A Nighttime Climb to Glory Honoring the 10th Mountain Division

Sunday evening, February 18, 2024, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm 

Whiteface Mountain alongside two other locations in the United States will host the Ninety-Pound Rucksack Challenge, a tribute to the 10th Mountain Division’s signature action. The uphill ski event commemorates the 10th Mountain Division’s night-time assault on Riva Ridge in northern Italy which took place on the same date in 1945, a battle that was instrumental in leading the Allies to victory in Europe and bringing an end to World War II.

The climbs are put together by the 10th Mountain Alpine Club (“10th MAC”) comprised of Active Duty, Veterans and Civilians of the 10th Mountain Division that promotes mountaineering while honoring the Division’s heritage and the soldiers who follow in their footsteps.

After training for more than three years in the Adirondacks, Cascades, and Rockies, often carrying ninety-pound rucksacks, 10th Mountain Division soldiers were inserted into Italy’s Apennine Mountains to break Hitler’s Gothic Line, a fortified series of summits and ridges the Nazis had used to stymie Allied advances for more than 500 days. At precisely 7:00 pm, they began their surprise nighttime ascent of four different routes on Riva Ridge and took the German defenses on top, laying the groundwork from which victory was achieved in Italy.

Since the day it first opened January 25, 1958, the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center has been dedicated to veterans of the 10th Mountain Division, and this ski mountaineering event, the Ninety-Pound Rucksack Challenge, honors the legendary Division while paying tribute to its monumental contributions to the Allied war effort as well as the growth of the post-war outdoor recreation industry.

Everyone with an interest in ski mountaineering is invited to participate in this special event. The route begins on the northwest side of the Base Lodge behind the Ski Patrol quarters and ascends the summit of Little Whiteface where a plaque recognizing the 10th Mountain Division is mounted on a large stone acquired from Mt. Belvedere in Italy. Participants will then descend on skis, returning to the base lodge by 9:00 pm.

Anyone with a 2023/24 Uphill Season Pass at Whiteface may join at no cost, and those without the pass may purchase an event ticket for $25*.

Event details are subject to change based on weather and conditions. For more details on the Whiteface Uphill Program and the Ninety-Pound Rucksack Challenge, click here.

* Please note that both the uphill ticket shown in the store and the email print-at-home/confirmation will display the incorrect time (the normal morning time). Instead, this is a singular evening event from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.