With a little luck, a lot of guts, and the help of a friend, a Scottish mountain climber managed to narrowly escape a grizzly attack in the Rockies earlier this week.
Greg Boswell and fellow climber Nick Bullock were on a route along Alberta’s famous Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff when the bear attacked. They were attempting to ascend Mount Wilson and, according to Bullock’s blog, were “bushwacking through thick forest” well after sunset in search of their next pitch.
According to reports, the bear went after Boswell, who attempted to run away from it through the deep snow. After Boswell tripped and fell, the bear lunged at him.
“Greg kicked at [the grizzly] and it bit straight through his brand new boot as if it were carpet slipper. It lunged once more and crunched into his shin, placing a paw on his other leg before lifting him off the ground,” Bullock detailed in his blog.
Boswell managed to escape by grabbing the bear’s mouth and prying apart its jaws. According to The Gaurdian, Boswell was also wearing a headlamp, and its light may have helped startle the bear.
Once Boswell was free, the pair ran into the woods screaming, following what they thought were their own tracks. But amidst the confusion and darkness, they ended up lost. They spent the next hour searching for the cliff where they had left their ropes. By this time, it was pitch black outside, and they were forced to head back to where they first encountered the bear.
“Following Greg’s bloody footprints, I wondered at what distance bears can smell blood,” Bullock wrote.
Eventually, the climbers found their route. From there, they had to descend three steep vertical drops by rope, then drive another two hours into town to reach the hospital in Banff. It was 2:30 a.m. by the time they arrived at the emergency room.
While Bullock sat in fine condition, the same could not be said for his friend.
“Greg couldn’t drink anything, as the five huge holes in his shin, which now resembled a thigh, might need surgery, but I told him the ginger beer tasted good,” Bullock wrote.
Joking aside, if it weren’t for Bullock, the two men may have never made it off the mountain alive.
“I literally owe my life to Nick,” Greg wrote on Facebook. “I was in shock after the incident and didn’t know what to do…I probably would have died of hypothermia or blood loss if he hadn’t kept me going. My stupid idea was to climb a tree and wait until daylight.”
Boswell was treated for five large puncture wounds and was released from the hospital the next day.
A Parks Canada official told CBC News that the two men “likely surprised this bear as it was trying to den,” which led it to attack because it felt threatened.
The area has been closed to the public for the rest of the winter to allow the bear to hibernate. Officials are also urging people to take precautions in the park, such as making noise, travelling in groups, and carrying bear spray.