VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – Most visitors making runs at Vail Resort Tuesday probably didn’t know they were sharing trail space with a living legend.
At age 92, Hugh Evans is a World War II veteran who trained at the famous 10th Mountain Division in Colorado before going on to battlefields in the high snowy mountains in the European theater.
“It’s a joy to get on the skis,” Evans told CBS4. “Coming back here I’m just so fortunate that I’m physically fit enough to be able to come up here. I’ll be 93 (in) March.”
The anniversary of the Battle of Riva Ridge is Feb. 18, so a group of 10th Mountain Division family members try to plan the reunion around that date every year.
But this year only one original member of the 10th Division was able to attend.
Evans is a Boulder resident, and along with several 10th descendants — including Vail’s founder’s descendant Pete Seibert Jr. — he was able to ski with this tightknit group.
“The descendants are doing a wonderful job of carrying on the traditions of the 10th Mountain Division,” he said.
Unfortunately, the number of vets have dwindled during the last several years.
“Jimmy died last June. So, yes, I’m the only veteran skiing this year,” Evans said.
Evans says the war changed him, but the friendships he made have lasted a lifetime.
“I join the 10th and August of 1943 and we can trained at Camp Hale through June of 1944,” he said.
“(We were) hiking all over these hills on skis.”
In the decades since World War II the mountains over the Vail Valley haven’t changed much, but the skiing certainly has, and much of that change is thanks to the men of the 10th Mountain Division.
“They are the ones that started almost every ski resort after World War II that was a new one,” he said.