I was in the Mountain Phase of Ranger School in the Tennessee Valley Divide, learning Ranger mountaineering skills. My Ranger buddy and I were tasked with climbing a steep cliff using just the gear from our rucksack.
With our sling-ropes and snap-links, we fabricated “stirrups” – a climbing aid used with pitons for mountaineering. On this climb the mountain was straight up and down, wet and slippery.
I began to climb with my Ranger buddy on belay. When your Ranger buddy is on belay it requires ultimate trust, communication, and teamwork.
As I ascended the cliff initially things went well. I was climbing from piton to piton using my stirrups, progressing at a steady pace. “Good to go”, I thought.
As I neared my objective I found myself in a spot where there was no piton to attach too. Now I had to free-climb without the aid off my stirrups to get to the next position. Not ideal.
Free climbing, I maneuvered to a point where I could see the next piton and feel the next hand hold – just a little bit beyond my reach. Stretching for it, I broke the number one rule of climbing: keep three points of contact at all times! Leaping for my next hold I fell!
The key to getting through Ranger School is having a good, ‘Ranger-buddy’. This is the guy that’s always got your back and you have his. Thankfully, my Ranger buddy was a good one and he was on belay and able to brake my fall just before I hit.
There I was hanging 3 feet from the ground with the Ranger Instructor yelling, “What are you doing Ranger?!?! WTF are you going to do now Ranger Dozier!?!?”
I still needed to complete my task. My mission wasn’t complete. Without saying a word, I did a mental BRAD (Back-up, Regroup, Assess situation, Drive-on), I picked myself up and I started to climb.
When I got to the spot where I fell, I made sure to follow one of those great leadership quotes from the Ranger Handbook: “Confirm what you think you Know.”
Recovering my stirrups and applying the ‘golden rule’, I successfully reached my objective. Ranger School was a great leadership development program for me. Definitely an Outward Bound alternative.
If you’re looking for a unique Leadership Development Program or military leadership training for civilians, contact Leading Concepts.
Charlie Company, 3/75