Fort Knox, KY. — 1st Regiment Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) Cadets marched to Torres Rappel Tower for a morning of challenging Army training.
“Prior to, we do a briefing, showing them everything they need to know in order to conduct this safely, and when they get on top of the tower, there’s a yellow line that’s up there. Every single one of my lane NCOs (non-commissioned officers) are all safely lined-in. This prevents anyone from falling in the event they lose their footing,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Wondolowski, officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Rappel Tower.
Cadets conducted three rappels. First, on a slanted wall much shorter than the main wall, standing at only 17 feet on either side. The second, on the main wall, towering 64 feet into the sky. After navigating the main wall, they conduct an open rappel with no walls. Upon completion, cadets assume belay position and procedure. Here, cadets are trained in safety procedures ensuring their peers are in good hands.
“As a leader, they’ve got to be able to overcome their fear. They have to be the example so they can push through the obstacle,” stated Wondolowski.
Though extensive safety measures are taken to prevent injuries, some cadets have a fear of heights that must be overcome to complete this portion of training.
“There are tips and tricks like getting them into the ‘L’ shape. Nine times out of ten, it’s generally just getting them over the edge. Once we get them over, almost every single one of them will rappel because gravity takes over from there,” said Wondolowski.
To ensure every cadet is seated correctly, stations are set-up to individualize knot-tying instruction. These lessons consist of proper techniques, safety measures and mountaineering skills.
“They’re getting confidence in the equipment itself, trusting the harness will stop them on the rappel tower. Before starting, equipment is inspected meeting safety protocol. This generally eliminates any fear or anxiety the Cadets have before roping in,” Wondolowski added.