British climbers narrowly escape grizzly attack in Banff National Park
WARNING: This story contains a graphic image
A Scottish mountain climber succeeded in fighting off a grizzly high up in the Rockies near Banff, Alta., after it sank its teeth into his leg on the weekend, according to social media and other reports.
- WARNING: Graphic image below
Greg Boswell, 24, and fellow climber Nick Bullock had made a partial ascent of Mount Wilson, on the Icefields Parkway, and were trudging through deep snow well after sunset in search of the next pitch when the bear appeared.
"I spun to watch Greg sprint past me and in hot pursuit was a grizzly. The bear bounded, pulling and pushing the snow with powerful legs," said Bullock in his online blog.
Boswell fell on his back and the bear jumped on him.
"Greg kicked at Ursus arctos horribilis and it bit straight though his brand new boot as if it were a 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 said.
Boswell grabbed the bear's mouth, pried apart his jaws and got away, Bullock said.
"We both screamed and ran into the woods following our tracks."
The two retrieved their crampons and axes and spent the next hour searching in the dark for the cliff where they had left their ropes.
They got lost at one point and had to head back in the direction where they had last seen the bear.
"Following Greg's bloody footprints, I wondered at what distance bears can smell blood," Bullock said in his blog.
The climbers finally found their route down, and after three abseils and a two-hour drive to town, they got to the emergency room at Banff Mineral Springs Hospital.
"The friendly nurse asked me if I wanted a drink, but there was no wine on offer so I had ginger beer. 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.
On his Facebook page, Boswell — who is a well-known professional climber in the U.K., according to BBC News — says he is all stitched up and on the mend.
Jon Stuart-Smith, a human-wildlife conflict specialist with Parks Canada, says officials have concluded the bear attacked because it felt threatened.
"They likely surprised this bear as it was trying to den," he said.
Parks Canada officials have closed the area where the attack happened to allow the bear to hibernate, he said.
Stuart-Smith said Boswell was released after one night in hospital.