It Was A Famous Apres Ski Hangout Back In The Day.

Hint: Think Colorado. What place? What year? Thanks to the Colorado Snowsports Museum for this blast from the past.

Last Week: Bang, Bang

As we said last week, it’s not what you think. It sure looks like the 10th Mountain in training at Camp Hale, as several readers have guessed.

Here’s the story of the photo, taken from the library archives of the Alf Engen Museum, Park City, as explained by Jon Green, the museum’s operations manager.

Taken around 1942, this image shows paratroopers from Fort Benning, GA, who were sent to Alta to learn how to ski and fight in the snow.

From the book, Dick Durrance: The Man On The Medal, The Life And Times Of America’s First Great Ski Racer, as told by the inimitable John Jerome:

“In the fall of 1941, a few months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, [the 17-time national championship ski racer] Dick Durrance got a call from a Jack Tappan, an army colonel, who asked if he was interested in training paratroopers for ski warfare. Washington had determined that the U.S. would probably soon be involved in a war in Europe, and part of it might be fought in the Alps in the winter.” At the end of that winter, Dick and his fellow instructors determined that “maybe a third of the troopers would become pretty good skiers, the middle third could get by, but the other third had better stay in the paratroopers and forget it.”

Just after Pearl Harbor, early elements of what became the 10th Mountain were activated. The planners decided to recruit active skiers and outdoorsmen who actually knew mountain sports, rather than convert standing regiments of troops, even highly trained paratroopers. Perhaps the lessons learned by Dick Durrance at Alta led to that wise decision.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar Cyndy Scholz says:

    Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO?

  2. Red Onion, Aspen, CO circa 1962…….or Tulagi’s, Boulder, Co same vintage

  3. Avatar Mary Lou Riley says:

    The Dillion Inn in Silverthone, CO

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