The Beard: Ultimate Survival Tool!
Scottish adventurer Ricky Munday explains why
Nothing says ‘adventure’ like a big-ass beard. It goes hand in hand – or chin in chin, perhaps – with the frontier spirit, pioneering wanderings and extreme temperature. When a guy is sporting the full grizzly, you know he’s got a story to tell. But it’s more than just advertising for the soul. Why do explorers really need them?
'It's impossible to overstate the value of a beard when on expedition,” says adventurer and aid worker Ricky Munday, who leaves this October to climb Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid (www.aus3peaks.com).
“During an expedition in 2006, my team-mate and I were snowed in for two weeks. Comparing beards for length and coverage became almost more important than our climbing objectives!”
Beards keep a man sane when brought to extremes, clearly. But there’s science as well as sense behind it. In the cold, or at altitude, a beard keeps you warm. In hot conditions, it acts as a water reservoir that absorbs excess sweat. And, as Ricky points out, growing a beard gets even more useful.
“It’s easy to nick yourself shaving. In a tropical environment, any laceration can get infected quickly and become a serious issue. The second reason is convenience: on expedition, my routine is eating, hydrating and packing kit.
“Shaving would use up time and energy, which you can’t afford to squander at altitude. Conserving energy like this is what makes the difference between success and failure when you’re pushing yourself to the limit.”