—Honor recognizes Beckwith’s service, contributions to the Division—
Jackson, WY (June 25) – In the Fall of 2022, veteran alpinist and climbing historian Christian Beckwith launched Ninety-Pound Rucksack, a podcast that recounts the story of World War II’s 10th Mountain Division and its contributions to outdoor recreation in America.
On June 22, the 10th Mountain Division inducted Beckwith into its Warrior Hall of Fame for services rendered to the unit.
The 10th Mountain Division was an unprecedented cadre of US Army climbers and skiers who trained for more than three years to fight the Axis powers in extreme cold and mountainous terrain. Not only did the 10th’s 1945 insertion into the European Theater 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.
Based on the podcast’s first few episodes, Beckwith was invited to the 10th Mountain Division’s base in Ft. Drum, New York, in early 2023 to present a history of the Division to its current leadership. Over the past twenty years, the 10th became the most heavily deployed unit in the Army, but two decades of engagements in the Middle East resulted in the loss of most of its mountaineering identity and capacities.
Beckwith began advising the Division on ways to reconnect with its historic mission. His February presentation resulted in the memorialization of Charles Bancroft McLane, the Captain of the 1941 Dartmouth Ski Team and the first enlisted soldier to join the unit, and his proposal to recognize the contributions of 1st Lieutenant John Andrew McCown II, a Teton climber and the hero of Ninety-Pound Rucksack, was adopted when the 10th renamed its Light Fighter School in McCown’s honor.
Beckwith’s induction into the 10th’s Warrior Hall of Fame took place during the week of the memorialization ceremonies for McLane and McCown. The celebrations concluded with a rededication ceremony on Whiteface Mountain, N.Y., on June 23, commemorating the division’s 80 years of alpine history. Beckwith’s keynote presentation on the early history of the unit served as the ceremony’s final event.
“The 10th Mountain Division is one of the most important units in US military history,” said Beckwith. “Not only has its service been critical to US security, but its contributions to outdoor recreation has shaped a cornerstone of American society.”
“I’m deeply honored to become part of the 10th community, and look forward to continuing to help the unit reclaim its mountaineering capabilities.”
About Ninety-Pound Rucksack:
Informed by an advisory board of the 10th’s foremost experts, Ninety-Pound Rucksack details a different chapter in the 10th Mountain Division’s history with each episode, providing a sweeping overview of the unit’s influence on both American military and outdoor recreation industry. The podcast, which has been featured in The Sharp End, The Runout, National Parks & Traveler, The American Alpine Club and Mountain & Prairie, is serving as the real-time research for a book Beckwith is writing about John McCown, the 10th, and the dawn of outdoor recreation in America. It can be found at www.christianbeckwith.com.