The cadets in Pittsburg State University’s ROTC Gorilla Battalion will one day be lieutenants in command of soldiers. On Wednesday afternoon, the battalion’s freshmen and sophomores learned a bit about how to command themselves.

The cadets in Pittsburg State University’s ROTC Gorilla Battalion will one day be lieutenants in command of soldiers. On Wednesday afternoon, the battalion’s freshmen and sophomores learned a bit about how to command themselves.

Sixteen freshmen and 15 sophomores took turns navigating the various challenges on the ropes course at Greenbush. Battalion leaders bring the cadets to the “high course” each year as a way for them to test their personal limits.

“It’s a way to get them out of their comfort zone,” said Capt. Drew Polen. “We want to see how they react to the heights and challenges.”

Those challenges include the “swinging beams,” which are suspended from a cable that spans two telephone poles — course participants cross from one side to the other, where they are lowered to the soft grass below. It also includes the “multi-line,” the “catwalk,” the zip line and the “vertical playpen,”  which is an adjustable climbing wall.

The “swinging beams” and the “vertical playpen” were added to the high course last year by Nick Weber, who has been the course director for about five years. Obstacles on the “low course” are about 3-feet off the ground.

The beams cost about $7,000 — paid for with the help of grant money and donated time and equipment from Highland Electric. The “element” boasts 40-foot high platform, as well as a 508-foot zip line that’s 58-feet longer than the original 350-foot line.

The zip line was the most popular of the elements, and the cadets rode it “Superman” style — that is, head-first and hanging from their backs. Sophomore cadet James Hayward said he’s afraid of heights, but that the challenge was worth it.

“It was fun,” said Hayward, who is from Kansas City, Kan. “It was a little iffy at first and I kind of jumped off. Your mind wonders if the equipment is going to hold. But once you feel the harness tighten around you that goes away and it doesn’t matter any more.”

There also are challenges for the course instructors as well, Weber said.

“Keeping them occupied so they don’t have any down time is the biggest challenge,” Weber said. “And we added the vertical playpen and the new zip line so it’s still challenging for the more advanced participants.”

The additions appear to work well, and Hayward said he enjoys participating in the course.

“It really helps to build confidence,” he said. “It also helps you learn to trust your buddies and your team.”