FORT KNOX, Ky. — Working together in teams of two and three, Cadets from 1st Regiment, Basic Camp completed the Forest Hills Climbing Complex at Fort Knox, Ky., July 21, 2023. The FHCC is made up of three parts, the Rudder’s Rope Course, the Alpine Towers, and the rock wall. It challenges Cadets physically and mentally to overcome their fears and become confident in themselves, their peers, equipment and their Cadre. “You’re really learning to trust your equipment, being able to know it all works, and then trusting your peers because they’re the ones that are helping you get up and […]
FORT KNOX, Ky. — Working together in teams of two and three, Cadets from 1st Regiment, Basic Camp completed the Forest Hills Climbing Complex at Fort Knox, Ky., July 21, 2023.
The FHCC is made up of three parts, the Rudder’s Rope Course, the Alpine Towers, and the rock wall. It challenges Cadets physically and mentally to overcome their fears and become confident in themselves, their peers, equipment and their Cadre.
“You’re really learning to trust your equipment, being able to know it all works, and then trusting your peers because they’re the ones that are helping you get up and down,” said Cadet Legarreta Reylie, University of South Alabama. “We go through these things because we’re facing our fears.”
Each obstacle is designed for Cadets to work together, help motivate each other and push them to finish as one team.
“During the Rudders Rope Course, the Cadets are working with their battle buddy, ensuring that the lobster claws are still in place, communicating with each other properly, and just giving motivation to get to the next obstacle,” said 2nd Lt. Holly Humes, United States Army Cadet Command. “[The battle buddies] are ensuring that everything is going well and that there are no problems arising.
Once the Cadre teaches them how to belay properly, the Cadets go on to either the tower or the rock wall, they will then attempt the obstacles.
Battle buddies Reylie, Cadet Erika Velez, Eastern University and Cadet Sienna Sexson, Valley Forge Military Academy and College, trusted each other and worked together, as a belay team, to help each member safely reach the top of one the obstacles – the Alpine Towers.
“For the Alpine Towers, you’ve got a team of three, one person climbing and two on the ground,” Sexson said. “One of them is pulling the rope, making sure that you have no slack, and one is making sure that all that rope isn’t getting tangled around. They’re making sure that the person that’s climbing up that tower is getting up and coming down safely.”
Velez, like many Cadets before her, struggled to climb up this obstacle.
“I got three-quarters of the way up. I tried as much as I could, but couldn’t get up there,” Velez said. “My battle buddies gave me a couple of boosts, but I was just tired.”
As she faced the unwavering tower, Velez’s battle buddies continued to motivate her to climb. Even when facing failure, Velez was able to stay resilient and keep a positive mindset because of her teammates.
“They kept pushing me and motivating me to go forward, it’s always good to have people like that,” Velez said. “Even when you’re failing, you have people that keep motivating you. It was good to know that people think that you can do it and believe in you.”
Staying resilient, keeping a positive mindset and trusting in others are integral components to successfully completing each portion of the complex.
“Out on the battlefield, those to your left and your right will be the ones who trust you or you can trust,” Velez said. “Trust your battle buddies, because even if you don’t like them, they’re always going to be there for you. They’re not going to let you fall, we all push forward to make the mission easier, too easy.”
Moving forward as a team to the next obstacle, the Cadets continued to motivate each other through phrases, such as ‘too easy’.
“‘Too easy’, comes from our Drill Sergeant Fitzgerald, to get us motivated and to also motivate himself,” Reylie said. “Even if something is hard, he’s always running around saying ‘Too easy.’ So, when someone says it, someone else echoes, and we all echo. It gets us all pumped up because we’re all saying each task is too easy.”
Uniting under a motivational phrase can help Cadets feel more confident within themselves and stay resilient in the face of both physical and mental obstacles. When facing challenges, such as FHCC, Cadets can rely on their battle buddies because they share a similar journey and goal.
“When you come here, you’re a member of a team, you’re a part of a platoon, you’re a part of a squad, you’re a part of a regiment, and all of you have to work together to get through everything,” Sexson said. “You don’t do anything here alone, you don’t go anywhere alone, you don’t go through anything alone. Once you get through with that bond you can get through anything.”
When reflecting on the day and the many Cadets she worked with, Humes gives advice to future Cadets who will face the FHCC.
“Have confidence, even if you don’t have any. A lot of Cadets that I’ve seen out here say ‘I can’t do it’ and then they start getting really freaked out,” Humes said. “Close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, and just assess the situation.”