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U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division gets back to its Colorado roots: "Mountain tough to every bit of the core"

U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division gets back to its Colorado roots
U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division gets back to its Colorado roots 02:17

You might be familiar with the United States Army's 10th Mountain Division, which started right here in Colorado's mountains during World War II. The idea (in a very trimmed-down version) was to train troops in alpine environments so they would be able to take the fight to the Italian Alps against the Axis powers.

Today, the division still exists and is based out of upstate New York and it is still heralded as one of the more difficult divisions to get into, with an emphasis on rigid physical and mental toughness.

Now, the division is looking to touch back to its roots with one of the most Colorado adventures you can think of; a 24-mile trek between Camp Hale National Monument and Vail Resort.

"Lot of uphill, lot of downhill, lot of uphill, said Trux Dole. "They did it in 15 hours."

RELATED: 10th Mountain Division veterans share history of Camp Hale

Dole is the former chairman of the 10th Mountain Division Foundation and grandson of one of the National Ski Patrol founders (and, subsequently, a 10th Mountain Division founder).

"They are mountain tough to every bit of the core," he said.

He believes this division still very much holds an important role in our armed forces.

"They are realizing, in today's geopolitical situations, there are mountains in a lot of places. This is America's only alpine division. Doesn't mean they can't fight anywhere, but they have that extra fellowship of the rope, the mountain, that mountain athleticism that you don't get every day," Dole said.

That mountain athleticism was showcased Sunday during the Ski Trooper Cup, a friendly competition that pushed troops to their limit skinning, rappelling, skiing and climbing.

RELATED: WWII vets reunite for 10th Mountain Division ski day

Lt. Col. Marc Cleveland of the 10th Mountain Division said it's what they're trained for, even if the elevation is significantly higher up here.

"We are the first mountain division in the U.S. Army -- the first one created for a specific purpose; to fight in Italy in World War II. And we did that," Cleveland said. "People love knowing when there is a challenge. We can all come together to accomplish something."

Sgt. Benjamin Andringa, 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, said the training is unlike that of any other division.

"The number one thing (needed) to operate in this environment is fitness," Andringa said. "Your aerobic capacity needs to be really high and you need to be a strong mental person too and have the skills to survive in this environment and know how to conduct yourself as a squad, as a team and overcome any challenge that is in our way."

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