10th Mountain hut near Leadville to be renamed after fallen soldier
SUMMIT COUNTY – Members and friends of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association will gather today to commemorate a fallen soldier by renaming the Belvedere Hut near Leadville in his honor.
Association staff and about 150 donors who contributed to the purchase will place a plaque bearing the name of Sangree M. Froelicher above the front door of the hut.
The association purchased the hut, located about 20 miles from Copper Mountain (six miles north of Leadville) on the eastern boundary of the association’s hut system, from private owners. The hut was built in 1988 in cooperation with the association. But last year, another private party made an unsolicited offer to buy the hut.
“We knew that if the offer was accepted, that it would no longer be a 10th Mountain hut,” said Ben Dodge, executive director of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, based in Aspen. “That wasn’t acceptable.”
The fundraising call went out, and 146 donors from 22 states, the District of Columbia and Spain responded, including donations from the Gates Family Foundations, other family foundations, Froelicher’s family, and even Kansas Sen. Bob Dole.
Dole served in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy and was wounded a few days after the new hut’s honoree was killed.
In all, the donors raised all but $24,000 of the $900,000 needed to match the offer on the hut.
“The neat thing is we get more than just a hut,” Dodge said. “The price includes land surrounding the hut, and we’re turning the first floor into an alpine resource center to educate student groups on backcountry stewardship.”
The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association was formed by surviving veterans of the Army unit, which served in the Appennine Mountains of Italy and the Aleutian Islands during World War II.
The unit, known as “soldiers on skis,” trained at Camp Hale near Leadville and suffered 975 casualties and 3,891 wounded. Staff Sgt. Froelicher was killed March 4, 1945, near Sassomolare, Italy.
The association boasts 13 huts, which provide enthusiasts with opportunities to explore the backcountry in avalanche-free areas.
“We want to promote good stewardship and self-reliance,” Dodge said. “And this dedication has tremendous meaning for so many people.”
The trail head to reach the new hut is located between mile markers 4 and 5 on Highway 91 between Copper Mountain and Leadville. The hut is about 3.5 miles from the trailhead. The dedication is scheduled for noon today.
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