It's raining Alpinists: A day in the life of the IDF Alpine soldiers
At the beginning of winter, the fighters of the IDF Alpine Unit receive their reserve orders and head to Mt. Hermon since only they know how to execute military operations in the heavy snow; Ynet joins the unit on one of its patrol in extreme weather conditions.
At a height 2,000 meters with winds blowing at 70 km/h, the fighters went out to patrol the tri-border area near Syria and Lebanon on the range of Mt. Hermon. Wearing white snow suites, skis strapped to their feet and carrying heavy operational equipment on their backs, they canvassed the area. The troops were looking for anything suspicious that might point at a terror cell or a terrorist who might have crossed the border to execute an attack.
Using their ski polls to signal their readiness, the fighters started scouring the snowy terrain. The snowcat, a vehicle that looks like an enclosed cab running on tracks, plowed through the snow, making way for the fighters.
Later on, the snowcat fell behind to bring up the rear, serving as an extraction vehicle in case anything went downhill. Other forces including infantry and armor stood at the ready nearby, for any scenario.
"Our troops are the only ones who know how to work on rocky and snowy terrain like Mt. Hermon, thanks to the lengthy and unique training we provide our soldiers," explained Amir Shukrun, Commander of the Alpine Unit Training Company.
"We assume the enemy is familiar with snowy terrain and so we make sure to operate wherever they might think to surprise us," he continued.
The unit consists of reserve soldiers who during their active duty, served in elite infantry units. Over the summer, regular infantry units patrol the peak of Mt. Hermon, however, at the beginning of winter, the Alpine fighters receive their orders to report for reserve duty due to their unique set of skills.
"The guys leave their families and their jobs, and come to serve in extreme weather. We come here to do our work in order to protect Israel," said Shukrun, who is set to return home after more than two weeks on the mountain. "Motivation is high and the guys want to contribute their knowledge and experience as much as they can."
The Mt. Hermon front has been relatively calm over the past few years, but the Alpine fighters still maintain a high level of awareness.
One of the main difficulties, as explained by the fighters, is that every time they reach the mountain—the view and the terrain change in accordance with the snowfall, making it somewhat harder to adjust.
And yet, everything is covered in white—pure and unblemished.