Trooper Traverse Intro & Index

Trooper Traverse — Introduction to our Complete Website Information Archive
Honoring the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division

[click here for route details]

During February of 1944, a small group of 10th Mountain Division soldiers made a winter crossing of the huge snow-covered mountains between Leadville and Aspen, Colorado. Their four day trip, on skis in the highest mountains in the Rockies, was an audacious statement of skill, poise, rugged self-reliance — and the attraction of Aspen.

While legends of the trooper traverse circulated for years, details of the route remained untold. In 2000, well known ski mountaineer and writer Louis Dawson began researching the route by contacting surviving veterans and sifting through archives. He found a wealth of material, but realized that the only way to truly know the trooper traverse was to do it himself. Teaming up with photographers Brian Litz and Chris Clark, Dawson repeated the route in late winter of 2001.

Louis Dawson skis from Darling Pass during the 2001 Trooper Traverse.

Louis Dawson skis from Darling Pass during the 2001 Trooper Traverse.

Dawson’s ensuing work at documenting the Trooper Traverse (here on WildSnow.com and elswhere), blends original historic photos of the soldier’s trip with Brian Litz shots of his 2001 journey, for an unforgettable view of what Dawson calls “the perfect trip.”

What’s more, in his exposital work Dawson details the heroic combat of the 10th during W.W.II, and the immense influence the 10th Mountain Division had on the ski and outdoor industry in America when they returned from the war.

Overall route, Trooper Traverse, Colorado.

Overall route, Trooper Traverse, Colorado. Click to enlarge.

“From the start, it was obvious to me that one of the trooper’s main goals was to enjoy the mountains before they crossed the sea to harm’s way,” says Dawson. “Trooper Richard Rocker later wrote that it was one of the more ‘memorable occasions of the Camp Hale experience.'”

“Indeed,” says Lou, “our re-creation of the trip turned out to be one of the best times I’ve had in my career as a ski mountaineer. There is nothing like combining Colorado’s mountains, snow, skis, good companions and rich history — those are the ingredients for the perfect ski mountaineering trip.”

10th Mountain troopers crest the Continental Divide during their historic 1944 ski traverse from Leadville to Aspen, Colorado.

10th Mountain troopers crest the Continental Divide during their historic 1944 ski traverse from Leadville to Aspen, Colorado. Click to enlarge.

(Exact dates for original Trooper Traverse: February 21-24, 1944. The soldiers arrived in Aspen on the 24th, spent the night in town and were trucked back to Camp Hale during the afternoon of February 25th.)

[feature article]

[route details]

[Roster of men on original trip.]

[Richard Rocker account of original trip.]

[Burdell Winter eulogy]

[90 Pounds of Rucksack, 10th Mountain marching song.]

Following copyrighted downloads are for media or personal use by permission only:

[download high-res print version of ski photo]

[download high-res print version of Lou mug, credit Joe McBride]


[download high-res print version of Ralph Ball photo, with caption, credit Ralph Ball Collection]


  Your Comments

  • trollanski: See, you know what they say about big hands....Big medial malleoli....I hav...
  • A: Thanks Lou. Just the advice I needed to hear. Im often drawn to the latest ...
  • Tom M.: Hi Lou, Another boot review? There is hardly any snow in Colorado and many...
  • Mike: Hi, I saw these in the shop and looks like the U shape of the production mo...
  • Jeff L: I saw they have some kind of mesh "ventilation" above the ankle. I am inter...
  • Lou Dawson 2: AI and all, the binding position has to do with interaction of sidecut and ...
  • Al: I hear ya Christian. Mine aren't 3-4 mm. They're 5.5 CM further forward!! ...
  • Mark W: As far as the Scarpa line goes, the Maestrale RS should be nearly as stiff ...
  • Matus: Skialper, I would say that the "lateral picture" without any explanation wo...
  • Skialper: @Matus - That's a problem. We were ready with a lot of technical drawings c...
  • Matus: Skialper, thank you for the great piece of reading. Q: why there are no...
  • Kristian1: Somekind of flex comparison/characteristics is much valued in a boot review...
  • SkiB: The 1324 gram shell seems heavy(ish) when compared to some recent competito...
  • Erik: These are great instructions for adjusting the Vipec. I just thought I'd p...
  • Louie 3: According to scarpa the fit on the new Maestrales is the same as the old. I...
  • Christian: Just lined up some similarly-lengthed skis with my 176 BMT 94s, and the 94s...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Al, the common method are plastic plugs sold specifically for the purpose. ...
  • Al: Thanks for the input. Asa there is more snow I'll try them out at the curre...
  • Ranger: Not one mention of flex character when skiing. Not a boot review....
  • Ed: Great review - I bought these boots in 2010 and love them. I've now worn th...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Al, it's of course interesting to compare skis, but nearly worthless in de...
  • Al: Interesting. Lined up other skis and some were more forward than the bmts. ...
  • scottyb: I did this mod to my clamps and it was easy peasy Did not use any hot wate...
  • NIck: Tracker 3 vs Barryvox S?? Thoughts?...
  • See: For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed the same thing (with different skis) but ...
  • Bill Hoblitzell: @ Travis, Scarpa has had the practice in the past of breaking their shells ...
  • Al: Hi- I picked up some bmt 94s, 176. Mounted them on the line. Waxing them up...
  • Don Gisselbeck: Clamp a needle-nosed vicegrip in a vice, hook it behind the nylock nut and ...
  • Dabe: shout out to dynafit ultralock and old sportiva spitfire on the no icing fr...
  • GOB: Thanks, Lou. I haven't heard a clear answer, but I imagine they are saying ...

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    Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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