he resorts to eating some random fungus. Seems like a fair trade-off.
Unfortunately Bear doesn't do naked push-ups to warm back up, instead electing to lay fully-clothed next to the fire. Sorry ladies.
And that's the end of this week's episode.
Anyway, I've noticed that almost every week the comments section deteriorates into an argument over who is more of a badass: Bear Grylls or Les Stroud. I figure it's about time for me to weigh in, so here goes.
Bear is a bonafide badass. He eats live animals, rappels down waterfalls, and gives off an aura of immortality. Not to mention he's totally dreamy. Bear has a camera crew, and the absence of equipment weighing him down allows him to perform much more awesome feats of manliness.
Les Stroud is more practical and down-to-earth. He doesn't go over the top in his quest to get rescued, instead taking things one day at a time and playing his (gay) harmonica to keep his spirits high. He's a big-time naturalist, and tries to leave nature the way he found it, which means not grabbing a tree snake and biting it in half, or bludgeoning a trout to death with a piece of driftwood, or killing a rabbit by breaking its neck with his bare hands. This makes him decidedly less badass in the food department, in my opinion.
Bear receives help from his camera crew when they are afraid he might die, which is often. For example, they forced him to wear a lifejacket when floating down Amazonian rapids clutching a giant log, despite Bear's whining and pleading to do it without a vest.
Les never receives help from his camera crew, because he carries all of his equipment himself. However, he completely neutralizes this advantage over Bear by constantly whining about how heavy it is, and pitying himself. Bear never pities himself, he pities nature for being so inferior to him.
I'm slightly biased and admit to watching Man vs. Wild more often than Survivorman, but in terms of badassery, Bear wins hands-down. In terms of having a show that teaches the layperson how to survive in the middle of nowhere, Les wins, hands-down. But Man vs. Wild is a much more entertaining show, and Bear is a much more entertaining host. That's my two cents.
According to my sources, next week is a special entitled "Bear Eats." In that spirit, here's a picture of Bear biting through the spine of a live salmon, killing it instantly.
PS: Les Stroud is a pussy