As winter blankets the iconic slopes of Aspen with its pristine snow, the echoes of history resonate through the mountains, whispering tales of courage and camaraderie, adventure and alpenglow. There’s a rich and underground history in the alpine above Aspen tied to the 10th Mountain Division Huts, where the legacy of the fearless soldiers from World War II intertwines with our present-day winter wonderland.
The 10th Mountain Division: Pioneers of Alpine Warfare
During World War II, the 10th Mountain Division emerged as pioneers of alpine warfare, navigating the rugged terrains of the Italian Alps to secure victory. These soldiers, many of whom developed a deep love for the mountains during their training in Colorado, would unknowingly leave an indelible mark on the very slopes they once called home.
After the war, several veterans of the 10th Mountain Division returned to Colorado, drawn back by the majestic peaks and the thrill of alpine adventures. Recognizing the unique beauty and challenges of the Rockies, they played a pivotal role in the development of the state's ski industry, and Aspen became a hub for these returning heroes.
The Birth of the 10th Mountain Division Hut System
In the spirit of honoring their wartime camaraderie and passion for the mountains, the 10th Mountain Division veterans, along with organizations like the Tenth Mountain Hut Association (TMHA), began establishing a network of backcountry huts. These huts, scattered across the Rockies, including the environs of Aspen, served as a tribute to their shared history and an invitation to future generations to explore the rugged beauty of the high country.
Skiing Through History: Aspen's 10th Mountain Division Huts Today
Fast forward to the present, and the 10th Mountain Division Huts have become an integral part of Aspen's winter landscape. These cozy mountain refuges offer a unique opportunity for modern-day adventurers to ski in the footsteps of history, experiencing the very terrain that once served as the training grounds for the courageous soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division.
The 10th Mountain Division Huts are not just shelters in the backcountry; they are living monuments to bravery and a testament to the enduring spirit of the mountains. For more information, visit: huts.org.
All images courtesy of the Denver Public Library and the 10th Mountain Hut association