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Social climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 5, 2008 - 01:22am PT
hey there all....

seems everyone in the tv and movie world is fast to honor entertainer (some of which can be fine folks, so i am not knocking them, just adding a note)... yet, folks like these guys/gals are over-looked.... some of these skiers, though, were snatched up for an abbot and castello movie, too, which some of us, as kids, may have remembered:


i was just courious.... mountaineers, rock climbers, or those that worked hard trudging the grateoutdoors, just for the pure love of it all, were called for use, here... skiers, more in particular... perhaps some of you old-timers know more on this???

here is a plaque that any traveling climber, etc, must have seen many times over:
In 1997, Highway 89 between Tahoe City and Truckee was renamed "The 10th Mountain Division Highway" in salute to these Winter Warriors. Two signs posted on each end of the highway commemorate this honor.

this is just an excerpt from that whole link:

The War Dept. asked Dole to utilize the National Ski Patrol System to recruit skiers and mountain climbers from all over the country. Anyone wanting to join needed three letters testifying to their skiing ability and outdoorsmanship. Recruiters encouraged all outdoor-oriented men to volunteer for mountain soldier training, which attracted park rangers, trappers, hunting guides, and ranchers. The Army wanted 2,500 men; Dole's system provided more than 3,500. Among the brave volunteers who joined were two former Truckee residents, the late Karl Kielhofer and Pete Vanni.

Have any of you folks heard, or known much about these two men... i was just wondering:
karl kielhofer or pete vanni?

do you or have you heard of any old time climbers, or such, friends or relatives that may joined up?

it seems a part of climbing history that is very UNKNOWN... i had never heard of this, and never saw the plaque...but then i never got up north much, my brothers did far more than i---as i waw in texas...


Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 5, 2008 - 01:29am PT
hey there ...

excepts from:

Some of the most famous skiers and mountain men from America and even some from Europe trained at Camp Hale. Roy Mikkelsen, a national ski jumping champion with the Auburn Ski Club, was a second lieutenant at Camp Hale in 1943. Europeans like Austrians Hannes Schneider's son, Herbie, (Schneider Sr. is considered by many the Father of Modern Skiing) and Bill Klein (a founder of Sugar Bowl Ski Resort) joined the mountain unit.

an interesing note, that many an outdoor folks can sure understand, and feel:

Chelton Leonard likes to say that the mountains are a great equalizer, and that soldiers from various countries, enemies or allies, possess a love of mountains, skiing, and snow that transcends the bitterness of war, a common thread that brings them together as friends.

it touches everyone that comes near....

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 5, 2008 - 02:54am PT
hey there... say, thanks...

seems the "old timers" so to speak... were a lot more set to ways of disciplining themselves.... ways that folks don't set to do much these days, in these "too easy times"...

climbers and outdoor folks, are more apt to understand what goes into all such hard work and training...

it seemed to me that these guys from back then, really took on an extra load of hardships.. and of course, they were doing so for their country... and folks doing such, as not for "pleasure purposeses" and the "fun" of it... are often over-looked history wise...

thanks for the info... this is good to know that they are even remembered still...

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Mar 5, 2008 - 05:27am PT
A year ago they had an exhibit on the 10th Mtn. Div at
the Colorado History Museum, of course, because we used to
call them 'our own', as they'd trained for WWII at Camp Hale
near Vail, CO. Many were disappointed when they were transferred
to New York. I don't know if they had the names displayed of
all of the members who fought in WWII, but they even had some
German 'booty' they had captured in Italy.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 5, 2008 - 05:43am PT
We have a monument to the 10th here in Stowe VT the guys who started the division were flatlanders who weekend and holliday skied in VT and they had their meetings at the VT ski areas when they cooked up the idea for a mountain unit.
Scared Silly

Trad climber
Mar 5, 2008 - 06:47am PT
I have known a few 10th Mtn Division soldiers most are gone now - Ken Henderson was an officer while Bill Putman (still living) was one of the grunts under Ken. Both were and are active in the AAC. Both are former AAC presidents. Putman has a book on the Mtn division. Bob Bates was in the quartermaster core did a bunch of equipment testing for the Army. Which is how he and others (Washburn & Moore) did the 3rd ascent of Denali.

Trad climber
Mar 5, 2008 - 07:07am PT
neebee, Mammoth Ski Museum has some stuff about the 10th Mountain Division troupes. Chris Lizza of Lee Vining is a wealth of info on the subject.
Contact the Mono Market, he owns it.

Mar 5, 2008 - 07:18am PT
I run into 10th Mountain people now and again. In 1983 right after moving to California I ran into one of the guys who had quite a sense of humor. He said "there were a lot of foreigners in the Division and the government wouldn't let us get into the fighting. They did not trust us and just wanted to keep us where we couldn't do any harm." Actually this script fits in quite well with what we see on ST.

But, to get back to "what do we do about it now".............

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 5, 2008 - 07:19am PT
Jud thurston got me started climbing. His dad stormed Riva Ridge with the 10th Mtn. My first time up pinnacle gully Mt Washington 1984 Jud caried his dads WWll ice ax.

Trad climber
Reston, VA
Mar 5, 2008 - 07:27am PT

Glad you are picking up on the great history of this fabled Army Division and the men in it. These guys are in their 80s and 90s now and many have already left us. I highly recommend seeing the movie: Fire on the Mountain. It is the story about their exploits in WWII as well as what they did to establish the American Ski and other outdoor industries following the War. One founded the Sierra Club. Another Nike Shoes. But nearly all did somethng of value to make our Country what it is today.

My uncle, Frank Smith was 19 years old when he joined the 10th mountain during WW2. He was an Engineer and one of the few soldiers who was on both the assault on Riva Ridge and the next day on Mt Belvadere in the Appenine Mountains. He also was awarded a Bronze Star W/Valor for taking a bridge over the Po River with his Engineer Recon Squad. He was a good man with great physical prowess and courage. Right now he is in a nursing home with a broken hip and he's fading.

This is a brief WWII operational synopsis of the 10th Mountain in Italy:

"United States and Brazilian soldiers had been unsuccessful in breaking German lines established in the northern Italian Alps, and the defenses appeared impenetrable. From Naples, Italy, the 10th Mountain set sights on routing the Germans from Mount Belvedere. Mount Belvedere provided the key to advancement into the Po Valley and securing Mount Belvedere depended on routing German artillery entrenched on Riva Ridge, a three and a half mile ridge connecting a series of mountains. Warm weather rendered the specially designed winter camouflage clothing and equipment useless and the planned assault on Riva Ridge required climbing rather than skiing. On the night of February 18, 1945, companies of the 86th Regiment scaled Riva Ridge surprising the Germans.

The capture of Riva Ridge enabled the 85th and 87th Regiments to move on Mount Belvedere and the adjacent peaks Mounts Gorgolesco and della Torraccia. In capturing these peaks, the 10th Mountain suffered over 900 casualties. The next major assaults were in March on Mount della Spe and in April at Tole. Victories paved the way to advance on the PO Valley. By April 20th the 10th Mountain Division entered the valley, and after heavy fighting the German Army in Italy surrendered on May 2, 1945. In the campaign in Italy, the 10th took heavy losses with 4,888 casualties including 978 killed in action."

They took casualties but all told during their offensive operations the 10th captured or render combat ineffective 10 German Divisions.

I have some pictures I'll post up.


Trad climber
boys, I dunno.
Mar 5, 2008 - 08:03am PT
Back in the last days of the 60's I for some reason bought a brand new pair of the 10th's skis and unmounted, boxed bindings from a Denver army surplus store and tried to use them in the Maroon Bells.

Those guys were lucky they didn't have to use that ski junk in battle.

The Skis, flat white, very heavy and very long, with no choice of sizing and no sidecut and so stiff, they were almost unskiiable in anything but dead on early winter powder snow conditions. No steel edges, they were useless on crust. and spring pack must have been a joke.

The bindings were battleship grey, made of 3/16" steel plate, and were massive. A long cable and trap locked the ski to your hiking boot, but could be torn off at inopportune times..

The poles had HUGE baskets that snagged on everything in the snow, including the crust. They had large, heavy cotton skins that soaked up water, and a series of 5 or 6 waxes that were actually pretty useful. They had a pinetar base and smelled great. I liked the sticky orange a lot.

The complete set (without boots) must have weighed 20 lbs.

With a pack on, how they did anything at all with the massive weights is amazing.

They must have been insanely good, strong and tough.

In the Bells, I spent 3 days on them, with a pack. I circled the mountains clockwise from the lake, and when I dropped out the steep slope on the way back to the lake, I took the skiis off and launched them, collecting them at the bottom. They would not edge enough to do the traverses, and you couldnt turn them fast enough to begin to slow down on a steep slope. If I had tried running them out I would have hit the bottom at 200 MPH. Once you got going the only way to stop was turn uphill or laydown.
Gary Carpenter

SF Bay Area
Mar 5, 2008 - 08:04am PT
Here is an interesting link I found. Thought that Fred Becky was in this unit.


"In January of 1944, Duke Watson replaced McCown as the commander of the rock climbing school. His staff consisted of many of the top climbers of that generation. David Brower was second in command. Raffi Bedayn was supply officer. Among the fifty instructors many names stand out-Dick Emerson, Fred Becky, Bill Dunaway, to name just a few."
handsome B

Gym climber
Mar 5, 2008 - 09:16am PT
Stu Dole still skis, I think he is in his 90's now.

My grandfather was in the 10th, but doesn't talk about the war.
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Mar 5, 2008 - 09:20am PT
Senator Bob Dole was shot pulling a radio operator out of harms way on Mt. Belvedere.

David Brower first Executive Director of the Sierra Club and Yosemite climber was in also.

These guys were the real deal.

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 5, 2008 - 09:37am PT
hey there all...say, this is wonderful... this is a lot more than i had hoped for... my mom always taught me respect for folks from generations before us---as she used to, or still tries to read biographies, etc....

so that was one of the reasons i sought to wonder about old time folks that were involved in the outdoors---which led me to this....

i am babysitting a house full of kids now, so i mustn't neglect them, but i am coming back this eveing to seek out more of this stuff....

say, thanks all... i had some nice more specific thanks to add, for yours shares, but i just cant do it yet---but i will....

thanks... this is the fruit of many hard-worked souls...

Trad climber
boys, I dunno.
Mar 5, 2008 - 09:53am PT
Hey Handsome...(??)
If possible, (You wrote in present tense.) you might try and pull some stories out of him still. Tell him its time he told them so others would know the real stuff. And that you're ready to hear them.

I got some surprising stuff out of my Dad once.


Trad climber
Mar 5, 2008 - 10:01am PT
There's a really interesting book on the 10th Mountain Division I read called, I believe, "The Last Ridge." Really interesting stuff. A few guys at Ivy League ski clubs basically contacted the military and offered their services. They somehow convinced the military to give them top notch gear and a training zone in Colorado.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Mar 5, 2008 - 10:02am PT
And you guys are insanely lucky. You have a chance to meet an original member of the group, as well as the first climbing team member of the east face of Whitney, Glen Dawson:


Friends of the Angeles Chapter History Committee:

You are invited to the premier showing of “Golden Youth: The Adventures of Glen Dawson Growing Up In The Sierra Club”, a digital slide presentation that I will be presenting at the next meet­ing of the Ski Mountaineers Section, March 18 (Tuesday) at 7:30 p.m. at the Griffith Park Ranger Station Auditorium, 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles.

Featured will be photos and descriptions of early Dawson outings to local mountains and further afield, along with accounts of Glen’s many rock climbing and ski mountaineering exploits. Please join us in exploring the many facets of the Golden Age of Sierra Club outings.

An added attraction will be the presence of Glen Dawson, himself, now in his 95th year, and in Glen’s parlance, “still able to walk around the block.”

Bob Cates

Chair, Angeles Chapter History Committee


Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Mar 5, 2008 - 10:09am PT
Guys from the 10th Mountain Division returned to the area near the old Camp Hale in Colorado where they trained and founded a small ski resort they called Vail.


ps- not surprisingly, one of the toughest runs on the mountain is named Riva Ridge.

Trad climber
the ville, colorado
Mar 5, 2008 - 10:57am PT
I clip their old pitons all summer out at Camp Hale,Colorado.

I knew quite a few of the old guys when I was the MTn Mgr. at a local ski area 15 yrs back.

I think Bunea Vista Dave is still skiing. Not many are left these days. I remember 25 of them showing up back in 97 for the reunion & one even arrived via parachute. Great mtn. men for sure.

There is a cool route on Independence pass(monitor rock)that goes at an easy 4-5 pitch 5.8 (trooper traverse). It was put up by the 10th mountain guys & a few pitons are there just waiting to be clipped.rg
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