Legacy of Army’s 10th Mountain Division Lives On at Vail

Things have changed on the Colorado slopes since the Soldiers on Skis prowled these mountains more than 70 years ago.

Groomed runs, for one. Chairlifts to haul you to the top, too, plus on-hill restaurants, shaped skis that make it easy to turn, and disposable toe warmers that stop your feet from turning to Popsicles.

First published by By Pam LeBlanc – American-Statesman Staff , November 14, 2015

blue sky basin
Jack Affleck, Vail Resorts – mystatesman.com

Those soldiers, though, members of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, are fondly remembered here. A ski run at Vail Mountain is named for an important battle they fought. A new whiskey distillery honors their legacy, and a slope-side white tablecloth restaurant bears the division’s name, too.

And every year, Vail hosts a ski-in for remaining veterans of the group.

Hugh Evans, Dick Dirkes and Jimmy Nasser (left to right), all 90 years old, gather at the reunion of the 10th Mountain Division held at Vail in February. Photo by Chris LeBlanc, my stateman.com
Hugh Evans, Dick Dirkes and Jimmy Nasser (left to right), all 90 years old, gather at the reunion of the 10th Mountain Division held at Vail in February. Photo by Chris LeBlanc, mystatesman.com

… At the bottom of the run, we learn more about the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, who are credited with launching the ski industry in Colorado. After returning from Europe, many of them developed and operated ski resorts throughout the country.

That’s what happened here in Vail. Peter Seibert, a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division, and Earl Eaton, a ski racer who later worked at Aspen Ski Resort, teamed up to open Vail in 1962.

In all, Vail now boasts more than 5,200 acres of skiable terrain, including Blue Sky Basin, which opened in 2000 and comes about as close to back-country skiing as you can get while staying in bounds. It’s where some of the resort’s best gladed terrain awaits — along with cliffs and steeps for the daredevils in your group.

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