Airmen experience teamwork in the Alps

by Senior Airman Gregory Plett
86th Medical Operations Squadron

Looking for something a little different to do with your weekend? Want to get out and see a side of Europe that’s a little off the beaten path and at the same time have some fun while getting to know your co-workers outside the shop?  

Last month, 10 members from the 86th Medical Operations Squadron, along with a few friends and family, did just that.

Four hours southeast of the KMC, nestled in the Allgäu range of the Alps, lays a mountain known as Grünten.  With a peak altitude of about 5,850 feet above sea level, it makes for a challenging beginner climb. 

The daring crew assembled at the foot of the mountain in the town of Burgberg. The group ranged from a Himalayan-experienced outdoorsman to a novice hiker; many different fitness and experience levels were represented and all were eager to begin their ascent. 

In a display of teamwork and leadership, the seasoned mountaineers helped the novice hikers decide what to bring, how to pack, what to wear and how to be safe.
A trip like this is always more enjoyable and more comfortable when you’re adequately prepared. Do I need a rain coat? How cold will it be at night? Should I wear boots or running shoes? How much water should I bring? These were a few of the questions the climbers helped each other answer before the trip began. 

Once on the mountain, other opportunities to display esprit de corps presented. Climbing a mountain is hard work, but having a good wingman makes it a little easier. Whether it was finding the best trail, taking some weight from a tired buddy’s pack or just a well-timed encouraging word, everyone helped each other reach the top as a cohesive and stronger team.

In addition to the great team building this presented, these 10 medics got in some world-class fitness training.  Carrying a pack up steep, rocky, often slippery trails is a great workout and a welcome break from the usual running, pushups and crunches they have grown accustomed to. At a time when military is stressing physical fitness, every little bit of exercise helps, so why not have some fun while getting it done?

If the teamwork, esprit de corps, leadership and fitness benefits weren’t enough, the trip was also just plain fun.  Excursions like this are a great way to get away from the office, get some fresh air, spend some time together and take some pictures to show off to your friends and family about the beauty of Europe.  
In the end, they learned a lot about each other and what it really means to be a wingman.