It is an honor for Colorado that President Biden chose Camp Hale for his first new national monument designation. In a high mountain valley near Leadville, the camp was built to train qualified volunteers and recruits for a unique role in bringing WWII to an end. These courageous 10th Mountain Division soldiers learned to fight in mountain terrain, all while skiing and climbing fully armed. These skills were put to the test in early 1945 when the 10th broke the Gothic Line, Germany’s last defense in the Italian Apennine Mountains. The heroic ski troopers took heavy casualties but never lost a battle in three months of intense fighting. They overwhelmed the opposition and captured 15,000 prisoners of war.
Notably, the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument includes nearly 54,000 acres of mountain terrain where the ski troopers ran maneuvers and learned their specialized brand of mountain warfare. The ridges, peaks and valleys not only honed their athletic and soldier skills, but deepened their intrinsic love and appreciation for the splendor and beauty of the mountainous outdoors.