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Running Wild Recap: Bradley Cooper Faces Fears and Conquers a Chasm

Bear Grylls continues to teach essential survival skills to guest stars while testing their physical and mental comfort levels on the second season of Running Wild: The Challenge (Sundays on National Geographic at 9/8c). As part of the process, the celebrities must then apply their newfound knowledge to escape the wilderness without Bear’s help.

On the premiere episode, Bear meets up with Bradley Cooper in the rugged canyons of Wyoming for a hair-raising, life-changing winter adventure. The actor connected with the seasoned survivalist after watching every single episode of Running Wild while sick with COVID for the second time. Bradley explains he wants to be part of the show because he believes it’s important to “keep putting yourself into uncomfortable places, testing yourself to learn who you are.”

“Bradley, you’ve come to the right place,” Bear says of their impending time in this wild western state.

Bradley Cooper
Credit National Geographic for Disney/Jeff Ellingson

Day One: Hooks, Ropes, and Ladders

Bradley and Bear are picked up in a helicopter and dropped off in a remote canyon. The two immediately are forced to brave 50-mile-per-hour winds and a nine-mile hike through what Bradley says is a Mad Max-like landscape. “Wyoming is never simple,” Bear says. “This is one of the windiest, harshest climates in North America here.”

Bradley Cooper
Credit National Geographic for Disney/Jeff Ellingson

The first challenge: Bradley, who’s terrified of heights, must cross a deep, 100-foot-wide ravine. Bear pulls out and assembles a grappling hook gun and shows the American Sniper actor how to take factors like wind and angles into consideration before shooting the hook and rope to the other side of the chasm. Bradley’s first shot is a success. Bear adds a pulley to the rope and teaches Bradley how to pull himself across. “This is one of those moments where you really have to take a leap of faith,” Bradley says.

After successfully crossing the abyss like an old pro, he notes, “I can’t even imagine what’s in store.”

The two push on, and as the wind picks up and the weather grows colder, the pair come to another towering ravine. This time, Bear teaches Bradley some mountaineering skills, like how to tie off ropes into a 90-degree vector with two anchor points to distribute their weight equally so they can descend the 400-foot cliff. “You’re going to love it—enjoy!” Bear tells Bradley, who responds with a smirk.

Despite Bradley acknowledging this challenge is more “terrifying” than the last, he keeps his composure and nails it. They then reverse course and ascend the ravine with a notoriously tricky caving ladder. “You’re going to get beaten up, you’re going to get a few scratches, but it’s just part of it,” Bear says.

Credit National Geographic for Disney/Jeff Ellingson

At the end of the day, altitude, adrenalin, fatigue, and dehydration take their toll. But the two are able to recover for the night—and stay safe from mountain lions—by sleeping on beds suspended with carabiners in the middle of a cliff.

There’s only one major problem during the night: “The number-two situation seems to be rearing its head,” says Bradley, who decides he has to somehow hold it in until morning.

Day Two: Challenge Accepted 

Snow blankets Bradley and Bear’s perch when the two wake up, and Bradley worries about using what he’s learned to face challenges without his skilled sidekick’s guidance. “I can already feel the lack of the anchor of him, which is not the best feeling,” he says.

The actor must now venture out on his own, find a suitable spot to traverse a deep canyon and reach Bear on the other side in order to escape the wilderness.

Credit National Geographic for Disney/Jeff Ellingson

“This is the point that I’ve been not looking forward to,” Bradley says as he ties his rope to two trees and checks the angle of his vector so he can fire his grappling gun.

The shot is good, and Bear secures the line on his end. Once on the other side, aspiring survivalist Bradley beams with pride. “I was scared for this one, but I feel wonderful,” he gushes. 

He adds: “I leave here a different person. I learned so much.”

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