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Winter Survival 2020: Austrians Best in the Rocks

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Winter Survival 2020: Austrians Best in the Rocks

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30/01/2020 • The Winter Survival competition tests soldiers’ abilities of surviving the harsh conditions of the Hruby Jesenik Mountains in winter with snow and frost completed with a number of challenging activities from special physical training and military skills. The organiser of that well-known military event is the University of Defence.

Winter Survival is the synonym of extreme, stamina, mountain warfare, and also friendship and desire to achieve the finish together. The military competition across the Hruby Jesenik Mountains surprises the teams every year. It is never the same.

Three crucial days of the military Winter Survival 2020 competition are over for the teams. The most physically and mentally challenging activity of the final phase in the three-day stage was the “Up and Down the Rock Face” one. The teams were first to climb the “Rolanduv Kamen” rock using secured ropes while each team member takes a different route. The routes differ in difficulty. When reached the top, each team member rappelled down using one of three prepared ropes. With the ski shoes on, the soldiers had hard time with slippery iced rock. Time limit to accomplish the activity was 15 minutes and the best there was the Austrian team.

The length of the ideal route to cover on movement on Wednesday, equally to the previous day, measured approximately 25 kilometres unless teams got lost and walked an extra portion of kilometres. “We wanted to make the move easier and deviated a bit. In fact, it meant few kilometres more,” confessed first lieutenant Miroslav Hovorka for the Air Force team.

The Air Force have sent two teams to this year’s issue of Winter Survival. Along with the mixed team for the 22 helicopter Air Base Sedlec and the 24 transport Air Base Kbely, it is a team for 21 tactical Air Base Čáslav participating in the competition for the very first time. “I have persuaded my colleagues to form a team. We have no ambitions of good ranking, all we want is to get to the finish,” said the base’s physical training officer sergeant first class Karel Rozsypal, a multiple participant in the competition for Military Police.

While freezing wind and heavy snowfall made teams’ moving more difficult on Tuesday, Wednesday morning in the mountains offered sunny weather and almost no wind. In addition to the rock climbing near Karlova Studanka spa, the activities for the teams included a time trial in the valley of Bila Opava and “First Aid in the Field”. The latter one eventually showed out to be the most physically demanding. At first, noon brought a radical weather change – fog and strong wind appeared – and at second, the teams, after administered medical treatment to the “injured” person, had to evacuate the person up a steep slope in deep snow to the parking lot near Ovcarna pod Pradedem.

The provisional results of the Winter Survival 2020 championship keep holding the teams for the Logistics Agency, 26 Mountain Infantry Battalion and for the 73rd tank battalion among the favourites. Due to injury of a team member the team for the Training Command – Military Academy retired from the competition. The relay race will close the entire competition on Thursday.


Author: Pavel Pazdera, WS 2020 press officer, photo: The Dung Nguyen and Renáta Foltysová

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