Filming the Camp Hale experience
April 25, 2011
CAMP HALE – There was a time when skiing didn’t include valet parking, high-speed gondolas, electronic boot heaters and hot coco at Two Elk Lodge. There was a time when skiing was just man, outfitted with rudimentary equipment, versus the mountain.Chris Anthony was on his annual assignment with the Warren Miller film crew last week. It is the 22nd consecutive year that the Vail native has been featured in the film, which will debut in the fall.This year’s task is to literally walk a mile in the shoes of the historic 10th Mountain Division soldiers at their original training grounds – Camp Hale, located about a half hour south of Vail, where 14,000 troops were commissioned by President Roosevelt to prepare for war in Europe.”This is a project I’ve been trying to put together for about five years to acknowledge the 10th Mountain Division,” Anthony said. “The Warren Miller guys said, ‘Wow, this is something important. We should definitely tell this story.'”Equipped with only the vintage gear used by the 10th Mountain Division (most of which is the actual gear from the 1940s, not reproductions), Anthony along with Scott Kennett and Vail native Tony Seibert were facing the elements – scaling up the jagged terrain and skiing down the mountains of the Continental Divide the way it was done 60 years ago.”Like everything else in this industry, we’re finding how many things in the industry are connected to these guys – the 10th Mountain Division,” Anthony said. “When they came back from Italy, they brought with them everything from ski schools and ski patrols, to commercial ski mountains and the evolution of the equipment. They came back and stayed involved in this whole passion for skiing.”The not-yet-titled Warren Miller film will feature interviews with the hard-nosed 10th Mountain Division veterans who trained at Camp Hale in the 1940s and fought in World War II. The segment will focus on their experiences as skiers and why they signed up for such a grueling experience.
Mother Nature didn’t make it easy for the Warren Miller crew, most of which camped out on location last week at Camp Hale. The late-April shoot was challenged with snow, wind and cold, more like a mid-February shoot. Anthony sustained frostbite on his fingers and ears, and was exhausted.He said the toughest piece of gear to work with is the boots.”There’s absolutely zero ankle support. So you’re skiing on the skinny wooden skis with these annoying bear trap bindings, which are basically like an AT binding, but there’s just nothing easy about them,” Anthony said.The setup hikes pretty well, once you get going. But when you get to the top, removing the skins is an arduous task that can’t be accomplished with gloves on. Even the backpack is a pain to open.”It’s like we’ve made every single thing easier because of what they went through. I’m learning to appreciate the design of everything,” Anthony said. “Skiing down, they’re not the greatest turning things at all. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is what those guys were on?”The best performing gear, he said, is the clothing, which is warm with good pocket placement, but it’s heavy and tough to climb in.”You can see where all the innovation came from. They had to start somewhere. You can really appreciate what those guys went through,” he said.One could speculate that somewhere there are fallen 10th Mountain soldiers looking down and having a good chuckle.The Warren Miller film will be released in the fall, as it is every year, and there will also be a longer educational documentary released in coordination with the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum in Vail.