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

  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Greg, I did have a graphic at one time but I don't recall it having reso...
  • Greg: I remember there being an image of the D scale at some point – with resort ...
  • Hans D.: Great advice. I hadn't thought about the "quickstep" notch, but now that y...
  • Dean Gagnon: Hello, Does anyone know where to get spare hinges for the tounge of the ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Billy Goat, IMHO the Amer (Salomon) binding is not a done deal, it will be ...
  • Rod Georgiu: Good idea...
  • zak: Any idea on if/when Scarpa will update the F1 to include the tech from the ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I'll say it. Many Dynafit ski models are built to be lightweight and not pa...
  • Tomas: Destruction topsheet - only 2 days during normal telemark skiing. I'm wait...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Glad you liked the photos, was a fun day with you guys. Main thing, just gi...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Agree, someone needs to forget about TUV and all that sort of thing and jus...
  • szaraz levente: I do not need a TUV certificate brake, I only hate the wire wich connect me...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hans, the best thing to do is put your boot-binding combo on a release test...
  • Hans D.: Regarding touring boots with swappable soles for alpine use: I have Lupo TI...
  • Dave Johnson: My mind is blown at the binding technology going on today. Imagine, in '76 ...
  • Bar Barrique: Jason; If you choose to replace the liners, I would advise speaking to the ...
  • BillyGoat: Convertible alpine bindings will defiantly have a market (aside from the fi...
  • Lou Dawson 2: My bad Dan, trying to be brief, I'm talking about the boot locator things, ...
  • Dan: I'm reading wildsnow religiously but I don't know what's the deal with the ...
  • XXX_er: I used to think that I MUST have a cuff cant adj at the outside cuff pivot ...
  • Lou 2: Tom, a canted cuff really helps me as well, sigh.... Probably still somewh...
  • Tom Gos: Lou, thanks for confirming that the new Maestrale will not have cuff cant r...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Dynafit has packs with the same thing, just a compartment on the bottom of ...
  • Rod Georgiu: Can you explain the lower compartments with the flap? Also , have you se...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Sounds like they are incompatible, or perhaps grind off the TR2 metal tabs ...
  • William Häni: Hi, I have a pair of dynafit beast 16. I want to combine them with a pai...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Information I'll add to blog posts about this Salomon brake stopper: It's v...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Nice info Flo, thanks for helping out! Lou...
  • See: Maybe try rebaking (thermo molding) the bad liner?...
  • Flo: Me again, in case, anyone is interested in the purpose of these little plas...

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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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