Tenth Mountain: Rugged Mountaineers
Leadville’s Special Connection with Army Soldiers
This time of year, Lake County is usually celebrating the arrival of some very special veterans and their families. Unfortunately, the traditional Tenth Mountain Division Ski-In Tribute will not be held this year, nor the meaningful programs with local schoolchildren due to COVID-19 public health restrictions. However, Leadville Today caught up with the foundation’s Director Amy Dougherty to see what’s new.
“We’re all going to miss the official Ski-In,” said Dougherty with the 10th Mountain Division Foundation. “But some of us plan to get together out your way,” indicating that smaller, memorial programs will still take place. Additionally, Dougherty sent along a number of Tenth Mountain updates and happening to share with readers interested in keeping up with this special group of soldiers! The #ClimbToGlory legacy lives on for this ambitious group, continuing to support 10th Mountain legacy families many of whom have a special Leadville Connection.
From The Archives: Ski-In Tribute
Background: Tenth Mountain Division
While its hard to imagine it when you pass by the area along Hiway 24 west en route to Minturn and the Vail Valley, Camp Hale once housed a 14,000-man division known as the Army’s Tenth Mountain Division. The area was a training ground for World War II soldiers fighting in the Alps of Italy and the likes. These military men were also some of the finest skiers, mountaineers, mule skinners and horsemen in the world, and were the last American division to see combat. However, once the outfit deployed to the mountains of Italy during the closing months of the war, the troops never lost a battle or gave up an inch of ground. After the war, many of its veterans went on to create or expand the ski resorts of Vail, Aspen, and Arapahoe Basin, as well as many other ski areas around the US.
The famed Tenth has a special connection to Leadville; after all, it was the only town around for miles. Camp Hale might have been the army’s training camp but Leadville was its social playground, resulting in some unions that brought forth the next generation of Leadvillites.
Tenth Mountain Scholarships
Each year, the Foundation awards scholarships for financially needy 10th Mountain Division veterans and their direct and legally adopted descendants, subject to the availability of funds. The Foundation has provided hundreds of annual scholarships since starting the program in the 1970’s. Currently, the Foundation offers direct scholarship grants to help defray the costs of the following types of study programs:
From direct scholarship grants to funding programs for sister 10th Mountain organizations, the Foundation offers support across the spectrum of undergraduate and graduate study to both WWII families and today’s 10th Mountain soldiers and their families. Apply by April 15 for 10th Mountain Division Foundation support for undergraduate and graduate academic studies up to $5,000. Additional scholarships are available for graduate-level study in military history related to the 10th Mountain Division.
Camp Hale, Colorado
Camp Hale Featured on Rocky Mountain PBS Program. Released on TV last November 2020 the film tells the story of Camp Hale, the training grounds for the famed 10th Mountain Division in WWII. Their brave service is honored at what remains of Camp Hale. The site remains significant not only for preservation but for conservation and recreation. As veterans visit this hallowed site, we are reminded of the many legacies created by the men who trained at Camp Hale.
Tenth Mountain Grant Partners
Last year, the Foundation awarded $60,688 in grants and scholarships. However, last year proved to be a very challenging year for their program partners across the country. Yet many did complete programs and have, through tenacity and innovation, found ways to raise awareness and execute outdoor events. Congrats to you all!
Apply For a Partnership Grant: The 10th Mountain Foundation offers grants and financial support for these areas of interest: Collections and Public Resources, Monuments and Memorials, Scholarship & Education, and Outdoor Experience. Partnership applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Budget approval for programs and projects for the upcoming year are
reviewed and voted on at the Annual Meeting in October.
New Book on 10th Mountain History
Looking for a good read this winter? Check out the new historical fiction “The Dark Side of the Mountain” by Christopher Mars, about a WWII 10th Mountain Division infantryman’s adventurous journey. Here’s the Amazon.com summary:
“What’s wrong, Pete?”
“Our roof collapsed. I meant to get the snow off yesterday and prop up the middle, but I was too feverish and exhausted. Nuts!”
After an avalanche buries two young snowboarders deep in the Colorado Rockies, Pete McGregor, an old World War II veteran, treks into the wilderness to rescue them. When he finds the lone survivor incapacitated by two broken legs, the two hunker down in a makeshift snow cave to ride out an approaching storm. While biding their time, Pete reveals his past as an infantryman with the Tenth Mountain Division, a past filled with adventure, sorrow, triumph, and hope. When tragedy occurs, the two men must make some difficult decisions that could cost them their lives.
This dramatic story will engage and surprise you. The raw courage and perseverance of the characters in this story is inspiring and captivating on a deep, heartfelt level. Experience it for yourself in The Dark Side of the Mountain by Christopher Mars. It’s free on Kindle until Dec. 2021.
Ski Instructor Grants Awarded to Soldiers and Vets
Four grants for up to $950 were awarded in December to active soldiers and veterans who have a passion for snow riding and a desire to extend their mountain training. Our partnership with the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA/AASI) funds two certification grants annually. Applications will be accepted again in the fall.
10th Mountain Division Huts
The beloved Colorado 10th Mountain Huts are open this season, with a few restrictions. If you haven’t enjoyed this unique outdoor experience, maybe this is your year. Huts are funded in part by Colorado license plate holders through purchases of 10th Mountain license plates. However recently there have been a few changes to that program. Here’s the latest from the Huts website:
The 10th Mountain Specialty License Plates are issued by the State of Colorado on behalf of the 10th Mountain Division Foundation, a veterans organization that promotes the history and legacy of the 10th Mountain Division. This program helps further the mission of the Foundation and –to a lesser degree –benefit other 10th Mountain-related causes, including the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association which can typically receive about 20% of the new program’s contributions.
People who currently do not have 10th Mountain plates – and want them – are required to make a minimum $45 contribution to the Foundation. This a one-time fee for each vehicle and is not required for renewals. The State of Colorado charges an additional $50 which goes to the State as it does with all specialty plates, and normal vehicle registration fees still apply. If you are a current 10th Mountain plate holder or are interested in purchasing 10th Mountain plates, please visit the Foundation’s website for an excellent explanation of the program as well as necessary forms for replacement or purchase of plates.
Tenth Mountain Tale: An Army Truck of Leadville’s Finest
Tenth Mountain Division Features
Hut! Two! Three! Four!
By Nancy Kramer
The 10th Mountain Division Foundation has enjoyed a longstanding partnership with the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association. The partnership includes sharing the story of the 10th Mountain Division and their love of the mountains through 10th materials at the huts. The staff and work crews of the Hut Association are unfailing in their assistance with maintenance at the 10th Mountain Division Memorial at the top of Tennessee Pass.
In 2014 a Colorado state statute established the sale of custom license plates honoring the 10th Mountain Division. This further solidified the partnership. Led by then Foundation Chairman Tom Hames, a portion of the revenue is earmarked for the Hut Association. The Association uses the funds to advance their Backcountry Exploration Program.
The program encourages the use of huts by educational nonprofits, promotes a better understanding and appreciation of the natural mountain environment and develops individual self-reliance among hut users. They assist nonprofits financially, and offer guidance in trip planning. Who can participate? Nonprofits with an educational emphasis such as schools, youth organizations, churches and senior citizen groups have received up to 50% off whole hut rentals during the week.
The most extensive of the Colorado ski hut systems is managed by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association. A nonprofit corporation, the Hut Association was formed in the early 1980s by several Aspen skiers, including 10th Mountain Division veteran Fritz Benedict. The first 10th Mountain Division Huts built were the McNamara and Margy’s, completed during the summer of 1982. To learn more about the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association and the huts, visit www.huts.org.
From The Archives: Memorial Day Program
10th Mountain Division Foundation
The Foundation honors the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division through veteran, outdoors, history and memorial programs. The mission of the 10th Mountain Division Foundation is to honor and perpetuate the legacy of the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division past, present, and future by doing good works that exemplify the ideals by which they lived. #ClimbToGlory
Posted on Leadville Today with permission. Copyright © 2021 10th Mountain Division Foundation