FORT KNOX, KY. — “Being brave is not about not being afraid of anything. It is about being afraid of something and going through with it anyway,” said 1st Sgt. Justin Davis, as he stood in front of the 64-foot rappel tower here.
Cadets from the 2nd Regt., Advanced Camp took on the daunting tower, in what some say is the one event Cadets dread most about CST.
Before Cadets conquer the rappel tower, they first learned to tie a swiss seat which is how Cadets rappelled the wall and free-fell.
“[The swiss seat], is a super tight knot and very uncomfortable. If it is comfortable, you did it wrong,” joked Noah Wiggins, from the University of Pittsburgh, “You are building trust in your equipment, just a simple rope is going to keep you alive and that is amazing.”
Cadre then checked each harness to make sure they were secure for Cadets to use.
Next, Cadets practiced on a smaller slanted wall so they know how to rappel correctly.
Cadets finally made their way up the tower. They went down the walled side first and would kick off of it with each rappel. After this, they went down the free-fall side which has no wall. Cadets had to hold the rope with a hand at the small of their back in order to successfully rappel.
According to Davis, the rappel tower, “is pretty much overcoming fears and obstacles, [specifically] if you are afraid of heights.”
“I did not really think I was really scared of heights until I got there,” said Brittany Thatcher, from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She preferred the free-fall side because she “felt more free and it was more exciting.”
Thatcher said she overcame her fear today and it was great learning experience for her. She said that the most challenging part was the mental aspect of overcoming her fear.
In her opinion, this is important because it builds trust between the Cadet and belay, the person at the bottom who holds the rope. Cadets have to trust that their belay will catch them if they fall.
The rappel tower is “not something you get to do everyday so take advantage of it,” said Thatcher.
“This summer has been a lot about getting outside your comfort zone and maybe doing some dangerous things, but also some very important confidence building activities,” Will Tanner, from the Virginia Military Institute.
He preferred the wall side, because the wall was there for him to bounce off.
The most challenging part for Tanner was not coming down, but remembering what to do when he was in the moment. “Do not worry about what could happen, if you do everything right it will happen the way you want it to,” said Tanner.
“I think having confidence in yourself stems down through leadership,” said Davis, “If you are a person who does not look very confident, it is more difficult for other people to follow you.”