BLT 1/1 Marines scale Assault Climbers Course

7 Feb 2003 | Sgt. Mark P. Ledesma

Raw hands are clear evidence of the intense training Marines went through to complete the five-week Assault Climbers Course, one of the most physically challenging courses the Marine Corps has to offer.Only nine of the 20 Battalion Landing Team 1/1, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines who began the course remained to finish.The course entails a variety of climbing and rappelling, rescuing and rope work techniques the Marines must master, according to Sgt. Dylan A. Bender, assault climber instructor, Special Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force."The first two weeks mainly covers rope handling techniques," said Bender. "They become rappel experts, which certify the students to rappel Marines off towers. The Marines also learn how to build their own anchors out of anything available to them."After the first two weeks, the students learn rescue techniques, which are very important for getting casualties off cliffs, said Bender."That's really one of their biggest missions we stress upon," said Bender.During the same training evolution, the Marines also complete a climbing-package phase. The students are taken to Joshua Tree National Park near Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms. There the Marines learned how to perform top-roping and lead-climbing techniques."The students have to give their 100 percent and can't miss any part of the course," said Bender. "It's their lives on the line and the classes are no joke. Here, if you fall you can die. There's a lot of safety involved."During the last week of the course, the students return to Camp Pendleton to perform cliff assaults at Red Beach. The last week also includes urban terrain training, where they learn how to ascend and descend from buildings at Range 131, according to Bender."It's a very challenging course because we are packing around three months, worth of knowledge into five weeks," said Bender.According to SOTG instructors, the graduates of the course will bring invaluable knowledge to their units, making the unit more versatile in accomplishing missions."Learning the rescue techniques at steep terrains and moving casualties around will be very important to me because I will be part of a TRAP (Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel) platoon," said 20-year-old Cpl. Donald R. Mcclester, BLT 1/1, 13th MEU.The students did well overall, according to Sgt. Mark W. Tartenaar, assault climber instructor, SOTG, I MEF."They have come a long way," said Tartenaar. "The students put a lot of hard work into the course."
13th Marine Expeditionary Unit