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10th Mountain Division

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Exit 154 brought this up in another thread and I'd love to hear what some of the bears know about the 10th? Any suggested reading?

The gentleman who taught me to ski served in the 10th during WWII. Sadly I was about 12 years old and had the attention span of a gnat so his stories never registered. We also had a patroller on my mountain that served with the 10th. Eddie passed away before I joined, but I'm fascinated with the stories still kicking around the patrol.


post #2 of 34
Many resorts in this country would perhaps not have been built without the vision of returning 10th alumnus.
They range from Pete Seibert to Bob Dole. I know that from a conversation with Ernie Blake, he was pissed with the military for not letting him in! Ended up an investigator/translator for the Nurenberg trials.
Although many were austrian etc immigrants, he being Swiss/German never could figure out not being selected.
The list is huge of those who came back and changed the face of skiing in the US. Just think of the talent that was unfortunately left on Riva ridge.
post #3 of 34
I had never known until yesterday that they built Vail.
post #4 of 34
I rode the chair on Palmer several years ago with a 10th Mtn. vet. He had a special edition ski from Hart that said Tenth Mountain Division on it. They were all white with blue lettering. He was origionally from Iowa I beleive.
LaVerne Trepp who founded Pine Mountain Ski Area in Iron Mountain MI was a veteran of the 10th. Unfortunatly I never had time to talk about it with him. Next time I see one of his sons I'm going to ask if their dad ever talked about it. Most of the combat vets I've met would rather not.
post #5 of 34
10th Mountain is a hardcore, High Speed, Low Drag unit.
About the only Leg Unit worth a damn IMHO.
post #6 of 34
Last winter I was on a snocat ski trip at Chicago Basin, out of Ski Cooper (Leadvile). As we were grinding toward the woods we passed through Cooper. Our guide pointed to an ancient looking guy on a run in patrol garb and told us he was an original 10 Mtn Division member. Still kicking. Damn!
post #7 of 34
One of my customers is an older gentleman named Merrill Hastings. As I was preparing for last years "Bears Trip to Tahoe", I mentioned to him that we were headed west, he asked if I had ever skiied the "Sierra Cement". Turns out that Merrill was one of the instructors at Camp Hale, a founding editor of Skiing Magazine and was the guy who convinced ABC Wide World of Sports to cover the 1960 Winter Olympics! Merrill and his wife no longer ski, but they still saddle their own horses. I hope I'm in 1/2 the shape that he is in when I am in my 80's.

By the way, my home "resort" is Ski Cooper, and the main frontside green, Molly Mayfield, is the downhill training run that the Camp Hale folks used. Some of the Vets still ski at Cooper, and many of them are on custom Volants with 10th Mtn Divison labeling. Pretty cool.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Skicrazy (edited August 23, 2001).]</FONT>
post #8 of 34

It may be true that the current 10th based at Fort Drum has never been deployed in combat, but the original 10th saw much combat action in WW2. Most of this was in Italy where they served as combat infantry. About 1000 members of the 10th were killed in action during WW2.
post #9 of 34
Dirt--Lou Dawson's book, Wild Snow, which I am reading now, has lots of info on the 10th. You can get that book on Amazon, and also on Dawson's website, wildsnow.com, which is a damn fine source of info for people (like me) who are trying to learn more about b/c skiing.
post #10 of 34

Strange that the markers would say that.

Ever wonder why Ex sen. Bob Dole can only hold a pen in his right hand? Probably not, but if you were curious, he was seriously injured in COMBAT with with the 10th in WWII.
post #11 of 34
Pinhead -
The 10th mountain is not in the business of skiing, they're in the business of killing people.

Any skiing they do, and I'm sure they could always use more training, is merely another way to cross snow covered terrain.
post #12 of 34
Another good book that though does not deal with the combat side, does follow some interesting guys that served and went on to build US skiing is "Legends of Skiing" by Rick Richards. It is a kinda "coffee table book" with interviews. Guys like Fred Islin, Buzz Bainbridge and others.
I wonder if Cliff talks regularly to Earl Miller...another old guy with some well founded resentments?
The 10th did suffer major casualties at Riva Ridge, but I don't think Dole was shot up there.
post #13 of 34
Robin has made a great point that these vets have largely influenced/built the skiing industry as we know it here in N. America.

If you look around the country, you'll find many areas with a trail or development named "Riva Ridge", in reference to that costly battleground.

I think Dole was injured on Mt Belvidere?
post #14 of 34
Any of you guys seen the video "Fire on the Mountain"? Someone told me that it has aired on PBS. I've seen it and it is amazing footage. Some really good skiing going on. I was amazed at how well these guys could ski and jump. Here is a link if you want to buy it. It is great quality footage, and aesthetically stunning as well IMO. It costs 20$.

I have a family member who was in the 10th. He went to Italy in WW2 and never was able to talk about it much. Way too painful. He was awarded a purple heart and a bronze star and/or silver star (I'm a little fuzzy about the bronze/silver thing). On 2 different occasions he was in a trench/foxhole that was bombed (grenaded?) and was the only one left surviving.

Another time he was hiding in a church cellar while peering out the window as enemy boots marched on by.

He also talked about being shot at while he was skiing. Since they wore white, it was hard to actually see the skier, so the sniper would look at the tracks and aim for the "end" of the evolving track. Obviously the skiers would try to ski in protected areas and turn in unpredictable ways!

He did talk about training, how sometimes they would go over to Aspen and they were allowed to hop on the mining ore trains and get hauled up the hill. He never did return to see Aspen as a developed ski resort.

Sorry I'm so foggy about military proceedure and jargon. Guess I should consider myself lucky that I _don't_ know much about that stuff.
post #15 of 34
Gee, Pinhead, I'd have expected Cliff to try selling you a condo instead of a ski story.
post #16 of 34
If my memory serves me right Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in WW II, was in the Tenth.
post #17 of 34
Some confusion here...

Current 10th Mountain Division is not an alpine oriented unit. They are just light infantry that happen to be stationed someplace where it snows...a lot. Unfortunately, Fort Drum is flat. Not going to comment on the "leg" unit comment...I'm at Bragg, but not with the 82nd Airplane Gang.

10th Special Forces Group is probably the folks that were seen training at Copper. They are stationed at Fort Carson in the Springs. 10th SF Group's area of concentration is Europe, so they have to deal with Alpine warfare on a very limited basis.
post #18 of 34
slatz -

Audie Murphy is a legend among Foward Observers for something he did in the war.

Apparently, he called in artillery fire on ON HIS OWN POSITION and crawled under a dead tank to protect himself.

The germans who were overrunning his position got caught in the barrage.
post #19 of 34
My Friends Grandpa was in the 10'th he still skis and he is 80 something. They did fight in the war and they actually took a Warehouse in the alps somwhere because he has a bunch of German made gear.
post #20 of 34
Hey guys, the 10th was a mountain warfare trained unit, now they are a light infantry division. The 10th was moved to Ft Drum for political reasons. They fought in every major battle of the Italian campaign during WWII. I believe they were deployed for Desert Storm, but I may be mistaken. They keep the "Mountain" moniker, but they aren't alpine specialists anymore. Light fighters are among the best trained soldiers in the Army.

Audie Murphy was the most decorated individual (USA) in WWII. He was in the 3rd Infantry Div. Fought like a madman. The incident referred to earlier in this thread is, I believe, where he earned the Medal of Honor. He jumped on the back of a burning tank and fired it's external .50 cal. machine gun, turning away a German attack, and saving his unit from being wiped out. He jumped off the tank just before it exploded.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by girthman (edited August 29, 2001).]</FONT>
post #21 of 34
the impact these gentlemen had on all of our lives cannot be overstated. Amazing I knew little or nothing about them till my time in aspen, where they are revered as alpha & omega. since I have been back in Utah, I have started noticing how much they had to do with Snowbasin, Alta, etc.
I would love to thank all of them still around & departed.
post #22 of 34
Thanks for the history.
I saw The Audie Murphy Story in black and white in a theater as a kid. He played himself in the movie.
post #23 of 34
Thanks to all who contributed to this thread.
post #24 of 34
I believe Paul Pezoldt who started the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Lander,WY was also a 10th Mountain Division member. He and the school separated in the late '80's I believe.
post #25 of 34
I think that the 10'th incurred heavy mortality during the fighting in Somalia and were noted in the recent book "Blackhawk Down".
post #26 of 34

The 10th was deployed in Italy during WWII. They were instrumental in taking a heavily defended German position on high ground on that had the allies stopped cold. They employed their climbing skills to gain the top in the night and mount an attack which took the enemy position. I can't remember the quotes, but the defeated German officer made some comments as to the unbelivable toughness and unstoppable nature of the men of the 10th.

Here is a LINKto a site that actually has the story.

Here some text from the actual story

"The division entered combat on January 28, 1945 in the North Apennine Mountains of Italy. The division faced German positions arrayed along the 5 mile long Monte Belvedere-Monte della Torraccia ridge. Other divisions had attempted to assault Mount Belvedere three times, even holding it temporarily, but none had succeeded. To get to Mount Belvedere the division first had to take a ridge line to the west known to the Americans as the Riva Ridge. The Germans on Riva Ridge protected the approaches to Mount Belvedere. The assault on Riva Ridge was the task of the 1st Battalion and F Company, 2d Battalion, 86th Mountain Infantry. After much scouting, it was decided the assault would be at night, a 1,500-vertical-assent. The Germans considered the ridge to be impossible to scale and manned it with only one battalion of mountain troops. The attack by the 86th on February 18, 1945, was a complete success and an unwelcome surprise to the Germans<FONT size="1">

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[This message has been edited by Roto (edited September 10, 2001).]</FONT>
post #27 of 34

There are a lot of threads that deal with 10th Mountain Division, but this one has the title, so I'll post here on something coming up that might be of interest to you CO folks. Would love to attend, but sadly ain't gonna happen.


Join us on Friday October 18th 2013 in the Foss Auditorium at the American Mountaineering Center (710 10th Street, Golden, CO 80401). Ticket price includes entrance to movie and raffle ticket.


Doors open at 7:15, and the show starts at 8:00. Warren Miller Entertainment collaborated with The Colorado Ski Museum to produce a special 45-minute documentary that tells the story of the 10th Mountain Division Ski Troopers and how they transformed the U.S. Ski Industry after World War II. These heroes came back from war as pioneering individuals and helped build the industry from resort development to ski instruction. “Climb to Glory” highlights their astounding impact to our country and the ski industry, while incorporating the fun and flair of traditional Warren Miller films.



post #28 of 34

My wife was in the 10th Mountain Division back in the early nineties. We spent two years up at Fort Drum in upstate NY back after rotating out of Germany. I grew up skiing in Europe and Dry Hill was my first introduction to skiing in the US, and to the wonders of lake effect snow. When it snows there, it really snows.

post #29 of 34

Thanks for this thread. Having been in the ski business here in Colorado for a long time, I have had the considerable honor of knowing quite a few 10th Mtn. vets.


It would be difficult to overestimate their impact on the American ski scene, not to mention the heroism and sacrifice of serving your country in a war.


The 10th Mtn. Hut system scattered around central CO makes for incredible summer or winter touring and provides a fitting and lasting legacy to those who served.


I just finished reading a book about this bit of history I highly recommend "The Boys of Winter" by Charles J. Sanders. 


Anyone who is a skier owes a debt to these men, just as all of us who live free must thank those who fought on our behalf.




post #30 of 34

Stowe has a statue at Spruce base dedicated to the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. It was cast from the same mold of the statue at Vail.



The article about the statue and the 10th's history in Stowe:


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