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SURVIVAL
Words:BarryRoberts&DrHarveyPynn-Photos:BarryRoberts&AlanLaverty
How to survive -
Barry Robers and friends celebrating the
first winter ascent of Gunnbjorns Fjeld (3,693m),
the highest mountain in the Arctic, before the
infamous encounter with the Polar bear.
WildernessW Medical Training’s Commercial Director Barry Roberts has been
on mmountainountain exexpeditionspeditions anandd hahadd tteammates on trips all over the world (Pakistan, Greenland, Kenya, Uganda,
Morocco, Nepal and Tibet). They have been troubled by bears, birds, hyrax, elephants, broken bones, blisters,
Maoist rebels, gun-toting tribesmen, landslides, rock fall, blizzards, washed out bridges, porter strikes, sickness
and diarrhoea, snow blindness, malaria, gonorrhoea, ticks, leeches, frostbite and tooth abscesses. You don’t wantn t
to go climbing with him! But you might want to listen to his advice, and that of WMT Senior Instructor Dr Harveyy
Pynn, on what to do in tricky situations and better still, how to avoid them.
the first winter ascent of the mountain heard the zipper. He cocked his headHow to survive…
in temperatures down to -35°C. And just and lumbered towards the tent.He
in case the ascent wasn’t a big enough looked more curious than menacing.a polar bear attack
challenge, I had brought a special light- More dirty yellowy than white. I reactedd
weight SKY paraglider which I unfurled spontaneously and started screaming
I thought we were out of danger. On just below the summit and made a abuse and waving my arms.When he ww ass
11 March 2006 we were at base camp historic flight, descending 1,100m and a metre away, I grabbed pots and pans
at 2000m and 60km from the sea, over 8km back to advanced base camp. and threw them in his face.He backed
celebrating our success on Gunnbjorns I was dozing off at 11.30pm when I off, then advanced.A large food jug was
Fjeld (3,693m), the highest mountain felt the tent shudder and cold ice crystals the last thing to hand and I heaved this
in the Arctic.The temperature was a from the ceiling dropped onto my face. into the bear’s face like a shot putter.
mild -25°C. It was snowing lightly and I assumed someone had tripped over He swiped, shredded the tent door and
in between the intermittent cloud and a guy wire.Then my teammate Paul turned and walked off.It all happened
fog, the camp was bathed in the light of shouted.The sincerity of his voice was so fast.
a full moon.This was to be our last night unmistakeable:“Guys, there’s a bear in Paul made a dash for the store tent
in Greenland.We expected a ski plane the camp. I’m serious!” for the signal flares.By the time I jumped
to land on the glacier the next day and I bolted upright and unzipped the into my one-piece Everest climbing suit
return us to Iceland.Job done. tent door to look out.A polar bear and out of the tent, Paul had a flaming
Earlier on 4 March, we had made stood 10 metres away. It must have flare in his hand and the bear had
28| June-July |OUTSIDER
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