Basic Camp

Cadets climb and conquer towering obstacles at Forest Hills Climbing Complex

FORT KNOX, Ky. – The heat and heights made training challenging for 5th Regiment, Bravo Company Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET) Cadets as they climbed and conquered towering obstacles at Forest Hills Climbing Complex (FHCC) July 5.

Cadets rotate through the Rockwall, Alpine Towers and the high ropes course, which consists of eight subparts. The lowest obstacle stands at 45 feet while the highest – the Rockwall – towers above the treeline at 60 feet.

Cdt. Daphne Wong, University of California-Davis, 5th Regiment Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET), successfully makes it to the top of the Alpine Tower at Forest Hills Climbing Complex at Ft. Knox, Ky., July 5. Photo by Linh Nguyen

Cdt. Daphne Wong, University of California-Davis, 5th Regiment Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET), successfully makes it to the top of the Alpine Tower at Forest Hills Climbing Complex at Ft. Knox, Ky., July 5. Photo by Linh Nguyen

Maj. Christopher Klich, FHCC Officer in Charge (OIC) and an instructor of military science at Providence College, said some Cadets are eager when approaching the high obstacles while others are hesitant.

“They realize the fear is more mental than it is anything else,” Klich said.

As Cdt. Rory Hennessy climbed up the Rockwall, his fear dwindled and his trust in his battle buddy climbed as well, he recalled.

“It’s nerve-wracking trusting your battle buddy. It was quite obvious that they had me and the situation under control the entire time. When I started off, I looked down and they looked determined to help me get to the top,” Hennessy, a junior engineering major at West Virginia University, said.

The course forces Cadets to step outside of their comfort zones.

“It builds confidence because it expands their comfort level just a little bit,” Klich said.

Cdt. Desiree Aguilar, a junior nursing major at the University of the Incarnate Word, said she felt accomplished after completing each obstacle.

“Things aren’t what they always appear to be. You have to do it yourself to really know how to maneuver through it,” Aguilar said.

Cdt. Ian Skewes, Florida State University, 5th Regiment Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET), hangs on a rope as he tries to reach for the Rockwall at the Forest Hills Climbing Complex at Fort Knox, Ky., July 5. Photo by Linh Nguyen

Cdt. Ian Skewes, Florida State University, 5th Regiment Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET), hangs on a rope as he tries to reach for the Rockwall at the Forest Hills Climbing Complex at Fort Knox, Ky., July 5. Photo by Linh Nguyen

Klich revealed the obstacles are more than just confidence builders for Cadets.

“Someday as officers, they may have to give Soldiers an order that produces fear, anxiety – the whole spectrum of human emotions. This gives them a little bit of a baseline reference to help them understand the psychological impact of when they give an order they don’t need people to think about,” Klich said.

“We’ll be able to put ourselves in their shoes,” added Aguilar.

The confidence course serves as an opportunity for Klich to interact with Cadets. He uses it to encourage and motivate them.

“I remind the Cadets that fear exists mostly in our heads and we gotta get past that. Whatever mechanisms they develop here will hopefully help with their leadership development,” Klich said.

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Sade' Wilson

Sade' Wilson is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in media and journalism and minoring in religious studies.

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