All this week, Vail Mountain is hosting a 10th Mountain Appreciation Week. The 10th Mountain Division was an elite division of soldiers that utilized skis to traverse the mountains of Germany during WWII. These soldiers made a dramatic impact in the war and are credited for many allied victories. After returning from the war, many of the division’s members went on to found the very first private ski resorts in the United States, and thus birthed the modern day ski industry we know today.
In honor of their service to the United States, and their contribution to the sport of skiing and snowboarding, Vail Mountain is holding a week of activities in and around the resort. The festivities kicked off on Tuesday with a reunion breakfast hosted by the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum. Once the breakfast concluded, the remaining members of the original 10th Mountain Division headed up the mountain for a re-dedication of Minnie’s Mile.
Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole is known as the “Father of the 10th Mountain Division”. Dole was an avid sportsman residing in New England, in 1938; he founded the National Ski Patrol System. He was the first American to propose the idea of a trained ski/mountaineering division for the U.S. forces — especially to take on the well-fortified German mountainside bases. The War Department readily accepted Dole’s idea on November 15, 1941, thus activating the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Mountain Regiment. The National Ski Patrol was named as the official recruitment agency, and Minnie was given the task to recruit 25,000 men in 60 days for the 87th Infantry. This began the 10th Mountain Division whose permanent training center was Camp Hale in Colorado.
On Wednesday evening 10th Mountain Veterans Earl Clark and Dick Over gave a stirring presentation to the public. Both Clark and Over provided audiences with deeply personal first hand stories from their time training at Camp Hale and their time battling the Germans throughout Europe.
The week of 10th Mountain events concludes on Friday with a fireside chat with 10th Mountain Division Veteran, Sandy Treat who will also provide attendees with tales from his time at Camp Hale and on the battlefields of World War II.
In addition to founding some of the most amazing ski areas in the world, the 10th Mountain Division innovated equipment and outdoor clothing which continue to impact the industry today.
For more information about the 10th Mountain Division presentations please contact the Colorado Ski Museum @ Vail. 970-476-1876.
The 10th Mountain was featured in The Ski Channel’s latest feature film Winter. Check out this short segment from the film.