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Extreme skier Chris Anthony grew up in the shadow of the 10th Mountain Division, the World War II ski troopers who trained in Colorado to fight in Europe.

He'd seen the memorials since he was child, but realized he didn't know the full story.

He learned their full impact during the making of "Climb to Glory," a documentary that traces the division's origins at a training camp in Colorado to the front lines in Europe, and to the origins of the ski industry back home.

Getting the documentary made was a five-year passion project for Anthony, who knew that members of the Greatest Generation were passing away and there was precious little time to gather their stories.

He eventually brought a crew to a reunion in Vail to conduct interviews.

"Those interviews were just powerful," Anthony said. "They make up a good portion of the story."

Tenth Mountain Division member Hugh Evans of Colorado, for one, described his sergeant dying in his arms in a foxhole, and leading a charge that took out two German bunkers.

In total, they tracked down 12 members of the 10th and gathered some 12 hours of interviews.

The interviews convinced Warren Miller Productions to come on board, along with Anthony's other partner, the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum.

Adding context to the story are interviews with historians.

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Anthony said the division was born when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was informed that the U.S. military didn't have troops specially trained for the mountainous environment in which the conflict was being fought in Europe.

Inspired by the success of Finnish ski troops against Russian tanks, the military commissioned a mountain division and built a training area, Camp Hale, at nearly 10,000 feet in the Pando Valley of Colorado, 30-some miles from where Vail is now located.

Anthony said the division was deployed into the war relatively late in 1944, and quickly had an impact – securing victories in northern Italy in 1945. In January of that year in the North Apienne Mountains, they held a mountain against German forces as U.S. troops hadn't yet before.

The successes came a price, and Anthony said the division suffered the largest amount of casualties in the shortest period of time.

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The other half of the impact of the 10th Mountain Division comes after the end of the war, when the troops came hope and joined civilian life.

Members of the 10th were responsible for the opening of more than 60 ski areas around the country, Anthony said, including Peter Seibert, founder of Vail Ski Resort.

They were also pioneers in outdoor gear and organizations – figures such as Paul Petzoldt, a mountaineer and environmentalist who created the National Outdoor Leadership School, and Bill Bowerman, who designed the first Nike shoe.

"They had a massive impact on our outdoor industry and our ski industry," Anthony said.

In a more lighthearted segment of the film, Anthony and some of the younger Warren Miller skiers "step back in time" and attempt to ski in the 10th's original gear.

Anthony said it "definitely made you respect them." By modern standards, the gear was "primitive" and "horrible."

Training in that gear certainly made you "feel a little bit wimpy," he said.

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