The US ski resorts constructed during World War II
An elite division of mountain fighters who had fought against Hitler’s forces in Europe came back to the US to help spread the sport of skiing there.
The Colorado ski resort of Vail, which is 100 miles west of Denver, is surrounded by mountains
It all began with a meeting in a ski resort in Vermont. Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole established the National Ski Patrol (NSP) in 1938 to offer medical assistance and emergency rescue on far-flung slopes. Dole observed the so-called Winter War, which was the start
To assist in preparing the new force, the War Department enlisted the NSP. The division drew non-traditional soldiers, such as champion skiers from New England universities
The division quickly relocated to Camp Hale, a new training centre 40 miles south of what is now Vail. The camp was situated on rocky ground, close to 9,000 feet above sea level, and would help the almost 19,000 soldiers be ready for any upcoming fights. According to McKay Jenkins, author of The Last Ridge:
The 10th Division anticipated 90% casualties, yet none occurred during the nearly vertical ascent up Riva Ridge, a precipitous elevation that overlooked Mount Belvedere. The soldiers’ unofficial slogan, “sempre avanti,” allowed them to glide
According to Jeff Wiles, manager of guest services at Vail Resort It actually opened up the Italian
According to Jeff Wiles, the Vail Resort’s manager of guest services, “It actually made the Italian Campaign [the Allies’ strategy to disperse the Axis forces in the Apennine Mountains] easier to implement and hastened the war’s conclusion.
Many of the division’s veterans returned to the few ski communities in the US following the war’s conclusion
In fact, one of the division’s veterans’ most enduring contributions was their role in making skiing more widely known
Other graduates of the section started outdoor gear companies including Gore-Tex, Vibram, and Outdoor Research. They designed backpacks, tents, and other equipment in response to their experiences in cold weather in Italy.