On Thursday, January 9, the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum will present a special screening of Chris Anthony's documentary Climb to Glory: The Legacy of the 10th Mountain Ski Troopers at Vilar Performing Arts Center at Beaver Creek. Anthony's film featuring interviews with 10th Mountain Division veterans and re-creating some of their most famous adventures was produced in partnership with the museum and Warren Miller Entertainment, and won the Audience Choice Award when it premiered at the Vail Film Festival in March 2013.
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"The original idea was that I wanted to reenact the Trooper Traverse from 1943, when a group from the 10th Mountain Division did a trek over from Camp Hale to Aspen to party at the Hotel Jerome, but the Forest Service wouldn't allow me the permits to go film it," Anthony says. "By that point I'd gotten so interested in and invested in telling some new stories about these guys that we decided to go ahead with the film, anyway."
Anthony pitched the idea to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard History Museum, home of a large collection of World War II-era 10th Mountain Division artifacts, and to his long-time filming partners at Warren Miller Entertainment. As he began conducting his first interviews with 10th Mountain Division veterans at a reunion event, he realized he had a much bigger project on his hands than he'd originally conceived.
"There was some urgency to this project because these guys are literally disappearing by the day, and I was fortunate to be able to convince the Warren Miller Entertainment crew to bring some cameras," Anthony says. "Once we started interviewing the actual vets, as many of them as we could, that's when everybody really started to get on board. Before that I was practically begging for money to make this film, but once that interview content started coming out, the whole project really started to pick up some momentum. In the end we did twelve hours of interviews, and we've only tapped into a tiny bit of what these guys had to say. Their stories are just absolutely incredible."
A seven-minute segment of the documentary appeared in Warren Miller Entertainment's 2012 film Flow State. The cut being screened at Vilar Center is 45 minutes long, focusing on both the veterans' war stories from Italy and other WWII battlegrounds and on the local angle: The 10th Mountain Division lived and trained at Camp Hale, in the area now known as Ski Cooper, and some of the veterans were instrumental in building Colorado's ski industry after returning from the war.
"The film we've ended up with is a tremendous tribute to these veterans and a new angle on a great story from the Greatest Generation," Anthony says. "Here in the Vail Valley, younger skiers and snowboarders might know about the 10th Mountain Division Huts system, or may have dined at the 10th at Vail, or maybe have seen the various statues commemorating the 10th Mountain Division, but there was a real sense that some of the real stories were not known and were in danger of being lost and forgotten. These were men whose passion for the mountains was unrivaled, and it was an honor to help share their history."
To further explore the legacy of his forefathers, Anthony tried skiing with equipment from their era.
"There's definitely some Warren Miller-esque humor where myself and some other contemporary athletes are absolutely humbled by the gear these guys were using, which made for an even deeper appreciation of what they were able to accomplish in their day," he says. "These guys were true heroes."
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Tickets for Thursday's screening at Vilar Performing Arts Center start at $20 or $15 with a student ID. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for a silent auction benefitting the Colorado Ski & Snowboard History Museum; the film screens at 7:30 p.m.