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Ski-In Daze Honors Army Veterans’ Skiing Legacy

Published: March 8, 2024

Veterans, descendants and friends of the 10th Mountain Division have reunited in late February each year since 1975 at Ski Cooper and the surrounding Pando Valley to honor the men who served in the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

“Carrying on the legacy of our fathers and the 10th is really, really important to us,” said Denise Taylor, the current president of the 10th Mountain Division Descendants board of directors.

Taylor’s father, Marvin Taylor, served in the 10th during World War II. “We have our freedom today because of our forefathers who went and fought for our freedom.”

Where It All Started

The Army built Camp Hale in 1942 on the stretch of land between Leadville and Minturn.

High altitude, mountain terrain, high annual snowfall, accessibility by railway and road were all factors that led to the location choice.

The camp was built for 14,000 ski troopers.

Camp Hale was also close to Cooper Hill, with an elevation of 11,700 feet. After WWII, the area was opened to the public as Ski Cooper.

In 1945, after the 10th Division trained for two years at Camp Hale, skiing, snowshoeing and mountain climbing, the troops were deployed to Italy where they were victorious in the Battle of Riva Ridge that February.

Upon returning from the war, the 10th Mountain Division went on to influence the entire ski and outdoor industry.

A total of 64 ski resorts around the United States are estimated to have been started by the 10th Division.

Arapahoe Basin, Vail Mountain and Aspen are some of the Colorado ski resorts founded by members of the 10th Division.

Camp Hale was designated as a National Monument in October 2022.

Coming Together Like Family

In 1975, Ski-In was started as a way for veterans to stay connected to each other after returning home from the war.

“When all this began, it was a way for the veterans to come back to Colorado from around the country. Then, they would ski Summit County for a week,” Craig Clark, whose father Earl Clark served in the 10th Mountain Division in World War II and organized a national association for veterans of the 10th, said. “There were lifelong friendships and degrees of camaraderie that were forged in the crucible of combat.”

Both Clark and his father found a sense of family amongst fellow service members and family members.

In 2017, the 10th Mountain Division Descendants took over the organization the event, keeping the goal the same.

“Coming back to Ski Cooper, coming back to Cooper Hill, is all about keeping alive the legacy of where it started,” Clark said. “That’s what the Ski-In is all about: honoring their memory, legacy and paying it all forward. This group of men; the things that they did, the things that they sacrificed, and the impact they had on our nation after the fact — that’s worth honoring.”

In 2022, Eagle resident Scott Robinson attended his first Ski-In event. His grandfather, George, trained at Camp Hale and joined the 10th Mountain Division. He fought in the Battle of Riva Ridge and was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and two service stars for his service.

“He loved the mountains and being outside, so joining a ski unit felt like the best way for him to serve,” Robinson said.
Robinson started skiing at Ski Cooper at age 3. He has carried on his family tradition by also teaching his son – also named George after his great grandfather – to ski at Ski Cooper.

“I’ve always felt a strong connection skiing there knowing over 80 years ago, my grandpa was out there skiing the same runs,” Robinson said.
This connection isn’t exclusive to Ski Cooper: “Whether I’m skiing Vail, Beaver Creek or Ski Cooper, I am always reminding myself that I’m skiing these amazing mountains thanks to my grandpa and the others he served with.”

Robinson has recently become more involved with the 10th Mountain Division Descendants, seeing it now as “my generation’s turn to carry on the tradition and history of the 10th.”

“I want my sons to know their great grandpa served our country and is one of the many people who brought skiing to mainstream America,” he added.

The 2024 Ski-In Daze

The annual event is an opportunity to celebrate and remember the courage, sacrifice and entrepreneurship that came from the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division.

Active-duty 10th Mountain soldiers from Fort Drum, New York as well as first-, second- and third-generation descendants gather to celebrate and honor the 10th Mountain soldiers.

The 2024 event hosted speakers, presentations, flyovers, a memorial service and skiing at Ski Cooper, Copper Mountain and Vail Mountain.

For more information on Ski-In Daze, visit


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