Andy Torbet - Extreme Adventurer and TV Presenter on Coast and Operation Iceberg

This week I was introduced to Andy Torbet, a qualified Mountaineer, well respected caver, sea-kayaker, free diver and now TV presenter of BBC shows Coast and Operation Iceberg.


Earlier this year, Andy joined the presenting team on the 7th series of the popular TV show Coast, previously the programme coverred various subjects relating to both the natural and social history of the British coastline, I ask him if the show wants to include more adventure driven content and what difference he hopes to make.


They did bring me in to allow access to more adventurous material, Rock climbing the Needles (aired July 2012) was certainly very adventurous and not without risk. I am hoping to be given the chance to introduce more climbing, surfing, diving and kayaking into series 8 but as a zoologist I'm equally happy doing less extreme nature presenting.

The science that we undertook was genuinely ground breaking

Fresh from 6 weeks of filming in Greenland for Operation Iceberg, Andy's outdoor skills allowed him to explore the most inaccessible parts of the glacier and iceberg's.


We didn’t go there to make a programme about things we already know,  working alongside both British and American Glaciologists; the science that we undertook was genuinely ground breaking.


To give you an example, the Glaciologists need to drop sensors into the water as close to the iceburg as possible but because of breaking ice the ships can't get in as close as they would like, having myself there, I could swim in and dive down the side of the iceburg to give them precise readings from places that were previously inaccessible.

Polar Bears are the worlds biggest wild carnivore and awesome as they are, they're dangerous and I don't fancy getting eaten by one!

Camping in an environment where Polar bears roam around looking for food must be a very unnerving experience, did you have any close shaves?


The biggest thing you would see on the glacier where we were based would be the Arctic Fox's but on the iceburg there's a lot of Polar bears. I'd never seen one in the flesh, so as you can imagine, I was keen to see one.


My first sighting came when we were sailing towards the Ice berg for the first time, the beautiful creature was swimming alongside the ship, no more than 20 metres away, quite incredible.


There is a lot of them on the Iceberg and not only are they naturally very well camouflaged but they are very good at understanding the contours of the land,  they hide in the valleys, very much like a sniper would. They are the worlds biggest wild carnivore and as awesome as they are - I don't fancy getting eaten by one!

The important thing for me is getting people into enjoying Sports outdoors. The wilder and more remote the place – the better.


Andy Torbet


Being a man of action, I imagine Andy enjoyed the Olympics as much as the rest of us, I asked him if he thought the Games would actually encourage people to go and try the more extreme sports and if these sports really are accessible to all.


Yes, I think so, the last couple of years I've been into schools and spoke with Scout groups and other groups that aren't adventure based to encourage them to get out and about, it doesn't have to be extreme, you can buy a sea kayak for £20 or go snorkelling for next to nothing, wild camping... these things don't require a huge amount of training, skill or fearlessness. The important thing for me is getting people into enjoying Sports outdoors.


I think the Olympics has been great for getting people into athletics but I’m more interested in showcasing the great places in the UK where people can go and enjoy their sport, the wilder and more remote the place – the better. And I truly believe that anyone can do it.


During the excitment of last week's London Olympics, I felt inspired enough to Google 'Manchester Archery'... just for a moment I was dreaming of representing Team GB in Rio, could Olympic fever inspire an already inspired globe trotting adventurer?


Yes of course, I got back from Greenland on Tuesday night and started to catch up with the events I'd missed. To watch athletes at their best after 4 years of training for a specific event is truly inspirational, it makes me want to go out for a run, to train harder, I watched the Kayak sprint and I thought 'I might start racing kayak's, I think everyone does it, no one's immune from feeling that way.


Are you Scotland's answer to bear grills?

Ha-ha, there is a lot of adventure guys on the TV but I'm a qualified Mountain guide, diving supervisor, Kayak guide, free diver and experienced cave diver, I like to think I have the advanced technical skills to back me up.


Why should we watch Operation Iceberg?

Along with the new scientific information we share, the programme itself is beautifully cinematic, a glacier provides the most phenomenal scenery and in terms of nature's animals there's giant plankton, seals, mountain fox's and did I mention there's Polar Bears?!


Operation Iceberg will air on BBC2 9th September 2012

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