One of the top mountaineers of all time has passed on his knowledge to Royal Marines training in the South West.
Alan Hinkes, the first Briton to have climbed the 14 highest mountains in the world was special guest on the Royal Marines Mountain Leaders 2 Course, based at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines at Lympstone, near Exeter.
As a member of an exclusive club of only 12 people alive to have achieved this feat, he shared his experiences with the students and provided insights into the challenges facing mountaineers when operating at altitude. His detailed presentation proved most inspirational.
As a former Royal Marine Commando, who was awarded his Green Beret following a stint within the Royal Marines Reserves, Alan believes Commando Training ensures Royal Marines are best placed to face the demanding challenges of these harsh environments.
Alan said: “It takes a certain type of individual to operate within both a mountain and cold weather environment. Undoubtedly, Commando training and qualified mountain leaders ensure Royal Marines can meet these high demands.”
The students are now conducting the initial vertical assault phase of the course in West Penwith, Cornwall. The course is a high-octane course designed to produce leaders providing a core of mountain and cold weather warfare specialists for UK Defence.
At eight months long the course is not for the faint hearted and considered by many to be the most demanding specialist course within the UK armed forces. After the initial phase students are qualified to climb at day and night and the course moves to Wales and Scotland to learn how to conduct operations tactically and safely in demanding environments.
Back at Lympstone the course conducts surveillance and reconnaissance exercises preparing students for future roles either within the reconnaissance squadron – 30 Commando Royal Marines or in 40, or 42 Commando Royal Marines units.
Following Scotland the course deploys to Northern Norway to conduct cold weather warfare training. Once students learn skiing and other ways of traversing cold weather countryside, the course moves to high tempo patrol exercises in the Arctic, often in white out conditions and daily temperatures below -30 degrees.
Following a period of snow and ice climbing, the course culminates in a final test exercise including 150Km. Many of the skills can also be used in an urban environment.
The trained mountain leader provides the Royal Marines and wider MOD with a capability to operate within the most demanding of cold weather warfare environments. Those operationally experienced have served on NATO’s northern flank and more recently during mountain operations in Northern Iraq and Eastern Afghanistan.