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Richard Whittemore - For the Love of Skiing
Chapter 4 of this book provides an outstanding account of the Mt Rainier phase of 10th Mountain Division training during World War II.

Chapter 2 - Skiing Mt Lincoln (1934)

p. 29: In 1934, the author entered the first ("and probably the last") Rocky Mountain Kandahar Race at Berthoud Pass. The race employed a mass start, inspired by the mistaken idea that the famous Arlberg-Kandahar Race in Austria was run that way. The course ran from above timberline on the ridge north of Berthoud Pass, down to the West Portal road, 2,000 feet below. "Perhaps half a hundred of us climbed from the pass to the ridge," writes the author. "There we lined up elbow to elbow, ski tips hanging over the abyss." In the melee that followed, a racer crashed in front of the author and Whittemore dove over him into a snow bank. They both dug out and skied on to a late finish.

Chapter 3 - The Carnival Years

"Did those years seem so good just because we were young? I like to think it was more than that. We weren't present at the creation, but we were lucky enough to be on hand when the sport of skiing was new in America. For us it was fresh as apples in autumn. American skiing came of age in the thirties, and we came of age along with it. [...] Skiing was not yet an 'industry'. It was an amateur sport then."

Chapter 4 - "By Official Poop to the Mountain Troops"

p. 73: The author describes briefly the genesis of the U.S. Army mountain troops in World War II. He mentions some of the early recruits in the 87th Mountain Regiment, including Charlie McLane, Ralph Bromaghin, and Peter Gabriel. He provides lyrics to a song composed to the tune of "I love to dance..." from Disney's "Snow White":

A happy lad and just eighteen,
I got into the Army
By official poop to the mountain troops
So the Axis couldn't harm me.

Ho hum, I'm not so dumb,
The mountain troops for me,
Other guys can fight this war,
But I would rather ski.

The author arrived at Fort Lewis on January 2, 1942. He describes his basic training under Sergeant William P. Jones. He recalled that McLane, Bromaghin, and Lt. Dick Look started the 87th Glee Club while still at Fort Lewis.

p. 82: On January 31, 1942, Companies A, B and C of the 87th Regiment departed in trucks for Paradise on Mt Rainier. Lt. John Woodward was commander of Company A. Company D, the heavy weapons company, remained behind at Fort Lewis until early spring. Whittemore's room in the Tatoosh Lodge became the rehearsal room for the glee club (p. 84). Paradise Inn remained a civilian ski lodge throughout the winter.

Capt. Paul Lafferty, Peter Gabriel, Ralph Bromaghin and Olaf Rotegaard were effectively directors of the regimental ski school. Whittemore became one of twenty-five instructors working with about 400 officers and men. Sergeant Jones abandoned the slopes after his first day on skis, convinced that "there are a lot of us soldiers they'll never make into skiers."

The author describes the difficulty of teaching novices to become passable skiers (p. 90). Peter Gabriel tried to convince the instructors that the Swiss stem was better for skiers carrying heavy packs then the Arlberg abstem. Colonel Rolfe ordered a field exercise to evaluate how the men were coming along. John Jay made a film of it. Many men had trouble, so the Colonel ordered another exercise, this time on snowshoes. From this experience the glee club composed the ballad of Sven and his cousin Oola, one a snowshoer and the other a skier. Ultimately, the author and others concluded that it was not practical to make skiers out of enough soldiers to field whole regiments, or even battalions, capable of maneuvering and fighting on skis in alpine terrain (p. 106).

p. 97: The author describes the "Great Canteen Cup," a slalom race from Panorama Point to Edith Creek to contest the rivalry between Eastern and Western ski troopers. He also describes the 1942 Silver Skis Race in detail. Whittemore entered both races.

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Last Updated: Mon May 22 11:36:56 PDT 2006