Honoring the Legacy of the 10th Mountain Division

Photo: Pete Siebert Jr participates in the 2024 Ninety-Pound Rucksack Challenge at Ski Cooper, CO. Pete Siebert Sr. founded both Vail and Utah’s Snow Basin.

Event Date: February 18, 2025
Event Time: 7 p.m. local time in each participating location


The Ninety-Pound Rucksack Challenge is an annual ski mountaineering event commemorating the 10th Mountain Division’s historic World War II ascent of Riva Ridge. This ascent was a pivotal moment in the Allied victory in Italy and showcased the unique skills and tenacity of the Division. 

The first Ninety-Pound Rucksack Challenge took place at 7 p.m., on February 18, 2024, in three locations around the county: Whiteface Mountain, NY, where early incarnations of the 10th Mountain Division learned to ski; Ski Cooper, Colorado, where the 10th Mountain Division trained; and on Mt. Glory in Jackson Hole. The 10th Mountain Division’s motto was, and is, “Climb to Glory.” 

The climbs were put together by the 10th Mountain Alpine Club (“10th MAC”) and Ninety-Pound Rucksack, a podcast about the 10th Mountain Division and its impact on American outdoor recreation. 

More than 60 participants took part in the 2024 Challenge, which was open to the public. All participants were required to sign waivers prior to joining the climbs.

February 18, 2025 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Riva Ridge action. Accordingly, we are inviting ski areas with historic ties to the 10th to host the Challenge on their slopes. 


The 2025 Ninety-Pound Rucksack Challenge will be open to the public. Courses will be determined by participating ski areas. Participants will be encouraged to carry any amount of weight, preferably in the form of water that they can dump out prior to making their descents. Scales will be on hand to weigh their packs. 

All participants will be required to sign waivers prior to joining the climbs.


The US Army’s 10th Mountain Division was an unprecedented unit of expert climbers and skiers who trained for more than three years—often carrying ninety-pound “rucksacks,” or backpacks—to fight the Axis powers in extreme cold and mountainous terrain. In early 1945 they were inserted into Italy’s Apennine Mountains to break Hitler’s Gothic Line, a fortified series of summits and ridges that had stymied Allied advances for more than 500 days. 

To do so, the soldiers first had to take a feature known as Riva Ridge—an escarpment so precipitous the Germans considered it impossible for a company of soldiers to climb.

At 7 p.m., on February 18, ​​1945, some 800 10th Mountain Division soldiers began a night-time ascent of the wall. Carrying packs that weighed up to 50 pounds, they climbed via four different routes that ranged from 1,500 to 2,500 feet of vertical gain to take the Germans on top without a casualty. Their successful ascent not only cracked the Gothic Line; it precipitated the German surrender of Italy and hastened the end of the war as well. 

Post-war, 10th Mountain Division veterans started companies like NOLS and Nike, launched the fields of avalanche science and wilderness rescue and founded or developed more than 60 ski areas around America, including Aspen, Vail, Sugarbush and Arapahoe Basin.

Join Us

We invite organizations with ties to the 10th Mountain Division to join us in creating this meaningful event. Together, we can ensure that the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division continues to inspire future generations.

For more information, please contact Christian Beckwith at cb@christianbeckwith.com.

Climb to Glory!