15 awesome photos of what mountain warfare looks like

Fighting at sea level is tough, but it doesn’t get any easier thousands of feet up a mountain. The military prepares for fights at altitude by training extensively in challenging weather and terrain. Here are 16 photos that show what it’s like.

1. Narrow passes of ice-covered rocks

Mountain warfare soldiers trudge up a narrow mountain pass

Photo: US Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Sarah Mattison

2. Getting down the mountain is faster – but more dangerous – than climbing up.

Mountain warfare Marines rappel down a rockface

Photo: US Marine Corp Cpl. Drew Tech

3. Helicopters can make a big difference when they’re available.

Mountain warfare Marines climb into a waiting national guard chinook

Photo: US Army National Guard Master Sgt. Paul Wade

4. For getting across the soft snow, skis and snowshoes are handy.

Mountain warfare Marines cross country ski through the snow

Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Suzanna Lapi

5. Sleds can carry extra gear that won’t fit in a pack.

Mountain warfare Marines pull sleds while cross country skiing

Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Sergio Jimenez

6. The Marines train on both riding horses and mules, and use them as pack animals.

Mountain warfare Marine exercises his horse

Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

READ MORE: Military working bees and other animals you didn’t know serve in the US Military >

7. When the snow is melted, standard boots can get the job done.

Mountain warfare Marine crosses a stream

Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos

8. But again, a controlled fall is the easiest way to travel.

Mountain warfare Cpl. Jose Pacheco, a soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, practices rappelling techniques during the basic-mobility portion of Mountain Exercise 08-11 at the Marine Corps’ Mountain Warfare Training Center in Northern California’s Toiyabe National Forest, Sept. 22. Pacheco and his fellow soldiers will use the technical skills they learn during basic-mobility to gain a tactical advantage over their adversaries during the subsequent force-on-force exercise.

Emphasis on “controlled.” Photo: US Army 1st Sgt Brandon McGuire

9. Traveling across the rock face takes skill and trust in the equipment.

Mountain Warfare U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Nick Duncan watches his footing as he climbs a mountain during pre-deployment training with British Royal Marines at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., on Oct. 17, 2007. DoD photo by Sgt. Ben J. Flores, U.S. Marine Corps.

Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Ben J. Flores

10. Getting around the mountain isn’t enough. Troops have to fight up there.

Mountain warfare soldiers practice marksmanship in cold weather on a snow covered slope while wearing skis

Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Nicholas Lienemann

11. The terrain makes it hard for troops to maneuver on well-placed snipers, so they can be especially effective.

Mountain warfare Snipers in the snow firing downslope.

Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Sarah Anderson

12. Working as a team is key in the mountains.

One soldier helps another place equipment during his ruck while climbing a cliffside. Mountain warfare

Photo: US Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Sarah Mattison

13. The “Red Hats,” trainers who specialize in mountain operations, know to move as a group.

Mountain warfare instructors climb a cliff face MWIs (aka Red Hats) conducting advanced winter mobility training in the Eastern Sierras (Evolution Loop) March 2005

Photo: Wikipedia

14. Even on the ropes, it’s best if the team can stay together.

Mountain warfare Marines slide down ropes in mountain training

Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Alex P. Creasia

15. You get cool points for taking photos on top of a mountain, but you would get more if you removed the blank adapters first.

Mountain warfare soldiers pose on a peak

Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. David J. Loeffler

NOW: 21 photos showing the life of an elite US Army Ranger >

OR: Project goes into the woods with ‘off the grid’ veterans >

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