Hi, my name is Cadet Master Warrant Officer Ethan Frizzell, I’m entering my 6th year of cadets, my 5th year at 21 RHFC ACC. This past summer I attended the Leadership & Challenge course at Rocky Mountain Cadet Training Center near Cochrane, Alberta. This course is one of the most challenging and advanced courses available to army cadets and is considered to be the top expedition course available to Army Cadets currently. The course offers seven different disciplines; Horseback Riding, First Aid, Rock Climbing, Glacier Climbing, Mountain Biking, Whitewater Sports, and Alpine Trekking. These seven disciplines are split among six weeks, Horseback Riding and First Aid each taking half a week and the other five taking a week each.
The first cycle I did was Horseback Riding and First Aid, the week was split into two parts, the first half consisting of becoming Standard First Qualified and CPR Level C. We also did Wilderness Survival scenarios. The second half of the week consisted of learning the general knowledge of Horseback Riding and did two days of horseback riding and one overnight stay at the ranch. This was one of the easier cycles, considering it is by far the least physically strenuous, however, it is one of the more fun cycles.
The second cycle was Rock Climbing, which consisted of technical outdoor walls and mountainside cliffs. We learned the safety precautions and how to set up our harnesses and equipment. Alongside safety techniques and other various information, we also learned how to belay other climbers and how to Rappel off rock faces. We learned to climb standard walls and to do multi-pitch climbing, which consisted of climbing a large section of Rock with only one rope. overall this cycle was my most enjoyed cycle due to its challenge that it offered, and the reward that you got from doing extremely technical climbing.
The third cycle of the course consisted of Glacier Climbing within the limits of Banff National Park in Yoho National Park. The training we received consisted of weight management, program planning, route card planning, navigation, and technical skills used to climb a glacier. over the course of 4 days I ascended a glacier, a minor mountain named “Mt. Onion”, and a large mountain named “Mt. Olive.” on this cycle and took a lot of planning because we had to pack all of our food in and all of our garbage out of the mountain, and we also had to plan all of our own routes including hazards and other characteristics. Overall, this cycle was the most rewarding cycle of all the disciplines. Possibly my favorite part of this summer is the fact that I can now say that I have climbed a mountain.
The fourth cycle of the summer consisted of mountain biking through trails around the training center, professionally maintained mountain bike trails at the Canmore Nordic Center, and biking up Mt. Baldy in Banff National Park. over the course of this cycle, I learned how to ride on technical trails, perform tire lifts and jumps, how to safely bike up and downhill, and how to perform basic maintenance on a mountain bike. This cycle was by far the most physically and technically demanding cycle throughout the entire summer. However I, along with most other cadets, believe that is the most fun cycle at Leadership & Challenge.
The fifth cycle was Whitewater Sports where we learned to Whitewater Kayak or Canoe on the Red Deer River. This cycle split the platoon in half, half the platoon learning how to whitewater kayak and the other half learning how to whitewater canoe, I was chosen to be one of the kayakers and learned over the course of 5 days how to whitewater kayak. The skills we learned consisted of river reading abilities, which allowed us to pick the best route down the river, safety skills, and technical skills in order to navigate down the rapids safely. while this cycle is not to physically strenuous, it is very mentally strenuous as the river takes you where it wants to go and not where you want to go, this is why the technical skills are important because you must learn how to navigate down the river and to use the current to your advantage in order to get down the rapid and into calm points in the water. In general, I enjoyed this cycle, and it offered the most challenge out of the cycle, considering I’ve never actually been kayaking before.
The last cycle of the summer consisted of Alpine Trekking, where we learned how to create more in-depth route cards, that accounted for elevation change, time, weather conditions, and bearings. in addition to the root cards we also learned how to lead a team of Alpine Trekkers along a route, this involved being aware of wildlife in the area, being aware of your team’s condition, and navigating the team to their destination. During the cycle, I personally went deep into the mountains through a Mountain Pass called “Mystic Pass” and together with my group, planned an in-depth route card for the journey. the challenge in this cycle lies not in the physical requirements but the planning and the leadership required to lead your group.
Overall, the course was the most challenging thing I’ve done in my cadet career to date, however it was by far, the most rewarding. The skills I’ve learned will help me become a better cadet and the friends I’ve made will stay with me forever. I’m extremely glad I had the opportunity to attend this course and learn everything I possibly can from it. Next year I plan to apply to be a staff cadet at this Cadet Summer Training Center, as well as several other training centers throughout the country. I hope any cadet reading this has the opportunity to attend this course because it is an adventure of a lifetime.