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A podcast about the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division
and the dawn of outdoor recreation in America

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Unabridged episodes!
PODCAST EPISODES
Ninety Pounds of Rucksack: Episode 06

Ninety Pounds of Rucksack: Episode 06

This Abridged version of Episode 6 follows the mountain troops to Mount Rainier National Park where, in the middle of February 1942, they began their ski training at one of the best places a soldier...

PARADISE: EPISODE 05

PARADISE: EPISODE 05

This Abridged version of Episode 5 explores the 10th Mountain Division's halcyon days: the pivotal period from late 1941 until early 1942 when the War Department activated America’s very first test...

The Ski Patrols: Episode 04

The Ski Patrols: Episode 04

Episode 4 takes a deep dive into the US Army's experimental ski patrols of 1940-1941, and the events that led to the activation of the 1st Battalion (Reinforced), 87th Mountain Infantry at Ft....

The Drumbeats of War: Episode 03

The Drumbeats of War: Episode 03

This Abridged version of Episode 3 explores the 10th Mountain Division's backstory in the lead-up to America's entry into World War II. The episode includes abridged interviews with Chris Juergens,...

The State of the Art: Episode 02 Part 2

The State of the Art: Episode 02 Part 2

Episode 2, Part 2 delivers a deep dive into the state of American and European climbing before the war, as well as how the rise of the Third Reich caused some of the best German and Austro-Hungarian...

The State of the Art: Episode 02 Part 1

The State of the Art: Episode 02 Part 1

Episode 2 Part 1 provides a sweeping overview of the history of skiing in America as told through the experiences of one of the 10th Mountain Division’s greatest unsung heroes, John Andrew McCown...

The Winter War: Episode 01

The Winter War: Episode 01

This Abridged version of Episode 1 looks at how the 1939 Soviet invasion of Finland catalyzed the creation of the 10th Mountain Division… with a little help from the National Ski Patrol System, the...

The Genesis of Ninety-Pound Rucksack: Episode 00

The Genesis of Ninety-Pound Rucksack: Episode 00

How a search for the roots of Teton mountaineering led to a podcast (and book) about the US Army's 10th Mountain Division and the dawn of outdoor recreation in America. “As is well known,” American...

ABOUT NINETY-POUND RUCKSACK

For students of history, Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has an eerie parallel: the Soviet Union’s 1939 invasion of Finland, which played out before a global audience as small bands of Finnish soldiers in white camo lobbed molotov cocktails into tank cockpits, then melted back into the forest on skis. The Finns’ guerilla sorties disrupted Soviet advances for three and a half months before being overwhelmed by a 4-to-1 advantage—and sparked the creation of the 10th Mountain Division, a gritty unit of climbers and skiers who trained for more than two years in the Colorado Rockies (often wearing ninety-pound “rucksacks,” or backpacks) to fight the Axis powers in extreme cold and mountainous terrain.

The story of the 10th is famous for good reason. Not only did its insertion into the war help end Germany’s occupation of Italy; post-war, its veterans founded and developed ski areas across America, started companies like NOLS and Nike and launched the fields of avalanche science and wilderness rescue.

Ninety-Pound Rucksack is a podcast that examines the stories that made the unit famous as well as those history has forgotten. Equal parts real-time research, intimate conversation and revelatory journalism, Ninety-Pound Rucksack explores not only the conventional wisdom about the 10th, but the transformative power of the mountains to forge a collective identity among the mountain troops—and to ignite a passion for the outdoors that reshaped American society in the process.

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PARTNERS

Denver Public Library
Tenth Mountain Division Foundation
The American Alpine Club
10th Mountain Division Descendants, Inc.