Mountain climbing is not a sport for everyone, but some seem to have it in their blood.
“I’ve always felt comfortable at the top of a mountain – and I go up lots,” said Whitehorse’s Cole Hauer.
The 16-year-old Whitehorse Army Cadet Warrant Officer has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Thanks to years of dedication to the Cadets and his recent passing of the National Star Certification Exam, the highest qualification the Cadets program offers, Hauer is one of just 16 cadets from throughout Canada to be offered a spot on the core’s International Army Cadet Expedition. Perhaps the most ambitious of any Cadets expedition to date, Hauer will take a three-week trip to the Mt. Everest Base Camp in October.
“I’m not really a mountain climber – this is a trip to base camp,” said Hauer. “That’s about halfway up.
“The base camp is right below the danger zone where people need assisted oxygen to survive at those altitudes without rigorous training, which I haven’t been doing for the last 20 years obviously.
“There’s no ropes or rock climbing involved in this.”
There are two Everest base camps, one in Tibet on the north side of the mountain and one in Nepal on the southern slope. The Cadets expedition will be to the Nepal base camp at 5,208 metres in altitude. Climbers will often spend several days at the base camps to acclimatize before starting an ascent to the summit.
“I really was completely astounded,” said Hauer. “Right now I’m extremely excited to go. It caught me off guard at the time. I thought, ‘Wow, a month off school for Everest.’”
Hauer originally had his sights set on the Cadets’ Domestic National Expedition, a kayak trip around Newfoundland, but inadvertently applied for the international trip when his commanding officer, Capt. Russ LaChapelle, switched the paperwork on him.
“When the opportunity for the Everest expedition came around, I kind of told him he had to redo paperwork for the domestic (expedition) and we put him in (for the Everest expedition) without telling him,” said LaChapelle. “I’ve known him for about four years, since he joined the program. He’s a really good kid, very active and is pretty much there for everything the core does.”
“I thought I had just signed the domestic expedition (application), but my commanding officer switched out the papers and had me sign the international expedition papers,” said Hauer. “It surprised me, but it was a really good thing obviously. I wasn’t complaining when I found out.”
To help prepare for October’s expedition, Hauer, a Grade 11 student at Porter Creek Secondary, is planning a few climbing trips with friends, including one to Canada’s tallest mountain, Mt. Logan.
“I plan on going to Mt. Logan before I go to Everest with a couple friends – some from Cadets, some from outside cadets,” said Hauer. “I’m not going to climb the whole mountain; I’ll just go up as high as I can without killing myself and see how far I make it.
“The support of my friends and family is a big part of it,” he added. “I run and bike to school (in Porter Creek) and I live in Granger. And I do it with friends, not just by myself because I don’t think I’d have the willpower to go run by myself.
“With my friends there I go the entire distance.”
Originally from Edmonton, Hauer moved to Whitehorse from Yellowknife six years ago and soon after joined the Cadets. Currently he is the second highest-ranking cadet at the Whitehorse branch of the core.
“I’m getting a lot of opportunities with Cadets, which is exactly what I wanted,” said Hauer. “Not just myself, anybody has these opportunities as long as they put time and effort into it.
“The advantages you get from Cadets can take you through your entire life – if you chose to take them is up to yourself. Cadets is an extremely good thing; I don’t find any bad aspects out of it.”
In addition, Hauer has also been selected for the Cadet Leadership and Challenge course at Rocky Mountain National Cadet Summer Training Centre this summer, a six-week camp involving technical rock climbing, glacier expedition, mountain biking, orienteering, canoeing and kayaking, and an extended alpine trek in the Rocky Mountains.
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