A group from 105 Regiment RA (V) took part in Ex KANANASKIS FINN – a ten day exercise in the Canadian Rockies.
The aim was to deliver a basic mountaineering package and a foundation level open canoeing course to individuals who had never taken part in these before. The training was designed to be physically and mentally demanding and would test the soldiers as individuals and as part of a team. In each discipline would be a two-night expedition.
On day one of the mountaineering we completed our first peak. Ha Ling Peak is 2407m above sea level. Starting at 1600m, it took us approx 3.5 hours to reach the summit and the steep climb tested even the fittest of the group. The view from the top was amazing and due to the steep incline it took a further 2.5 hours to return to the bottom.
Day two we completed Grotto Creek and Cougar trails, a different type of challenge. Following a lesser gradient, the going on the creek’s loose rubble took its toll on tired muscles from the previous day. It suited the navigation and map reading training and gave everyone a chance to lead legs of the journey. Each ‘leader’ had to get the group from a to b by relating the map to the ground and working out journey times by speed/distance calculation.
The next day we headed into the mountains for two nights carrying all our supplies on our backs. Our route from Mount Shark to Lake Magog via the Assiniboine Pass (summit 2180m) had us weave in and out of the Alberta/British Columbia provincial lines. The weather and terrain put us under a lot of pressure and the trek on the first day (28km) took us in the region of 7.5 hours to complete. On arriving at the Lake, the snowstorms of the previous nights had left the campsite snowed in so we set up camp at a very icy Lake Magog. A cold night was had by all!
Our route back broke the first day’s trek into two and we camped at Bryant Creek before heading back in on the final morning. Bryant is core Grizzly area but luckily we never encountered any!
On completing this expedition the atmosphere and morale of the group was outstanding. It was quite an achievement covering 54km in two and half days carrying a lot of weight in the ever warming climate!
On the canoeing course we started on Goat Lake and Lake Louise. The scenery was amazing and although some of the drills were initially difficult, we progressed well. A different challenge to the mountaineering, the canoeing showed it was also to be physically demanding.
On our overnight expedition on this course we went to the huge Lake Minnewanka. We entered into the spirit of open boating and took fresh rations with us. On day one, in a similar manner to the mountaineering, we did the largest journey and paddled the length of the lake (20km) to our wild camp-site at The Narrows. The wind, for the majority, wasn’t in our favour and it took us the best part of the day to reach our destination. On arriving we set up camp and began a team effort to produce a beautiful steak dinner which was great reward for the days work. The next day we began to back track down the Lake using the opportunity to swap positions in the tandem boats and try out different strokes. We arrived at Aylmer Canyon and set up camp for the second night. On the last day we paddled back in and recovered back to camp. I think after the mountaineering some of us had been under the impression that the canoeing would be easy. This proved not to be the case as it was equally as challenging, just in a different way! When faced with some situations e.g. the entire group capsizing, team work and leadership skills were well and truly tested.
Ex KANANASKIS FINN was a resounding success. We delivered challenging and real life leadership training to our people who will certainly be better soldiers and leaders for it. I would like to thank all those who helped put this together financially, not least the Ulysses Trust, for without their help many young soldiers could never experience what they have over the last 10 days.
Thank you! Captain Luce