Warren Miller WWII Ski Trooper Documentary Premieres in Missoula Dec. 7

“Climb to Glory” tells the story of the 10th Mountain Division and how the Greatest Generation shaped the ski industry.

The legacy of World War II’s 10th Mountain Division ski troopers extends beyond their victories in the mountains of northern Italy in 1945. The division produced a generation of skiers passionate about the sport and mountain lifestyle. On Sunday, December 7, Warren Miller Entertainment’s documentary, “Climb to Glory,” premieres in Missoula, telling the story of the ski troopers and how they shaped the growth of the U.S. ski industry after the war.

“The documentary is not your typical Warren Miller thrills and spills film,” said Donovan Power, co-director of Missoula’s Freestyle Ski Team. “While it showcases plenty of skiing, it’s a thoughtful tribute to the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division. We’re excited to bring the film to Missoula to share the story and introduce younger generations of skiers to our skiing heritage.”

Climb to Glory

10th Mountain Division Ski Troopers (courtesy of Warren Miller Entertainment and the Colorado Ski and SnowboardMuseum)

Warren Miller’s “Climb to Glory”
Legacy of the 10th Mountain Ski TroopersMissoula PremiereDate: Sunday, December 7

Time: Doors open 4:30 p.m., Film showing 5:30 p.m.

Location: Top Hat Lounge, 134 West Front St., Missoula

Tickets: $5 for kids, $10 advance, $12 at door. Tickets available here.

 

The 10th Mountain Division trained for much of 1943 and 1944 at Camp Hale in Colorado. Chuck Hauptman, age 92 from Billings, fought in the 10th Mountain Division alongside many Montanans and said they were requiredletters of recommendation to enter the division, unprecedented at the time, to affirm that the men were skilled outdoorsmen.

Training at Camp Hale was not for the weak of heart. The Division trained at 9,200 feet and honed the skills of its soldiers to fight and survive under the most brutal mountain conditions. They were deemed “The Ski Troopers.” For the 15,000 troops at Camp Hale, the Army built mess halls, infirmaries, a ski shop, administrative offices, a movie theater and stables for livestock. The troops built their own ski area a couple of miles up the road. The air quality was less to be desired from the locomotives traveling through and coal-burning furnaces.The 10th Mountain Division trained for much of 1943 and 1944 at Camp Hale in Colorado. Chuck Hauptman, age 92 from Billings, fought in the 10th Mountain Division alongside many Montanans and said they were requiredletters of recommendation to enter the division, unprecedented at the time, to affirm that the men were skilled outdoorsmen.

“We called it ‘Smokey Valley School and Riding Academy,’” said Hauptman. “We were cramped in this narrow valley with a constant inversion.”

When the men descended Monte Belvedere in the North Apennine Mountains in January 1945, they were ready and held the mountain against German forces — a feat other Army divisions before them were unable to do. The troops continued to fight in northern Italy through May 1945, when German forces surrendered.

Chris Anthony, world famous skier often featured in Warren Miller’s productions, knew the story of the 10th Mountain Division and wanted to share it with the world. He got Warren Miller Entertainment on board as producer of the documentary and partnered with the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum as well.

“I’m proud to be an American and am really intrigued by our skiing heritage,” said Anthony. “The story of its evolution is parallel with the industrial boom in our country, post-World War II. This is a time when America prospered and leisure time activities became an industry of their own.”

“Climb to Glory” highlights the 10th Mountain Division veterans’ significant impact on the U.S. ski industry and takes viewers back to the site of Camp Hale where it all started.

Training at Camp Hale introduced many to the Rocky Mountains, and while fueling their love of the sport, it also accelerated the engineering of equipment and clothing and the transportation on snow. At Cooper Hill, where the troopers trained, the Army built what was the world’s longest rope tow at the time to take the ski troopers up slope.

When the ski troopers returned home, some retired their skis forever, but most grew their passion for recreational skiing. Many 10th Mountain veterans managed or directed ski schools. And 10th Mountain veterans founded such iconic ski areas as Aspen, Vail and Arapahoe Basin. In Montana, less is known about the involvement of ski troopers in the state’s ski industry as there are only a handful of veterans still living. The Museum of Military History at Fort Missoula exhibits 10th Mountain Division artifacts.

The Missoula premiere of “Climb to Glory” will be held Sunday, December 7, at the Top Hat Lounge. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the screening starts at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for kids, $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Ticket sales benefit the Missoula Freestyle Ski Team. Learn more about the film, watch the trailer and purchase tickets at The Top Hat Lounge.