The Vermont National Guard is welcoming military officials from around the world this week for the 55th annual International Association of Military Mountain Schools Conference at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho.

Representatives from 19 countries will train alongside Vermont National Guardmembers on military operations in cold-weather and mountainous conditions.

Instructor-in-training Mariya Vladimirova transferred to the U.S. Army Mountain Warfare school in Jericho six months ago, where she and her classmates have trained in high-altitude ice and rock climbing, high-angle marksmanship and first aid – all procedures that she thinks the nations can trade notes on. 

“A lot of it stems from problem-solving and looking at the environment to figure out what you need for a simple solution,” Vladimirova said. 

In courses at the school, students also use specialized knots to ascend and rappel, traverse mountains and evacuate casualties to safety. 

“I think that’s going to be the coolest part, that knowledge sharing,” she said. 

Dennis Jahn, a lieutenant colonel in the German Army, is excited to pick the brains of other trainees. 

“For me, ice climbing is nothing new, but I’m excited to learn something from the U.S. or other nations,” Jahn said.  

Instructors from other allies that have taken part in the conference in recent years say they share of love of the mountains and have seen firsthand the difference collaboration makes for their battalions.

“You always think you are the king of the hill, but then you talk to other countries and get other perspectives,” said Torbjörn Ohlèn, a military mountain instructor in the Swedish Army. “Sweden is such a small country so if I find something that is really good, I can very quickly and easily incorporate it into my training.”