Amazing tale of Sidmouth survival expert Dave

THINK of the most extreme and challenging environments and terrains on the globe and Sidmouth man Dave Pearce has more than likely braved it.

THINK of the most extreme and challenging environments and terrains on the globe and Sidmouth man Dave Pearce has more than likely braved them.

Survival specialist Dave, 47, has travelled the world on wild adventures in humid jungles, scorching deserts and freezing mountains while lending his expertise to some of the country’s top television adventurers.

The dad-of-three from Knowle Gardens is a safety adviser to the television and film industry and has worked with famous explorers Bear Grylls and Bruce Parry.

A former Royal Marine Commando of 24 years, Dave has penned his first book, The Outdoor Survival Manual, to share his knowledge on how to cope in the most hazardous environments on earth.

When he spoke to the Herald, Dave had been back in the country for less than 24 hours after a three-week jungle adventure in Borneo with Bear Grylls - where encounters with huge wild boars and venomous snakes were still fresh in his mind.

Dave’s wealth of extreme experiences range from scaling Everest’s challenging North Face in 2003 to dining on bugs and maggots in far flung corners of the world.

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Growing up in Portsmouth, he developed a taste for the outdoor lifestyle and became a keen hill walker.

“Living in the city, going up mountains was like a different world. My passion for outdoor life grew from there,” he said.

“I always wanted to work outdoors.”

When Dave left the Royal Marines he got the opportunity to go on a trip with television adventurer Bruce Parry and spent three months in Greenland on an expedition to the North Pole.

“The biggest thing for me in many ways was when I summited Everest,” said Dave.

“I stepped over dead bodies on the way to the top and was the only Brit to summit that year. I was quite lucky to get down. My mate had to turn back with frostbite quite close to the top. It was a lonely and haunting place.”

Dave’s mantra is ‘come back alive, come back friends and come back successful’- in that order.

“I feel very fortunate and privileged I’ve been able to have these adventures,” he said, “It’s out there for the taking, whether your on Dartmoor or Everest- its all relative.”

Dave cites numerous jungle experiences among his toughest but revealed the environment can be surprisingly relaxing.

He said: “I remember the very first night I spent in the jungle. It was sensory overload and I hardly slept a wink in my crudely constructed hammock. I now have some of my best sleeps in the jungle. At night it comes alive.”

“I don’t find being in freezing cold, minus 40 degrees, water in Siberia as bad as struggling through the jungle in humidity. Jungles are tough work - going uphill is epic on ground that is always sodden and where every tree has a spike on it.”

Speaking about Bear Grylls, with whom he has become a friend, he said: “We’ve had lots of adventures together around the world in all sorts of environments.”

“It’s been good, bad, tough and great, emotional, non-emotional, funny and sad. That’s what these environments throw at you.

“We’ve become pretty good friends and Bear is an amazing guy, unbelievably motivated, with a steady head on his shoulders. His biggest attribute is his ability to motivate people in a good way.”

Bear Grylls wrote the foreword in Dave’s Outdoor Survival Manual and says of the Sidmouth man: “I have travelled to all four corners of the earth with Dave, we have had to work out ways to survive in some truly horrible conditions.

“The key to survival is the combination of skills, ingenuity and determination and there are few men with whom I’ve adventured who display these qualities as comprehensively as Dave Pearce.”

Despite frequently travelling around the globe Dave is a dedicated family man.

“When I’m home I love doing normal things like picking my daughter up from school. I’m not one to sit around though - I’ve always got to have a project on the go,” he said.

Dave’s wife of 22 years, Jane, said: “He’s always got exciting stories and I do get a bit envious. Its not a normal family life that’s for sure. Its more interesting for our girls to have their dad come home with tales about crocodiles and snakes rather than what happened in the office.”

On his first book, Dave said: “It’s all the things I’ve learnt over the years. I’m passionate about passing knowledge on to people.”

? Dave will be at a specially arranged book signing and question and answer session tomorrow (Saturday, February 5) from 2pm to 3pm in Shiver, Dove Lane, Sidmouth.