Over 50 years ago, the U.S. Army embarked on a grand experiment to see if they could train soldiers to fight in the mountains as they did in Europe.
The Germans had Mountain troops (Gebirgsjaegers). The Italians had Mountain troops (Alpini). The British had Mountain troops. The Swiss, French and Russians all had Mountain or Ski troops. In 1942, the U.S. Army finally got their own Mountain Troops.
These men became the U.S. Armys Ski Troopers of WWII. They trained in Washington, Colorado and on Arctic ice fields. They braved the cold of Kiska (in the Aleutian Islands) and the mud of Italy.
The 10th Mountain Division was the last unit committed to the European Theater of Operations.
When it was all said and done, they came home to teach skiing to their friends and families. They created ski resorts like Vail, and trained new skiers in almost every ski area in the U.S.
Thousands learned to ski on surplus Army equipment, and we all now enjoy the fruits of their efforts.
For comprehensive coverage of the fascinating history of the 10th Mountain Division, be sure to visit the 10th Mountain Division web site.
Find out about the 10th Mountain Hut System here.