Camp Hale Colorado – ski training, alpine training, CIA training, and the Colorado Trail


At CenterStone we support several philanthropic organizations that focus on the outdoors including Yellowstone Forever and Colorado Outward Bound School.  A former VP,  investor and dear friend to CenterStone — Brooks, was also instrumental in supporting the “Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), an influential effort to raise awareness of the environmental risks of glacial melt conducted by National Geographic photographer James Balog”. You can learn more about Brooks’ amazing life work here.

So when one of our teammates wanted to traverse +480 miles of rugged terrain while walking the Colorado Trail, solo, we all just understood.

Elaine Mahoney has been solo walking the Colorado Trail for the past 10 days and is now at Camp Hale.  Camp Hale has an incredible history in the annals of skiing. In 1942, this area between Leadville and Red Cliff, situated at 9,200 feet, was developed by the US Army as a training facility for what became the 10th Mountain Division. The ski soldiers were trained in all manner of survival and weaponry. At a high point, there were about 14,000 men and a couple hundred women living and training at the camp. The altitude, combined with the primary heating source — coal, caused an inversion layer to settle over the valley, making life even more challenging for those humans.

Camp Hale has had a role in operations-training for various groups including the CIA, Tibetans, Tibetan Khambas, and Hui Muslims. You can learn more about that here. Some building footprints can still be seen at the camp today. Since 2003, the Army Corps of Engineers has been on a cleanup effort to remove some of the unexploded ordinance still there.

Camp Hale is on segment eight of the Colorado Trail, and this is where we find our colleague Elaine. Last night in Denver, we had incredibly swift-moving rain and hail storms. This type of weather is pretty typical for us and we know it can change quickly. It was difficult to wait for an update from Elaine, as we saw the heavy winds and hail storms approaching, but, by morning there was information to let us know how she’s progressed.

“Most amazing day today but no svce here in this gulch tonight, too low. So you’ll get this early tomorrow when I get down to Camp Hale. Just when I thought it would be a dry night I hear thunder up the valley. Sweeping huge views today as the trail went from circ to circ for about 8 miles then finally got to the famous Kokomo Pass.  Coming down was classic high country splendor! Big high mountain range far out, lovely wind down through a beautiful valley with water. Camp Hale is only about 5 miles down so the 10th mountain guys trained in a mighty beautiful environment. Button up here comes the ☔”

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