“I’m luckier than hell, to be honest.” –Barry Olson
Gnarly story out of Wyoming where a man survived a grizzly bear attack last month near Meeteetse. The Cody Enterprise reports Barry Olson of Buffalo, NY, comes out the Cowboy State every summer in his personal quest to reach the top of every 13,000-foot peak in the state.
Olson was on his way down from the 13,164ft summit of Francs Peak (his 33rd conquest) on June 27th when he came to face to face with the apex predator.
“I was going down, over the ridge, and couldn’t see that far ahead. We just happened to cross paths – I was going down, he was coming up.”
“I took one small step away from him, but then he started to move toward me. I tried to get to my bear spray – it had been clipped on my shoulder – but they move so damn fast. He was on me before I could even get to it.”
The bear attacked and Olsen was in a fight for his life for 30-60 seconds.
“They say the bear attacked me five times, but I’d almost call it like one attack. After it got me the first time, bit me and shook me around, I tried to go for my bear spray again because he paused. But it was only a pause of a couple seconds. Then it was on top of me again. After that, I just played dead. The bear had me 3 or 4 feet off the ground, flipped me over and dumped me on the ground. Then … he just left.”
Though severely injured, Olson never lost consciousness. Olson has two takeaways he wants to share from the experience. First, he suggest climbing early “so if something happens, you’ve got some light to work with.” Second, he recommends caring a personal locator beacon, something he has been doing for the past 15 years, “They’re supposed to take the search out of search and rescue — and they work.”
Olson activated his beacon after the attack and after several hours help arrived. He was transported by helicopter to a hospital in Billings where he was treated for significant muscular wounds to both thighs and the triceps of his left arm. He was discharged Friday and is doing well in his recovery.
As for his climbing quest, he is definitely sidelining it for a bit. Olson promised his daughter that he wouldn’t climb a mountain for at least a year but is open to the possibility in the future.