A steep rock face is a terrain feature that can be avoided most of the time through prior planning and good route selection. Rock climbing can be time consuming, especially for a larger unit with a heavy combat load. It can leave the climbing party totally exposed to weather, terrain hazards, and the enemy for the length of the climb.
Sometimes steep rock cannot be avoided. Climbing relatively short sections of steep rock (one or two pitches) may prove quicker and safer than using alternate routes. A steep rock route would normally be considered an unlikely avenue of approach and, therefore, might be weakly defended or not defended at all.
All personnel in a unit preparing for deployment to mountainous terrain should be trained in the basics of climbing. Forward observers, reconnaissance personnel, and security teams are a few examples of small units who may require rock climbing skills to gain their vantage points in mountainous terrain. Select personnel demonstrating the highest degree of skill and experience should be trained in roped climbing techniques. These personnel will have the job of picking and "fixing" the route for the rest of the unit.
Rock climbing has evolved into a specialized "sport" with a wide range of varying techniques and styles. This chapter focuses on the basics most applicable to military operations.
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