CLB-6, 2/5 Marines conduct gorge crossing (Part Three of Six)

6 Oct 2014 | Lance Cpl. Preston McDonald II Marine Expeditionary Force

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, completed the second of four stations in the basic mobility phase of the Summer Mountain Exercise, Oct. 6, 2014.
The Marines spent three days at the Leavitt Training Area, where they successfully completed classes and hands-on applications in rock climbing and gorge crossing.

“The first day, we conducted rock climbing on a mountain face about 40-feet high, both day and night,” said Sgt. John Tracey, a motor transportation noncommissioned officer and squad leader with Training Company 4, CLB-6.

The Marines placed their safety in each other’s hands during the climbs, as each Marine in line had the responsibility of making sure the rope attached to the climber ahead of them was secure, standing at the end of the rope, at the bottom of the mountain face, a non-climbing Marine holds tension on the rope. In the event that a climber falls, this Marine could use their body weight to pull down on the rope and stop the climber’s fall.

“The Marines definitely learned to rely on one another,” said Sgt. Douglas Smith, a mountain warfare instructor at the MCMWTC and a Syracuse, New York native. “Whether you’re in combat or just training, you have to be able to look to your left and right and know that they have your back, as well as be able to support them if they need it.”

The second day, the Marines turned their attention to an even more adrenaline-inducing task, barreling down a wire at approximately 10 mph, suspended over a 40-ft. drop.

“We all did the gorge crossing on a zip-line across a gap that was about 275 feet across,” said Tracey. “It was one of the most exciting things I’ve done.”

The only thing keeping the Marines connected to the zip-line was a a rope harness, called a Swiss Seat, which they tied by themselves after short classes. The Marines were inspected by the instructors to make sure the harness was correctly fashioned, then climbed a mountain face to where the zip-line was attached. The Marines were then secured to the cable with a hardened steel carabineer before launching themselves down across the chasm.

“There’s always the chance that Marines are deployed to an area with mountainous terrain,” said Smith. “These skills would be vital to mission success.”

On the last day at LTA, the Marines received more classes in mountain survival, before they packed up and began the three-hour hike to the next training station.
LTA is the second of four training sites the Marines visit in the basic mobility phase. The Marines will now train at Landing Zone Quail, where they will learn to build shelters. The Marines will also learn additional techniques to survive off of the mountain’s natural resources.

This is the third installment of a six-part series on the experiences of CLB-6 at the Mountain Warfare Training Center.