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    Corporal Jeremy Hillson required a lot of courage and belief that his equipment would hold to make his way up the ice face. Knowing how to climb this type of terrain will allow him and his fellow soldiers to access even the most unforgiving areas. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    The Command Post tent kept them warm as 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR) Acting Commanding Officer Major Tim Kenney and his Acting Regimental Sergeant Major Master Warrant Officer Trevor Lavallee planned their next course of action. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    With its numerous hills, wooded areas and snow, Calabogie was the perfect area for winter training. For two weeks, starting in mid-January, the soldiers of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR) set up a Winter Complex Terrain Training School to test their mettle. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    With nearly a decade of experience ice climbing, Sergeant Kyle Meeks was the perfect instructor. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    The soldiers took the time out of their busy training schedule to show off their coolest pieces of equipment to the kids of St. Joseph's Separate School. Private Kyle Shantz is happy to share some of his knowledge. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)



Winter Complex Terrain training in Calabogie

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday January 25, 2018

For two weeks, about 300 members of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR) set up camp in Calabogie and trained for different scenarios, preparing themselves to survive in winter conditions.

To aid in this objective, a Complex Terrain School was established where they exercised skills from basic winter survival and snowmobile qualification to skiing down the Calabogie Peaks and climbing back up them. Through land use agreements, the unit organized some high angle shooting, which is a speciality skill for snipers.

On Jan. 18 and 19, 3 RCR were also joined for two days by members of 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Royal Canadian Regiment (1 RCR and 2 RCR).

This type of training will particularly come in handy during missions in the Arctic or in other similar regions.

“The Arctic is key not only to the Government of Canada but really for the world,” said 3 RCR Acting Commanding Officer Major (Maj) Tim Kenney. “As the climate adjusts, the Northwest Passage will become more traversable and we will see more things going on in the Arctic.”

In fact, 3 RCR’s Mike Company will soon be deploying to the high Arctic on an exercise that will stimulate response to a major air disaster. Though Calabogie is typically less frigid, the skills they practiced will assist them in completing the training mission.

“This is all part of that progressive training,” said Maj Kenney. “It contributes to the readiness of the Canadian Forces being able to respond to any requirement that the Government of Canada might have.”

Calabogie has such a wide variety of terrain that it made it an ideal location to train. It allowed personnel to practice some of their less common abilities while pushing the battalion’s organizational limits.

“When we transport ourselves out of (Garrison Petawawa) it really does test not only our ability to plan but also to sustain ourselves on exercise and on operations,” said Maj Kenney.

One of the most daring feats was ice climbing, where these soldiers scaled a vertical column of ice. In Calabogie, ice walls are formed through the freezing of water sources into near- perfect walls.

It isn’t an easy task.

“For a lot of guys, they have fears of heights and just trusting equipment that they’ve never used before,” said Sergeant Kyle Meeks, who has been ice climbing for work and pleasure for nearly a decade.

“This helps the guys get over their fears in some uncomfortable situations,” he added. “So it’s going to build their confidence which is going to lead to other things in their military career.”

Ice climbing won’t be a daily requirement overseas, but it is an essential part of training, allowing the infantry to access difficult terrain.

“’You never know what will come up as far as the terrain you have to conquer,” said Corporal Jeremy Hillson. “Being able to climb an ice face is just as important as being able to walk long distances with a rucksack.”

“It takes ... guts to put yourself on an ice face and trust in the ice axe,” he admits. “But once you start to trust your equipment and the guys below you then it’s just another day at work.”

Though it was a perfect opportunity to refine winter survival and warfare skills, it also gave members the chance to interact with the local community. Forty-three students from St. Joseph’s Separate School enjoyed a special treat with a hands-on display of equipment and vehicles.

“This is fantastic,” said Principal Heidi Fraser. “It is a great experience. The kids are having a great time. They are having to see all of the key pieces of equipment that the military use, which is not something that, up here in this part of the county, we see on a daily basis.”

She couldn’t be more pleased by the interaction between the youngsters and the soldiers.

“I think it is important that we are all aware that (the military) has a role to play as that might be an occupation they might be interested in,” said Fraser.