Climb to Conquer: The Untold Story of WWII's 10th Mountain Division

Climb to Conquer: The Untold Story of WWII's 10th Mountain Division

by Peter Shelton


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Few stories from the "greatest generation" are as unforgettable — or as little known — as that of the 10th Mountain Division. Today a versatile light infantry unit deployed around the world, the 10th began in 1941 as a crew of civilian athletes with a passion for mountains and snow. In this vivid history, adventure writer Peter Shelton follows the unique division from its conception on a Vermont ski hill, through its dramatic World War II coming-of-age, to the ultimate revolution it inspired in American outdoor life.

In the late-1930s United States, rock climbing and downhill skiing were relatively new sports. But World War II brought a need for men who could handle extreme mountainous conditions — and the elite 10th Mountain Division was born. Everything about it was unprecedented: It was the sole U.S. Army division trained on snow and rock, the only division ever to grow out of a sport. It had an un-matched number of professional athletes, college scholars, and potential officer candidates, and as the last U.S. division to enter the war in Europe, it suffered the highest number of casualties per combat day. This is the 10th's surprising, suspenseful, and often touching story.

Drawing on years of interviews and research, Shelton re-creates the ski troops' lively, extensive, and sometimes experimental training and their journey from boot camp to the Italian Apennines. There, scaling a 1,500-foot "unclimbable" cliff face in the dead of night, they stunned their enemy and began the eventual rout of the German armies from northern Italy.

It was a self-selecting elite, a brotherhood in sport and spirit. And those who survived (including the Sierra Club's David Brower, Aspen Skiing Corporation founder Friedl Pfeifer, and Nike cofounder Bill Bowerman, who developed the waffle-sole running shoe) turned their love of mountains into the thriving outdoor industry that has transformed the way Americans see (and play in) the natural world.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451655100
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 05/16/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 317,466
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Peter Shelton has been a contributing editor and columnist at Ski magazine (where he first wrote about the 10th Mountain Division), as well as a correspondent for Outside magazine since 1984. He lives in Montrose, Colorado.

Table of Contents



1. Minnie's Ski Troops

2. Paradise

3. "I Love a Soldier"

4. The Homestake Fiasco

5. "Too Beautiful a Place to Die"

6. Sport Imitates War

7. Not Too Swift

8. The Winter Line

9. Riva Ridge

10. Belvedere

11. R&R

12. Race to the Alps

13. Tunnel of the Dead

14. Mountain Idylls

15. "We Could Do Almost Anything"

16. A New World Outside




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