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Military climbing training purpose

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 Myr 13 Nov 2020

Many military forces train in operating and travelling in mountain terrain, for obvious reasons. Additionally though, some military units (e.g. Royal Marine Mountain Leader) undergo training in actual technical climbing. This can be for rock, but sometimes even ice. I'm interested in the actual intended purpose of this.

Is this training in steep terrain just aimed at improving the soldier's ability in moving in more moderate terrain?

Or is it aimed at training soldiers for climbing technical terrain in a genuine warfare scenario? This seems less likely, because (albeit from photos) most military climbing training seem to be top-roping. 

But has pitched climbing ever been used in anger in a theatre of war? Pitching routes would seem a very vulnerable situation to be in tactically, but I can also see how it would be useful having a specialised unit able to fix ropes for less-specialised troops.

Post edited at 15:18
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 Andypeak 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

Watch "Behind the lines" on BBC I player and it explains everything. It's a 1970s documentary about the royal marines training for mountain warfare. 

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 Rod_Vortex 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

If the Scots had been able to solo Difs they would have been able to get up Peel Crag and into England and defeat the Romans no bother. 

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 Doug 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

there was some pretty fierce fighting in the Dolomites during the first World War and I think all the alpine countries have one or more mountain warfare groups, eg the French chasseurs alpins.

And they are not just for fighting, they also train to recover people from planes, etc which crash in the hills

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 nigel n 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

If I remember correctly there was some pretty fierce fighting around the Vallee Blanche between Chamonix and Courmayeur towards the end of WW2 - detailed by the great Lionel Terray in "Conquistadors of the Useless"

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In reply to Myr:

Nice documentary on youtube about military ice climbing ;-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or9IQOtt4ho&ab_channel=SamLancashire

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 DaveHK 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

Not an answer to your question but...

While working at a wall I grew very wary of the safety practices of military groups or those who told us they'd learned how to tie in and belay in the army.

Obviously that's a sweeping generalisation and there is some excellent practice in the military but there was also a real tendency to the gung ho, unconscious incompetence and unwillingness to take constructive criticism.

Post edited at 16:13
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 Rod_Vortex 13 Nov 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

I found that with instructors who'd got their badges in the military. Always thought it weird that a lot of commercial walls accept military quals in the same way they accept MT training. How has someone who got their qual in the Marines proven that they're capable of controlling twenty 6 yr olds?!

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 chris_r 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

Climbing techniques are commonly used to storm evil lairs in mountaintop Greek monasteries. Especially the use of prusik loops from your shoe laces.

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 LucaC 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

As I understand it, the majority of the adventurous training the army does is more about getting people out of the comfort zone, developing resilience and exposure to risk which is then a transferable skill if they're sent to a war zone. The obvious team elements, physical fitness etc should be quite obvious too. 

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 DaveHK 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Rod_Vortex:

> I found that with instructors who'd got their badges in the military. Always thought it weird that a lot of commercial walls accept military quals in the same way they accept MT training. How has someone who got their qual in the Marines proven that they're capable of controlling twenty 6 yr olds?!

For me it wasn't so much that as using out of date or just plain bad practices and being absolutely adamant that they were correct as that's how they did it in the army.

Like I say, obviously lots of good practice too but over the years I actually had to ask a few army groups/individuals to leave or refused them entry when they couldn't/wouldn't demonstrate safe technique.

Post edited at 16:36
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 Myr 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Andypeak:

Thanks, will have a watch. I see it's on Youtube too.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXJb_zlq7r4&

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 mondite 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

> But has pitched climbing ever been used in anger in a theatre of war? Pitching routes would seem a very vulnerable situation to be in tactically, but I can also see how it would be useful having a specialised unit able to fix ropes for less-specialised troops.

The US mountain infantry did at least one attack where they needed to rock/ice climb to get into position.

Some of the via Ferrata owes its origins to the WW1 Dolomite mentioned by Doug and so would have needed the experts to put it up before everyone else could use it to maneuvre.

I suspect some has come into play for the India/Pakistan conflict as well.

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 Myr 13 Nov 2020
In reply to nigel n:

Interesting stuff. It looks like the French resistance reconnaissance patrols took in some fairly technical terrain, including the Rochefort Arete. http://chriscowdreyclimbing.blogspot.com/2016/06/impeding-hitlers-endeavour-to-capture.html

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 richprideaux 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

There are two distinct training types - adventure training (AT) and the tactical type.

The former is more to do with sports and activity, in the same way as skiing, rugby and football are all popular 'military' activities.

The latter is the assault/sneaky climbing/mountain operations type.
Both types of training are conducted on British mountains and crags, sometimes the latter is dressed up as the former.


With regard to pitched climbing being used in war... all sorts of things happen in all sorts of places. I should imagine that there are some steep, rocky places where one wouldn't expect the enemy to assault via.

Some technical climbing skills are used for building assaults, and there are other options for assaulting steep ground. Pointe du Hoc was the scene of such things back in 1944: https://www.dday-overlord.com/en/normandy/commemorations/2019/photos/pointe-du-hoc

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 Myr 13 Nov 2020
In reply to mondite:

> The US mountain infantry did at least one attack where they needed to rock/ice climb to get into position.

Maybe this? The 10th Mountain Division fixing ropes up cliffs on Riva Ridge at night, for a surprise attack on the German position at the top. Sounds like they soloed up rock and mixed terrain and then fixed ropes for the rest of the troops. http://ww2today.com/18-february-1945-cliff-climb-assault-surprises-germans-on-riva-ridge

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Has nobody seen The Guns of Navarone?!  

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 Myr 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Doug:

> there was some pretty fierce fighting in the Dolomites during the first World War and I think all the alpine countries have one or more mountain warfare groups, eg the French chasseurs alpins.

> And they are not just for fighting, they also train to recover people from planes, etc which crash in the hills

Thanks, I wasn't familiar with the Dolomites WW1 action. Absolutely brutal. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/most-treacherous-battle-world-war-i-italian-mountains-180959076/

Scary mountaineering technique too https://tinyurl.com/y6tgjaog

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 GrahamD 13 Nov 2020
In reply to chris_r:

> Climbing techniques are commonly used to storm evil lairs in mountaintop Greek monasteries. Especially the use of prusik loops from your shoe laces.

Without the use of glue in pitons, too

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 elsewhere 13 Nov 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

Somebody was surprised when I told them cams are real and not Bond gadgets.

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 John2 13 Nov 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

There are two memorial plaques on Range East in Pembroke remembering soldiers who died while training there. I'm pretty sure they weren't actually climbing - possibly abseiling.

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 Rod_Vortex 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

Whether it's useful or not, it led to DMM releasing hexes in tactical grey, which must have had them laughing down the factory. 

Post edited at 18:17
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In reply to Myr:

> Thanks, I wasn't familiar with the Dolomites WW1 action. Absolutely brutal. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/most-treacherous-battle-world-war-i-italian-mountains-180959076/

> Scary mountaineering technique too https://tinyurl.com/y6tgjaog

It's interesting ski-touring round that area - gives you an insight into how grim it must have been to be posted there

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 gravy 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Slarti B:

I see he's called MacTavish - nice touch

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 Albert Tatlock 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

The Royal Marines consistently churn out UIAGM guides and MIC’s etc from their ranks 

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 Myr 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Rod_Vortex:

Indeed, the way a jangling set of hexes look is not their primary threat to stealth...

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 Mike Rhodes 13 Nov 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

A few years ago, here in the Eastern Pyrenees we were climbing at a local crag and a group of trainee Commandos came along and their officer set up a top rope and proceeded to tie a "French Prussic" knot with the intention of top roping a route. I tried to explain the risks in doing this but was well dismissed with the comment of "this is how we do it"! In a way I was hoping that he would fall off just to demonstrate how stupid he was.

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 chris_r 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

> Indeed, the way a jangling set of hexes look is not their primary threat to stealth...

Maybe not, but a hex on rope makes a fine close quarters weapon.

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 DaveHK 13 Nov 2020
In reply to chris_r:

> Maybe not, but a hex on rope makes a fine close quarters weapon.

You reveal yourself as not a fighting man. You need room to swing a hex and although it may intimidate it's inaccurate and unlikely to really damage your foe.  For truly desperate close quarter fighting a nut key is more accurate and capable of smartening up even the most determined fulmar. Or Kraut.  

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 Shani 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Albert Tatlock:

Rock-climbing in the Army got you a JSRL & JSRCI. I think the glorified walking badges were ML Summer and ML Winter.

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 richprideaux 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Rod_Vortex:

> Whether it's useful or not, it led to DMM releasing hexes in tactical grey, which must have had them laughing down the factory. 

You're a bit behind there, they've gone a wee bit further than some powder coating on some hexes:

https://helixtactical.com/

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 DaveHK 13 Nov 2020
In reply to richprideaux:

> You're a bit behind there, they've gone a wee bit further than some powder coating on some hexes:https://helixtactical.com/

I clicked on that and read 'maritime' as marmite. I suppose I can see how it could be weaponised. 

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 richprideaux 13 Nov 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

Depends on the size of the jar.

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 milclimber 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

It kinds of drops into two areas, a big part of adventure training is to boost confidence, moral or team building. Often it can be an escape, an R and R day in the middle of a shit job, where the quality of climbing is largely unimportant, it is just a matter of keeping them alive. There is a risk troops will get half an idea they know what they doing after a few hours. Just like a civvy could call themselves a climber after two trips to the climbing wall, then promptly deck out on the self belay because they forgot to clip in. There are numpties in both worlds. The difference is because they were a squaddy it stands out more. 

The other training is delivered by those with MIA, MIC or military instructor quals that mirror the civvy schemes. The logbooks and prerequisites are often identical and generally as the assessors have the MIA or MIC ticket as long as the candidate is registered on the civilian schemes they get both mil and civ qualifications. 

On the comment about them getting an ML and how would that compare to taking kids out on the hill. You try taking a group of 6 new recruits out! Often the newest and youngest in some army regiments are kids who were booted out of school, zero education, last chance in life saloon. You will need more of your soft and hard skills than your average day out with ´'normal' school kids. But the reward is it is often these inner city lads and lasses who have never experienced the outdoors in their life. They missed out on the annual weeks residential school trip etc..

Climbing uses to military; apart from being fun. Even with GPS navigation is still a pretty critical skill. If you can lead or even just second a low grade rock route, then you are probably more able to cope with low grade scrambling terrain on operations overseas without the immediate need of a rope. Etc. Most wars involve borders, many borders use mountain ranges as natural boundaries, so it would be foolish not to train for that environment. The ability to operate on steep ground also transfers to buildings, ships, oil rigs etc; be it oil tankers with refugees on or embassies in London. 

Post edited at 19:44
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In reply to Myr:

Has nobody read Joe Bones in the Victor comic?? 'Ave a look.

Post edited at 19:43

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In reply to richprideaux:

That came up in the big "Is Black Diamond part of the fascist military industrial complex?" thread (Or something like that) early this summer. 

Lots of interesting stuff, although it makes you realise DMM is as much of a company willing to make products that will sell as any other. 

Personally I would like one of these https://helixtactical.com/Products/Grapnel-Launchers they look even better than my clipstick!

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 Welsh Kate 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Rod_Vortex:

Since you brought the Romans into it - the Romans captured a cliff-top fortification in N.Africa during the war against Jugurtha in the late 2nd century BC. A Gallic auxiliary soloed the crag whilst looking for edible snails for dinner, then went and got reinforcements and they climbed the crag and forced an entry 8-)

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In reply to Myr:

Plenty of use for it in Afghan both with the Brits and the 10th. Most European forces have mountain troop units, same as having any specialist branch, paras, LLRPs etc, you never know when you might need them so good to have them them in the back pocket and keep current.

I did all my mountaineering/climbing courses in the military and transferred them to civvy street when I left. It’s exactly the same training, regulated by the same bodies, same level of excellent tuition and just to balance things out, I’ve seen plenty of crap civvy instructors on walls and in the hills also unwilling to either accept advice or take criticism. I’m sure it’s the same on both sides in literally any pursuit.

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 elsewhere 13 Nov 2020
In reply to TobyA:

> Personally I would like one of these https://helixtactical.com/Products/Grapnel-Launchers they look even better than my clipstick!

And that's not too roping. That's placing protection on lead. Whilst stood at the bottom.

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 SenzuBean 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

Technical mountaineering was involved in the cold war. The Nanda Devi incident occurred when the US attempted to place a plutonium-powered listening device on Nanda Devi, but... they lost it. To this day, there is leaking plutonium deep in the ice of Nanda Devi.

https://rockandice.com/snowball/the-secret-of-nanda-devi/

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 mondite 13 Nov 2020
In reply to Welsh Kate:

> Since you brought the Romans into it - the Romans captured a cliff-top fortification in N.Africa during the war against Jugurtha in the late 2nd century BC.

On the flipside their approach to climbing Masada wasnt really in the spirit of trad climbing.

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 Welsh Kate 13 Nov 2020
In reply to mondite:

Thank you for making me laugh. A lot! 

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In reply to mondite:

> On the flipside their approach to climbing Masada wasnt really in the spirit of trad climbing.

I believe it was what would be called a 'siege ascent'.  Bonners would have been proud.

I'll get my coat.

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In reply to TobyA:

I was thinking their tactical earth anchors would be perfect for some of the top outs at Boulder Ruckle. A couple of those on the harness would have saved me some brown trouser moments crawling up the grass and mud at the top of most of the 3* HVSs there

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 Andy Gamisou 14 Nov 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

> Not an answer to your question but...

> While working at a wall I grew very wary of the safety practices of military groups or those who told us they'd learned how to tie in and belay in the army.

> Obviously that's a sweeping generalisation and there is some excellent practice in the military but there was also a real tendency to the gung ho, unconscious incompetence and unwillingness to take constructive criticism.

You should observe their practises outside if you think that's bad!  I've had lots of opportunity over 15 years to observe various military groups on their adventure training and seen plenty of stuff that makes me shudder, both from a safety and from an ethical standpoint.  It also grates that they all use the terms "grips" for "holds" and "stickies" for "rock shoes" - admittedly a purely personal prejudice. 

I do find it odd that I've yet to meet one of their instructors that seems comfy leading much over 5c sport.

As for constructive criticism, they don't seem especially receptive when it's received from a slightly tubby couple in their late 50s.  I have on occasion pointed out belaying habits that were quite likely to kill one of their charges, but the instructors have had a quick look and deemed them OK.

On the plus side they do tend to clean up after themselves.

It would be nice if they contributed to the bolt fund, especially as they probably cause more wear and tear on the routes and the gear than every other user of the crags combined.....

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 Jp 14 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

There are two or three sources that describe Alexander the Great's assault of the Sogdian Rock in 4thC BCE. One of them tells us his troops used ropes and pitons to climb rock and ice (I think this is the source referred to in the wiki page linked) . Another tells us that the leaders ascended a less rocky and more wooded side, chopping down trees for platforms, ladders and bridges as they went. 

Either way, a pretty impressive feat. The Rock's Bactrian inhabitants were suitably impressed and duly surrended to the rampaging megalomaniac! 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sogdian_Rock

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 Wilderbeest 14 Nov 2020
In reply to SenzuBean:

That’s a great read, thank you for posting...

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 mutt 14 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

the battle of Monte Cassino is probably relevant

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino

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 Lankyman 14 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

Some of the replies on here remind me of an account I read years ago in one of the caving mags. It concerned a group of civvy cavers encountering an army group under 'instruction' down a Peak pothole (P8 I think). The troops were all cadets and it was very funny due to the obvious ineptness and lack of awareness of the officer in charge. One incident I remember was the narrator being distracted by something warm and wet touching his hand, only to look down and see the officers dog licking it.

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 Lankyman 14 Nov 2020
In reply to Jp:

> There are two or three sources that describe Alexander the Great's assault of the Sogdian Rock in 4thC BCE. One of them tells us his troops used ropes and pitons to climb rock and ice (I think this is the source referred to in the wiki page linked) . Another tells us that the leaders ascended a less rocky and more wooded side, chopping down trees for platforms, ladders and bridges as they went. 

> Either way, a pretty impressive feat. The Rock's Bactrian inhabitants were suitably impressed and duly surrended to the rampaging megalomaniac! 


It would be fascinating to know if any physical evidence of the ascent has been found - the account says they used pegs. Have any modern climbers attempted to trace a likely route? There has been good evidence found for Hannibal's crossing of the Alps and that was only a century or so later.

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 nufkin 14 Nov 2020
In reply to TobyA:

>  DMM is as much of a company willing to make products that will sell as any other

There's probably some reference I'm missing, but I find their 'Team Wendy' helmet range a refreshing change from the typical 'Skullfukker Kickass' approach to naming military stuff

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 Big Bruva 14 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

Soldiers have been climbing steep ground for at least 3000 years. In fact the first written record of climbing is during a military endeavour .

One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man bearing his armor, "Come, let's go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side."On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross was a cliff; one was called Bozez, and the other Seneh. One cliff stood to the north toward Micmash, the other to the south toward Geba. The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, "Come up to us and we'll teach you a lesson." So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, "Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel." Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him.

Micmash is now a sport climbing area where Israelites and Philistines climb together!

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 GarethSL 14 Nov 2020
In reply to nufkin:

Team Wendy is a company in itself - they started up making ski helmets after the founders daughter (Wendy) suffered a brain trauma whilst skiing and passed away. Their original line was primarily ski oriented, but of course in the US the real money is in the military contracts. They're slowly making a comeback to the more civilian/sar/ski patrol world however.

Post edited at 17:32
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 ThunderCat 14 Nov 2020
In reply to Andypeak:

> Watch "Behind the lines" on BBC I player and it explains everything. It's a 1970s documentary about the royal marines training for mountain warfare. 

Watching this now. Very interesting 

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 Morty 15 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

I remember reading about the SAS climbing to get into position to fight in Oman. I think it was called Jebel Akhdar. 

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 Nigel Coe 16 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

I saw soldiers climbing on Dartmoor. A hapless squaddy, off to the side of his toprope,  was delicately attempting to get back beneath it when the instructor screamed 'DON'T CLIMB IT, GET UP IT!!!'

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 hang_about 17 Nov 2020
In reply to Nigel Coe:

Something similar in Cornwall. A Dutch-UK joint exercise, trying to climb something in big boots. The poor guy was clearly struggling and a shout from above said 'I order you to climb this!'

Apparently, if he failed he had then disobeyed orders and would be made to run back to camp. It was also amusing that they were climbing on double ropes - both black for camouflage purposes. They had to shout out what they were doing at each stage (maybe not such a good idea if trying to surprise an enemy) - it was 'Take in on black!' - 'The other black!'

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 nniff 17 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

The third reason is to obtain an excuse not to wear green.  I managed to go climbing for months on end at Her Majesty's expense, and for a couple of months of that I was paid considerably more than had I been trundling around the north German plain wondering if the Soviets were feeling punchy that week.

My assessment was done by Paul Moores: we basically went cragging, taking a hapless but reasonably competent 'test subject' with us.  The assessment was supposed to be on V Diff or Severe, but instead we pottered around on E1s and E2s with suitable terrain traps for the test subject.  Not every military climber learned in the forces.  On the odd occasion when I was obliged to climb in green, it was rather fun to put some manners on those who thought I should be sweating my way up a minging chimney.  German para boots were rather good at edging.

At one stage, I went to the boss and told him that there was no point in me hanging around up north, but that I had a better plan.  It was a sound argument, skillfully delivered - I returned about four months later, having both run the plan to death and come to the end of a glorious summer.  Not long after that I decided that loitering in Germany was a waste of time- the next war would be in the Middle East - and so I resigned.  I was early by a year and a half.

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 wercat 17 Nov 2020
In reply to Denni:

I had to take some silly stuff from a guide on the chin on Striding Edge once.  I wanted to argue but the presence of a dying/dead person behind him made it inappropriate and I took my party back which made it look as if he was in the right, as it simply was not the time or place to have a pointless discussion.

My wife thought he had gone crazy from his look

Post edited at 18:34
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 mondite 17 Nov 2020
In reply to Lankyman:

> Have any modern climbers attempted to trace a likely route? There has been good evidence found for Hannibal's crossing of the Alps and that was only a century or so later.

I thought it was only suggestive so far and given how large that army was something smaller would be harder to match. There are lots of missing battlefields in the UK for example even when a reasonable idea of where they were fought were.

One UK example I have remembered was the Scottish capture of Edinburgh castle. Depending where they went up would either be a scramble or a low grade climb

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 DancingOnRock 17 Nov 2020
 Andy Gamisou 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Denni:

> I did all my mountaineering/climbing courses in the military and transferred them to civvy street when I left. It’s exactly the same training, regulated by the same bodies, same level of excellent tuition.

Guess we've different concepts of excellent.

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There are plenty of military climbing muppets with qualifications, most noticeably those who have not progressed beyond the military equivalent of SPA.

There are plenty of non-military climbing muppets with qualifications, most noticeably those who have not progressed beyond SPA.

Post edited at 11:13
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 Lrunner 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

Its worth reading the war is in the mountains, pretty much explains the topic. There is an amazing book about American Mountain troops called "The boys of winter" which details their exploits in world war two. The 10th mountain were mad up of the best skiiers and climbers in the world. well worth seeking out. 

My cousin is a Mountain Soldier in Austria. Given that their borders are all in the hills it makes sense that they are good climbers. He loves it

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In reply to Lrunner:

Probably worth noting that the current US 10th Mountain Division are a mountain unit in name only, they're a normal infantry unit and have been for some time.

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 Timmd 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> Guess we've different concepts of excellent.

Perhaps you could have encountered different levels of competence?

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 wercat 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

Spent two weeks in a campsite at Lauterbrunnen in summer 1995 - when I arrived I saw ranks of olive vehicles and noted the sturdy type doing pressups in the stream near the entrance.

Turned out we were sharing the camp with a cadre of 30 or 40 Royal Marines doing Alpine training.  It was an entertaining fortnight to say the least!  Some very interesting times in the bar and in the huts.  They left us a whole load of unused ratpacks at Concordia when they skied off.

Respect to the one called "he's a monster - show them your scars" who looked as if he must have been nearly cut in half in the Falklands judging by the enormous scar tissue right round his middle from shrapnel.

Post edited at 12:26
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 GrahamD 18 Nov 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

I don't think the military actually loses many whilst climbing so their practices (from a safety perspective) can't be so bad.

Environmentally is a different matter.

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 Lrunner 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Ridge:

True enough now, though not in WW2. In WW2 there really were the best climbers in the states.  They set up most of the ski resorts in the western states, help found OB USA and NOLS. 

Post edited at 12:42
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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

Dave,

Yes you're in danger of broad brushing here, I've seen countless people practicing unsafe techniques, it's down to diplomatic management of the situation. But to put a 'management head on', perhaps next time you see anything like this, speak to them diplomatically and try not to openly publicise your feelings about our military. They lay their lives on the line for us and deserve better, yes they like a lot of people make mistakes and there is sometimes a gung ho attitude amongst them but they are the minority and are soon weeded out, but after over 30 years as a mountaineering instructor I've not once encountered an instructor with a bad attitude, just a will to learn from empathetic and polite souls. So I think your experience of gung ho military personnel is a broad brush approach. 

In my opinion, your reply should not have been in the context of berating the military, you should have kept to the subject at hand. Perhaps I should be a moderator, but then again, I wouldn't have time to use the loo after reading some rather immature and unnecessary posts here mucker

Safe climbing Dave

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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Rod_Vortex:

Hi Rod,

Just a few words in reply:

  1. I'm guessing that you've not met many military instructors. 
  2. The military quals are the equivalent to those of civilian quals.
  3. Was there a problem when you (I suppose) witnessed one marine supervising twenty x 6 year olds? If so you should have reported him to the local council, I'm guessing that, wherever you spotted the 'offender', the management should be publicly berated too. FYI, all military personnel are appropriately qualified to teach in whatever their subject might be, they also have an obligation to manage groups with the correct qualifications and safety certificates and would be accompanied by a certified responsible adult and to the correct adult:child ratio. 
  4. As in my response to Dave, please try to keep your broad brush comments to yourself, sagging your military merely riles this who support those brave men and women that watch over you while you're in deep slumber.  
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 Myr 18 Nov 2020
In reply to DancingOnRock:

09:32 onwards is a bit worrying...

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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

So you've never had civilians who have practiced unsafely??? The army are an easy target  and yes its so easy to berate an easily identifiable group, but please don't air your dirty washing in public, have some respect for what they do for you on the battlefield. Keep it to yourself next time, but do offer some friendly and diplomatic guidance, which would go a long way.

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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Mike Rhodes:

Exactly what was he doing with the french prussik? Again Mike, you're publicly berating the military, its just not helpful and makes them look incompetent, perhaps he personally was incompetent but it would be helpful if instead of being an invisible man, you wrote him a letter explaining why his practice was dangerous instead of 'outing' the military. 

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 DancingOnRock 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

That was the best bit! 
 

I was actually look for a TV program of some marines on commando ridge, but thought that was better. Especially as it framed it with reference to cliff landings at Normandy and Brittany. 

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 DancingOnRock 18 Nov 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

Maybe in the army, they’re more concerned with getting up a face quickly without death from being shot, than ensuring they’re employing a system that civilians use who are more worried about death from falling. 

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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

As a fellow over 50 year old, I think your attitude to the military stinks. You're mature enough to keep this stuff to yourself or close company, perhaps you should have voiced your concerns in the same way to them when you came into contact with them.... no, I thought you wouldn't be that type otherwise you'd not be acting in this cowardly manner behind a laptop.

Be a brave lad, if you've got something against our military, write to the MoD.

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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Shani:

What's your point Shani? 

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 DaveHK 18 Nov 2020
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> Maybe in the army, they’re more concerned with getting up a face quickly without death from being shot, than ensuring they’re employing a system that civilians use who are more worried about death from falling. 

Ibrox gets a bad reputation but no-one was shooting at them in the wall.

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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Lankyman:

He might have been the officer in charge, but he may not have been the appropriately qualified cave leader, how about raising your adverse comment. Your reply to Mr Myr is incorrect and does not answer his question, rather it makes a mockery of your armed forces, who frequently guard your soft behind while is sits in front of the fire and supports the arse above it.

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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to hang_about:

I think they call it humour, no, not the black type

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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

Andy, how can you be such a dickhead. You should retract your childish comments.

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 Billhook 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Myr:

>

> Is this training in steep terrain just aimed at improving the soldier's ability in moving in more moderate terrain?

> Or is it aimed at training soldiers for climbing technical terrain in a genuine warfare scenario? This seems less likely, because (albeit from photos) most military climbing training seem to be top-roping. 

> But has pitched climbing ever been used in anger in a theatre of war? Pitching routes would seem a very vulnerable situation to be in tactically, but I can also see how it would be useful having a specialised unit able to fix ropes for less-specialised troops.

I guess it may serve a slightly wider purpose.  Overtraining is common.  A  limbing partner of mine who fought in the Falklands (a marine),  told me that one of the assaults he did - at night in gale force winds and sleet/snow was over and through a steep rocky outcrop.    Knowing that all of the troop with you were perfectly capable of managing it - because they'd all spent ,2, 3 or more winters, climbing & skiing at night in Arctic Norway, made their ascent quite straightforward in terms of the climbing.  They just had to do it silently and with their fighting equipment on.

I'm not sure whether pitched climbing has ever been used in a theatre of war - but if it was necessary, you wouldn't want to wait and train soldiers  on the spot.  You'd want them already able and capable - wouldn't you?     

Thats why all of the military, in many countries 'overtrain'.  It may not be necessary or likely now - but you never know.  Our RMs trained every year in Norway to be able to fight Russians in Northern Europe.  To be able to do that meant they had to have and use every element of winter skills going - climbing, skiing and so on.    

At least on international guide I know ,was a, RM and a member of the Arctic Warfare Cadre  he has represented this country  in X-country skiing.  I want the best on our side.

Post edited at 19:44
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 energico 18 Nov 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

I concur Nick.

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 DaveHK 18 Nov 2020
In reply to energico:

> perhaps next time you see anything like this, speak to them diplomatically

That's exactly what I did whenever I saw bad practice, military or not. Unfortunately I found the military groups far less receptive to that.

> and try not to openly publicise your feelings about our military.They lay their lives on the line for us and deserve better

Sorry, but I don't think the military should be above criticism and what they do in their day job doesn't make unsafe practice acceptable in their leisure time.

> So I think your experience of gung ho military personnel is a broad brush approach. 

I acknowledged that.

> In my opinion, your reply should not have been in the context of berating the military, 

It wasn't berating, just offering my observations based on what I saw. Others might have been more negative but I deliberately avoided that and kept it factual.

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 wercat 18 Nov 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

They lost a senior NCO high up in the mountains during the Lauterbrunnen camp - though they suspected it might have been health related due to the way it happened.

They gave him a hell of a good send-off in the bar a riot, in a good way

Post edited at 19:59
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In reply to Myr:

The world's highest military post was captured from Pakistan by Indian troops with access gained via ice climbing. The whole conflict is more a battle with the elements, the terrain and the altitude rather than the opposing sides.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Rajiv

The photos of the area are stunning, shame it's a war zone.

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 Shani 19 Nov 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

> It wasn't berating, just offering my observations based on what I saw. Others might have been more negative but I deliberately avoided that and kept it factual.

This energico fellow is a bit sensitive isn't he?

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In reply to Shani:

> This energico fellow is a bit sensitive isn't he?

Shouldn't join up if you can't take a joke 😉

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 Big Bruva 19 Nov 2020
In reply to energico:

> have some respect for what they do for you on the battlefield.

They have absolutely zero mandate from me to wage war in foreign countries. You don't respect someone just because they're wearing a uniform and carrying a gun!

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 Lankyman 19 Nov 2020
In reply to energico:

> He might have been the officer in charge, but he may not have been the appropriately qualified cave leader, how about raising your adverse comment. Your reply to Mr Myr is incorrect and does not answer his question, rather it makes a mockery of your armed forces, who frequently guard your soft behind while is sits in front of the fire and supports the arse above it.


You're very touchy - are you ex services? I've caved with several such and they all had a great sense of humour, including taking the Mick out of themselves, their officers and other units (especially). It was a pleasure to hear their stories. If you actually read my comment it was a magazine article so how could I have raised  my 'adverse comment' with anyone at the time? My brother and father both served, an uncle in WW2 and both grandfathers in WW1 and I do think our armed forces are to be supported but you really need to lighten up a little.

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 Mike Rhodes 19 Nov 2020
In reply to energico:

The prussik was attached to his harness and he was top roping a 15m route. I tried diplomatically to explain to him the potential danger of him falling off but he was having nothing of it and was quite arrogant. I am not trying to "out" the military, but this, in recent times is the only time I have seen this practice, hence the comment. He was an officer of a commando unit here in the Eastern Pyrenees so should have known better.

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 Andy Gamisou 19 Nov 2020
In reply to energico:

> As a fellow over 50 year old,

Well, until you complete your profile you're really in a position to comment are you?  What's the matter - afraid to?

> I think your attitude to the military stinks.

Does it?  How do you know my "attitude" to the military, other than in the context of their climbing courses that I witness and have commented on?  I married the daughter of warrant officer (first class) who had fought in Burma - full respect to him and others who do these things.  Doesn't mean they all get a free pass in all activities.

> You're mature enough to keep this stuff to yourself or close company, perhaps you should have voiced your concerns in the same way to them when you came into contact with them

 I have voiced my concerns, on many occasions.  Last time was about 3 weeks ago - was met with the sulky attitude of a teenager getting told off - even though I was remarkably diplomatic by my standards.  A few times in the past things have got heated with them, to the point of them getting quite threatening, and on at least one occasion I have thought one has going to try and throw a punch.  (this isn't the same people all the time - most groups of military don't behave that way, but some have).

> .... no, I thought you wouldn't be that type

And how would you know that exactly?

> otherwise you'd not be acting in this cowardly manner behind a laptop.

I'm thinking irony isn't your strong point.

> Be a brave lad,

Grow up pal, you know nothing about me.  Refer to bits below.

> if you've got something against our military, write to the MoD.

Well, on what was the worst occasion that is exactly what I did.  A group had appeared on a Thursday, and installed "don't cross" tape, across the width of the main part of the crag, so keeping people away from their course.  They also stuck tape on the routes (numbered I think).  Who knows why.This was pretty unprecedented, what with it being the single most popular crag in the country, and a country in which they are guests - it was not the UK.  It is a country that Brits ought to keep a bit of a low profile though, and not annoy the inhabitants too much.  As my wife and I were the only ones there, I let it pass and we used the bit of the crag we could get to easily.  I had assumed that they'd remove the stuff at the end of the day.  But no - they left it all in situ over the weekend, apparently because they were returning on Monday.  This pissed off locals no end, along with myself.  So I sent a brief email to their PR people asking them to maybe keep a bit of a lower profile.  The guy who was leading the team was pretty mad when I next encountered him, and couldn't understand the issues what with "no one else ever using the crag" - seemingly he didn't bother to check and find out there would be shit-loads of people there over the weekend.  Even after explaining this to him, he was pretty unrepentant and this was the occasion that i was pretty close to getting into a fight (well, one of them).

I notice that you didn't respond to any specific points in my post.  How about addressing just one - running top-rope courses off the gear paid for and installed by locals (myself included), whilst never (despite being asked) contributing to their cost. As a military organisation.  In a foreign country.  Being the biggest (by far) group user of that gear.  Feel good about that?  Think it gives a good impression?  Come lad, be brave.  Respond.

Post edited at 11:27
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 Andy Gamisou 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Timmd:

> Perhaps you could have encountered different levels of competence?


Yes, quite possibly.  My experiences are from careful observation of groups on the same three crags in the same country.  Maybe in other areas they are pretty good.  I have had the chance to observe many different teams over the years though, joint services and the UN (albeit 90% Brit UN) and they all operate similarly in my experience.

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In reply to Big Bruva:

> You don't respect someone just because they're wearing a uniform and carrying a gun!

That rather depends on if they're pointing it at you at the time...

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 Lankyman 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Ridge:

> > You don't respect someone just because they're wearing a uniform and carrying a gun!

> That rather depends on if they're pointing it at you at the time...


There's a world of difference between fear and respect

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 Big Bruva 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Ridge:

> That rather depends on if they're pointing it at you at the time...

I've had one trained on me for several minutes by a uniformed knobend. Didn't induce any feelings of respect, just contempt. That said, I knew I was pale enough to make shooting me more hassle than it was worth (the knobend in question had just shot a local kid in the leg!)

Still liked your joke though! For sure a gun can force respect ;) 

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 Big Bruva 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Mike Rhodes:

> The prussik was attached to his harness and he was top roping a 15m route. I tried diplomatically to explain to him the potential danger of him falling off but he was having nothing of it and was quite arrogant. 

Recent tests by Italian mountain guides suggest that prussiks can be used to hold leader falls. Maybe the guy had tried and tested the method...

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 gethin_allen 19 Nov 2020
In reply to TobyA:

The thing that winds me up the most about helix tactical/DMM is the address on the website. Offis fawr! As a translation of head office! and I thought the Gogs were the real bastions of the Welsh language and us Southerners were the ones that talk tidy.

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Perhaps military climbing is just the equivalent of eg civil servants going on a painting balling experience for team bonding?

I've encountered the army climbing several times..  usually quite amusing!

1.   " Permission to fall off sergeant?!" "Permission refused!"

2    Arriving at the shared belay on a Cornish route, I was met with the comment, " I'm a trained sniper, you know!"

3.   Having to relay comments to  a soldier belaying his mate in the Moelwyns because his tinnitus was so bad after being blown up in Afghanistan that he couldn't hear,  "Climb when ready" etc.

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In reply to earlsdonwhu:

> Perhaps military climbing is just the equivalent of eg civil servants going on a painting balling experience for team bonding?

A mate returned from a deployment in Afghanistan and underwent some 'decompression training' (or something like that) on returning.

Some bright spark had decided that after a few months running around trying not be shot or blown up a bit of paintballing would make a nice change for the lads.

Wasn't well received for some reason.

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 Jp 20 Nov 2020
In reply to Lankyman:

Sorry for the late reply, it's been a busy week. It looks like I need to shout over the incessant din of UKC squabblers, I hope you can hear me!   

Alas, to my knowledge (and I'm no expert) there isn't any physical evidence. It's probably all Macedonian propaganda, a story that became more exaggerated with each telling. But that's not to say it's meaningless. The major accounts we have of the siege date from the first and second century AD. One of the sources I mentioned who described what you and I recognise as mixed or ice climbing is Arrian, a Greek historian who wrote The Anabasis of Alexander around 130 AD. Though he wrote it 500-odd years after Alexander's drunken rampage across Asia, it at least shows that climbing frozen rock and ice with metal pegs and rope was within the ancient Greek imagination. Perhaps it was within their experience too...

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 Yanchik 20 Nov 2020
In reply to Jp:

Anabasis ? The clue's in the name... it was a mountaineering book after all.  

(katabatic = downhill)

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In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> Guess we've different concepts of excellent.

My standards are very high. Maybe you just have a lower bar than me? I’m sure you could improve if you applied yourself  

Post edited at 13:15
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 Jp 20 Nov 2020
In reply to Yanchik:

Quite, both are such great words! Not so long ago I looked into ancient Greek texts for allusions to climbing rocks with pegs and ropes but found precious little. We know that they were into rope climbing. I'm going to have to return to it, as Arrian's reference is tantalising... maybe an 'archaeological' climbing trip is in order!

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 Lankyman 20 Nov 2020
In reply to Jp:

> Sorry for the late reply, it's been a busy week. It looks like I need to shout over the incessant din of UKC squabblers, I hope you can hear me!   

> Alas, to my knowledge (and I'm no expert) there isn't any physical evidence. It's probably all Macedonian propaganda, a story that became more exaggerated with each telling. But that's not to say it's meaningless. The major accounts we have of the siege date from the first and second century AD. One of the sources I mentioned who described what you and I recognise as mixed or ice climbing is Arrian, a Greek historian who wrote The Anabasis of Alexander around 130 AD. Though he wrote it 500-odd years after Alexander's drunken rampage across Asia, it at least shows that climbing frozen rock and ice with metal pegs and rope was within the ancient Greek imagination. Perhaps it was within their experience too...


Thanks for this. It would be very surprising given the mountainous nature of Greece/Macedonia, that they couldn't climb snow and rocks. They managed to cross great expanses of desert without any direct experiences of desert in their own country. I think it's unwise to underestimate the resourcefulness of ancient peoples - they were far more practical than most modern western peoples. Having such a forceful leader as Alexander would have helped too (even if he did have a booze problem!). I always fancied a trip to Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush after reading accounts like those of Wilfred Thesiger and Nick Danziger. Some of my older colleagues from my first job also did the classic hippy trail thing through that part of the world and on into India. Nowadays, you'd probably want an armed escort?

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 Mike Rhodes 20 Nov 2020
In reply to Big Bruva:

That is quite interesting and seems to go against everything I have been told in the past. Rather not try it out though!

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