U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY — With the proper shoes, tools, and a little bit of chalk, some U.S. Air Force Academy cadets are learning leadership skills in a different way.
“Not many people know this wall is down here at the academy. So, just getting this opportunity is very cool,” said Cadet 3rd Class Staci Davis.
USAFA’s Mountaineering Club is made up of nearly a hundred cadet members, and experience isn’t required.
“You can come into this club with no experience and no equipment at all, and we’ll get you to a point where you can go an enjoy the outdoors. And we have equipment that we can provide to people for trips and things like that. And we’ll teach you from square one, all the way up to where you’re proficient in the mountains on your own,” said Cadet 2nd Class James Lambert.
And the skills they learn help mold cadets into future Air Force leaders.
“As I’ve seen people grow through the club, myself included, I’ve noticed that people can gain more confidence especially. And it’s really great to see people who are initially nervous on these types of climbs, and then they get to the point where you can see that they are getting more and more excited, and they don’t show this kind of fear for what we’ve been doing,” said Lambert.
“A lot of times, they might doubt themselves as a climber, but then they get up on the rock and you encourage them and you challenge them, and they’re able to reach new heights,” said Cadet 1st Class Benjamin Roberts.
Like Davis, who joined the club in august.
“I went on a hiking trip and climbed my first fourtneer, and I would have never done that without this club,” said Davis.
And sometimes their skills make the difference in real life missions.
“We had one two years ago on Torreys Peak, which is a 14,000 foot peak in the front range. And in that mountain we were able to assist two climbers down during blizzard conditions. And also, we were able to search for a cadet candidate who went missing in Rocky Mountain National Park last year as well,” said Roberts.
“Whenever we get the opportunity to work with those types of teams, then we get to have a serious impact out in the community especially,” said Lambert.