The School For Mountain Leadership

The School For Mountain Leadership

1. Military Mountain Orientation

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Our guiding section:
The Mountain Guide
Activity   Military

Because of the provisions of the South African Foreign Military Assistance Act, these courses are only available to the South african National Defence Force or other organs of the South African state unless specific permission is obtained to present these courses to the the defence forces of other states.

1. Outline
The SANDF currently has no single, integrated set of courses for Mountain Warfare aimed at the soldier on the ground. While the Special Forces do receive some training, other units who also operate in mountainous environments are excluded from this training and thus have no awareness of what mountains entail or capability to function, travel and fight in the mountains.

This is the first in a series of 3 courses aimed at developing skill in the mountains with a view to enhancing survivability and combat-effectiveness in mountainous areas. The courses are:

  • Mountain Orientation
  • Assault Climber
  • Military Mountain Leader

    With proper training and appropriate equipment it is possible for soldiers not only to survive but also to retain combat efficiency in conditions that are well outside the normal range of comfort. Knowing what techniques to apply and what equipment to use under specific circumstances is a fundamental part of this and is the foundation upon which experience is built. If the SANDF ends up operating in mountainous environments without proper training the casualty count will be a great deal higher than necessary both because of environmental injuries as well as the inability of soldiers to function properly and the associated loss of combat efficiency.

    2. Course topics

  • The mountain environment
  • Minimal impact principles
  • Sourcing clean water
  • Mountain weather
  • Human thermoregulation and managing body temperature
  • Use, care and storage of cold-weather clothing
  • Use, care and storage of basic mountaineering and climbing equipment
  • Rope management, rope care and knots
  • Load-bearing equipment and packing techniques
  • Overnight equipment and techniques
  • Creature hazards
  • Mountain navigation and route-finding
  • Steep ground movement and safety
  • River crossing techniques
  • Top-roped rock climbing and belaying
  • Simple abseil setups
  • Basic abseiling & improvised abseil techniques
  • Improvised harnesses
  • Using rope bridges
  • Using fixed-rope systems
  • Improvised First Aid and improvised rescue
  • Accident and emergency procedures
  • Patrolling considerations
  • Weapons considerations
  • Communications considerations
  • Logistics considerations

    3. Duration:
    This course lasts 3 weeks of long days and occasional nights.

    4. Numbers
    This course would be run for a maximum of 30 students at a time.

    5. Equipment
    Equipment can be rented if necessary on a per-group basis.

    6. Location and timing
    This course can take place at a military training ground in a mountainous area of at least 2000ha. The best area for this is the Eastern Cape or any other mountainous area. The best time of year for this course is towards the end of the rainy season, normally March, April. Desired terrain and conditions are:
  • Hilly or mountainous area of no less than 2,000 ha
  • River approx thigh deep between 8 and 20m wide with no hazards for 100m
  • Steep ground, intermittent rock and grass, just steep enough to require occasional use of hands to progress upwards.
  • Narrow kloof or gully approx 10-30m deep and 5-30m wide with good anchors either side.
  • Small cliff (10-30m) with suitable anchors at the top and a return route from bottom to top. Preferred if this cliff is climbable.
  • Vegetation that can be broken or cut (eg: Wattle) to improvise stretchers, splinting, etc.

    7. Costs per course
    Excluding equipment rental R 75,000 per group of 30,
    Rental of all required if not using SANDF equipment: R 25,000

  • Type   Full time Course
    Cost  P.O.A

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