I was waiting for the BAM (Brevet d’Alpiniste Militaire – Military Mountaineer Certificate) because everyone said that it’s going to be as good as the BSM was. Once I saw the list of the instructors for the training I was sure that it’s not going to be the same at all like the skiing was but we didn’t have a choice.
BAM is a must to do training for someone who is in a combat unit.
Valloire is a small town in the French Alps where 2°REG has a mountain post. I didn’t know then that I’m going to pass around a year during my career in 2°REG (I even went back for some weekends to ski with friends). I didn’t mind it at all, because the time I passed in Valloire was always awesome. Well, not this time.
We took our rooms and had the whole afternoon to prepare our gear according to a list for the next day. After dinner, the instructors explained us the program of the 3 weeks long training. They showed us some new equipment we didn’t see during the BSM and learned a few useful knots.
The first days weren’t physically too hard
because the training plan was progressive, but thanks to the instructors we kept the well-known “Legion atmosphere”. Normally when we’re in the mountains, physical punishment like push-ups and jumping Jacks are forbidden. It could quickly turn an easy mission into a dangerous one, but while we were down at the chalet nothing could stop the instructors.
We finished each day around 22.30, so a week later the most of us became a master of knots because we couldn’t do anything else than practicing. Nowadays I find it much cooler, than when I was actually doing the training. I think if I understood better French, I could have reach a better ranking at the end.
From the second week the program was more intensive as the instructors predicted at the beginning. The morning we woke up at 5AM and went out hiking. The longest days we walked more than 20 km and it wasn’t as easy as in Castel.
I thought the hardest part was done
when we arrived up to the hill, but not at all. The descent was more dangerous and sometimes harder. Everyone was tired and less concentrated after hours of physical effort. Three of us got injured until the end of the training, each one happend during the descent.
We had a quick lunch back at the chalet. The food was incomparably better than in the regiment. After mealtime we continued the training with rock climbing the whole afternoon. During the second part of the training, we didn’t have any courses, lessons and practical activities after dinner. I didn’t mind at all, because the BAM was more tiring the the BSM.
The last week we went up to Grand Galibier,
a beautiful summit of the Massif des Cerces. We felt the end in the air before leaving from Valloir. It was rather an excursion than a military training.
The sun was shining, the landscape was super beautiful and I was only looking for the holiday I got after the BAM. The snow line was over 2700 meters, but we continued to climb up to 3228 meters to the summit.
Some photos and a quick lunch at the top and we started the descent.
A half an hour later I heard someone shouting from the end of the column, but I didn’t understand anything. I only realized a big degradation of the atmosphere.
Nobody was joking, laughing or talking anymore. During the retour, my Belgian friend told me that one of our comrade has lost his mountaineering axe, but an instructor has found it and we are going to “have fun”…
Once we arrived back to the chalet, a Brazilian sergeant made us doing push-ups on the hot assembly area until one of us couldn’t continue. The captain stopped the punishment 30 minutes later.
The final test wasn’t easy for me, but I wasn’t the last one at least. Back at the regiment I prepared my stuff, but this time not for another training but for a 3 weeks long holiday.