FORT KNOX, Ky. — Cadets from Charlie Company, 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp (CLC) conquer the 64-foot rappel tower July 18. Cadets first go through extensive safety training. They were taught how to properly belay and rappel off the towers and what to do if they ended up falling.
Throughout the safety briefing, Cadre repeatedly told the Cadets to “keep a loose grip on the ropes! Don’t deathgrip your ropes! You won’t be able to rappel if you hold on too tight!” because of the previous multiple occurrences of this mistake.
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Wondolkowski, from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, has been teaching the rappel course at Fort Knox for two years.
He asked the Cadets who’s afraid of heights. A few raised shaky hands.
“You’re not afraid of heights, you have a great respect for them, right?” Wondolkowski laughs. “There’s nothing to be afraid of if you just trust each other.”
After the safety briefing, Cadre also taught Cadets how to secure their ropes and how to properly tie harnesses. After the rope training, Cadets must go through two levels of rappeling before conquering the final tower—which stands at 64 feet. The slant wall gold tower is the entry training, which is the smallest tower. The slant wall black tower is the middle training, which is larger. Finally, Cadets conquer their fears and rappel off the largest tower, which stands at an intimidating 64 feet.
Wondolkowski explained the overall purpose for this training.
“The rappel tower is to build confidence and to overcome fear. We want the Cadets to push past their fears and to build trust in themselves and their peers. There’s a technique to rappelling
and it’s fun for them,” Wondolkowski said.
Cdt. Ben Solem talked about his experience with the 64-foot tower.
“It’s frightening. It takes a lot of personal courage to do it. The purpose of this exercise is to create trust, to build a team—because the Army is essentially one big team,” Solem said.
After the rappel tower, Cadets moved to the confidence course, which included various obstacle courses.
The day’s training hopes to inspire Cadets to go forth with confidence in everything they do.