Monday, July 22, 2019
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Soldiers on the Slopes

When 180 Special Forces soldiers show up on Crested Butte Mountain, it doesn’t go unnoticed. The 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from Fort Carson, Colo., was in town starting around January 5, and is due to head out to Taylor Park starting this week. They are here to learn all the ins-and-outs of cold weather survival, and traveling safely on snow using ski-touring gear and avalanche safety equipment. The group trained inbounds at the ski area and over on Snodgrass Mountain as well.
The 10th trains for and conducts combat, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, and foreign internal defense missions. More than 1,100 soldiers are assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson. The purpose of the group’s coming to train on Crested Butte Mountain and Snodgrass is “to get everyone in the battalion trained in the essentials of mountain warfare and cold weather training,” according to Major Karla S. Owen, Public Affairs Officer. “You never know where they are going to go,” Owen said. “They have to know how to do it [skiing and ski-touring] to get to some of these locations.”
According to Maj. Owen, the 10th group is considered one of the leads in mountain warfare training among the Army Special Forces. She said the SFG used to conduct the training every winter until September 11, 2001. They restarted the training program in winter 2009.
“Continuing a long history of cold weather training in Colorado, Crested Butte Mountain Resort was fortunate enough to host the second in a series of three training sessions for the soldiers of the 10th SFG,” said Kirsten Texler, CBMR spokesperson. ”Watching the discipline and focus of the soldiers, many who had never skied before, rise to more than competent level skiers and all-mountain masters was truly inspiring. This most recent visit saw more than 150 soldiers enthusiastically meet at the base of the mountain during some of the coldest mornings we’ve seen this season to train in all aspects of winter survival.”
Owen said the soldiers were treated exceptionally well by everyone they met. “I’ve heard nothing but great news,” Maj. Owen said. “The people have been great, they’ve been treated so well. And a lot of the group had never been to Crested Butte before.”
Crested Butte is an ideal training place, according to Maj. Owen, “Because it is a smaller locale, and they aren’t hindered by all the tourism, they can get their training done.” She also said most of the soldiers enjoy the on-snow training. “The ones who love the mountains and skiing absolutely loved it,” she said. “There are those who have never skied before and it’s harder for them…”
Overall, Maj. Owen said everyone really enjoyed the area and all were treated very well. “This also will bring more people into Crested Butte, because [the soldiers] will come back with their families and friends,” she said.
In addition to the group of 180 in Taylor Park this week, there is another group of 50 Special Forces soldiers arriving around January 26 to conduct similar cold-weather training at the ski area and on Snodgrass. As Maj. Owen said, “We just need to get everyone as familiar with the cold-weather environment, so they’re prepared for any contingencies.”

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