Earl Clark - Inspiration - 2001


Hall
Deciding to find out what it was like to slide down a hill with boards on his feet, Earl Clark started his skiing career at age thirteen on toe straps and galoshes for boots.  His first formal ski experience was on Wilmot Hills near Chicago and Rib Mountain at Wausau, Wisconsin. In the summer of 1936 after high school graduation, he traveled to Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone Park where his mountaineering life began. During the spring of 1941, as a charter member of the Chicago Mountaineering Club, Earl helped set up a high mountain ski camp in the Alaska Basin, the western back country of the Grand Teton National Park. In the fall of 1941 he enlisted in an experimental ski/mountaineering unit by the United States Army, later known as the 1st Battalion, 87th Mountain Infantry, the mother unit of the 10th Mountain Division. His first assignment as a Lieutenant at Camp Hale was as an officer supervisor of military ski training where he greatly improved his own skills by skiing with some of the world’s finest skiers and instructors. He left active duty early in 1946, retiring from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. In 1979, he was inducted into the United States Army’s Infantry School Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia, and on April 23, 1999 at Fort Drum, New York, he was named “Honorary Colonel of the Regiment” of his World War 11 unit, the 87th Infantry. Following the war, Earl moved from Chicago to Denver where he became a member of the National Ski Patrol and volunteered to lead the ski patrol at Arapahoe Basin during weekends. Earl was also a ski patrolman at Loveland, Berthoud Pass and occasionally at Winter Park. In 1971 Earl was instrumental in creating the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division and became its first National President. He held the position for seven years and then was honored to become the Chairman, Emeritus. He organized the “Pando Commandos”; a demonstration group on skis in the battle whites of the 10th Mountain Division for the Rocky Mountain Area. From 1979 to 1985 Earl played a major role in bringing together the mountain soldiers of Germany, Austria, Italy and France with the veterans of the 10th Mountain of the United States into the “International Federation of Mountain Soldiers” (I.F.M.S). For his valuable contribution Earl was decorated by both the German and Austrian associations with their “Goldene Ehrenadel”, their highest post-war award. Presently, Earl serves as the Senior Vice President for the 10th Mountain Division Foundation. The foundation was responsible for placing the 10th Mountain Division Memorial Monument on the summit of Tennessee Pass, Colorado. Earl also serves as an Honorary Board Member at the Colorado Ski Museum-Ski Hall of Fame. In 1985 Earl and group of five persons purchased the assets of the Over-The-Hill-Gang, a National Senior Ski Club.  Earl served as President two years later.  The organization grew to almost 2500 members. Over-The-Hill-Gang has introduced senior skiers to many American ski resorts as well as traveling to Europe and New Zealand ski areas. In 1992, the Over-The-Hill-Gang was passed on to a new corporation group. From those first runs on skis with toe straps, to the training of ski soldiers at Camp Hale, to traveling with seniors, the ski world, in all of its many facets, has been Earl’s life for 67 years. (Deceased January 2015)