Episode 8: Gear Heads, Part 1 is the first segment of our two-part mini-series that examines the equipment, clothing and food developed, at great expense, for the 10th Mountain Division. Not only did this development make the soldiers’ ability to train for cold-weather and mountain offensives like Riva Ridge possible; post-war, it catalyzed the explosive growth of America’s nascent outdoor recreation industry as well.

The episode includes interviews with Ninety-Pound Rucksack Advisory Board Members:

Civilian Collaboration and Committees:

  • The episode examines the unprecedented collaboration between two civilian organizations, the National Ski Association and the American Alpine Club, alongside the Army’s Mountain and Winter Warfare Boards and the Office of the Quartermaster General

National Ski Association’s National Volunteer Winter Defense Committee:

  • The episode unveils the inception and significance of the committee, which was formed in November 1940 to assist the army in technical training, equipment selection, and home defense.

Profiles of Key Figures:

  • Bestor Robinson: attorney, Sierra Club board member; pioneering bigwall climber and ski mountaineer; Chair of the National Ski Association’s Advisory Committee on Equipment 
  • Walter Wood: geographer; Vice President of The American Alpine Club, and Chair of its National Defense committee; expeditionary mountaineer
  • Bob Bates and Bill House: Climbing backgrounds and roles in the Research and Development Branch at the Office of the Quartermaster General

Mountaineering Adventures:

  • Detailed accounts of historically significant ascents from the pre-war era, including Bates ascent of Mt. Lucania in 1937 with Brad Washburn and the K2 attempt in 1938 by Bates, House, Paul Petzoldt and others
  • Exploration of Bill House’s 1936 first ascent of Mt. Waddington in the Coast Range of British Columbia nd Devils Tower in Wyoming, both with Fritz Weissner

Acknowledgments and Support:

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