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Sgt. Joshua Jelinek, the lead instructor for the Assault Climbers Course, observes the one-rope bridge to ensure it has been properly assembled and is safe for use at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 12, 2016. These bridges allow Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit to conduct cliff assaults, and move supplies and themselves safely across a river or cavern.

Photo by Luke Hoogendam

The climb to the top: The Assault Climbers Course

12 Apr 2016 | Lance Cpl. Luke Hoogendam II Marine Expeditionary Force

Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit expanded their knowledge of traversing mountainous terrain by learning to tie knots, rappel and build rope bridges during the Assault Climber Course at Camp Lejeune, April 12, 2016.
The Assault Climbers Course, taught by instructors with the Expeditionary Operations Training Group, consists of three phases. The first phase is indoctrination, or the Mountain Endurance exam, which tests a Marine’s physical fitness by conducting a five mile run with a 40-pound pack, a minimum of eleven pull-ups, and a rope and tower climb.
“The strength that you need to complete this course is not just physical strength, it’s also mental,” Staff Sgt. Robert Jordan a security chief with 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment said. “In stressful situations you have to still be able to tie the knot because you could have someone’s life at the end of that rope.”
After being selected to continue to phase two of the course, students learned about 18 different knots and seven different rope systems. They used the different knots to rappel, secure supplies and attach themselves to supports when rock climbing.
One of the exercises that the course taught the students was how to make a suspension bridge only using rope. These bridges allow Marines to conduct cliff assaults, and move supplies and themselves safely across a river or cavern.
“Learning the skills in the Assault Climbers course gives the 22nd MEU the capability of a cliff assault as well as the ability to scale mountainous terrain while out on deployment.” Sgt. Joshua Jelinek the lead instructor for the course said. “This training adds a tool to the toolbox that the 22nd MEU can use to accomplish the mission.”
During phase three of the course, Marines will travel to Camp Dawson, West Virginia to apply what they learned by free climbing on cliff faces.
“A large part of this course is finding that inner courage, especially on the climbing phase,” Jelinek said. “The Marines learn to push forward and achieve their goals whether that is climbing up a rock face, or finding the courage to face a fear.”

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