You call the wild "your office" -- what would you consider your most amazing accomplishment at the office?
BEAR: I've been on lots of big expeditions from Everest to the Arctic to the Antarctic and the Northwest Passage, but I'm pretty proud of the fact that we did seven seasons of 'Man vs. Wild' and thank the lord we all kind stayed safe as a team in some of the most hostile places. I remember after season one the director saying, "you'll never do more than one of these seasons because somebody will die".
What's the most you've ever gotten done in one day?
BEAR: I think summit day on Everest is a big day. You're on that mountain two-and-a-half-months total; the summit day is a good 23 hours of climbing. The height is about 26,000 feet, minus 30 degrees, carrying a large amount of weight. That's definitely a pretty full-on day with a lot of emotions. Four people lost their lives up there. Two died of the cold and two fell. It's a pretty heavy day.
What do you consider the craziest thing you've ever done to survive?
BEAR: There have been so many moments on the shows over the years. God, they all kind of blend into each other. Self-inflicted enemas on rafts, the humiliation of jumping on top of 15-foot tiger sharks, being caught in the water with crocodiles, a lot of dodgy waterfall vines, bitten by nasty snakes and stuff like that.
On your new show 'Get Out Alive', what's the most surprising thing you've learned about people?
BEAR: Their mold for a hero. You're used to movies where the hero is always this muscled, square-jawed dude. The reality is not like that. We start off with 20 people and they all talk a good story, but I said you have to impress me with your actions not your words. And you know, you take them on some big journeys, toiling away hungry, and thirsty, and tired 24 hours a day, all day. You learn what people are like. Some people crumble and some thrived ... If you think the American hero is dead, watch this [show], some incredible people emerge who've dug deeper than you could've ever imagined.
What's the worst thing that people are going to have to do to win $500K on this show?
BEAR: Well, the whole thing is about heart. Determination and character are the big measurements and how they continue in the face of big mountains, raging rivers and rapids, the super-dense rainforests [and] some incredibly bad weather. And all the time, living off the land and moving and carrying a lot of weight. And having to look after the weaker people. I think it's a mix of the actual sort of terrain and the weather ... that makes it really tough.
BEAR: Well, I think for me the really fun part of survival is always the resourceful part of it. You rarely have all the right things at the right time. You have to improvise. And you have to use everyday things like shoelaces and water bottles, straps of backpacks and belts and all these other things in inventive ways ... I love that side of it. Learning how to light a fire using just your cell phone. How to climb a tree using just your shoelaces. How to make a raft out of a backpack.
Would you consider cavemen the ultimate doers? I mean, seriously ... fire right?
BEAR: For thousands of years, it was an everyday skill just like kids tying their shoes ... you could start a fire with nothing. I think it's a shame that so few people know how to do it now. I think there's always a pride in men and women about being able to do simple, basic things like that when suddenly few people can nowadays. These cavemen were good because they had to be. It's like do or die. If you're not resourceful, deft and fast, you die. It's a good motivator.