Original Vintage U.S. Ames Ice Axe
Original Item: Only One Available. This is an excellent example of a U.S. Army World War Two Ice Axe manufactured by AMES. The ice axes were issued to the legendary 10th Mountain Division. The axe measures 36' in overall length, with a 13" head. It retains the steel ring and original leather wrist strap (so often missing). The base of the haft has a steel cup with spike. The cup is clearly marked U.S. AMES. These are very difficult pieces of mountain trooper equipment to find, and ones in clean complete condition are rare.
Born out of the sport of skiing, the WWII 10th Mountain Division was formed in 1943 and sent to Italy when the US Army identified that it needed an elite winter-warfare force to fight in the Italian mountains. Ironically, the idea of a winter-warfare unit did not originate within the U.S. Army, but was conceived by a man who was well-versed in history, had been in the military during WWI, and was adamant that a corps of “mountain troops” was vital to America’s national security. As founder and chairman of the National Ski Patrol, Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole, along with his Vermont friends, Robert Langley and Roger Livermore, often discussed and feared that AH could eventually invade the United States through the northeast like America’s enemies had done during the French and Indian War. At the beginning of WWII, Germany had three units
of mountain troops compared to none for the United States. In 1941, Dole, who borrowed the mountain troop concept from the Finnish, began a robust campaign to persuade the military to establish a winter-warfare force. As a learned man, Dole knew the Finnish had used ski troops to effectively fight Russia in its history. At this point, the U.S. Army was training its troops to operate in hot environments and the idea of ”winter troops” wasn’t even on its radar. Initially rebuffed by the military, Dole was tenacious and continued to write and phone Pentagon officials and President Roosevelt until Army Chief of Staff, General George Marshall, adopted Dole’s mountain-troop idea. In December, 1941, twelve officers and one enlisted man were deemed the 87th Infantry, Mountain, First Battalion, Reinforced and were sent to Ft. Lewis, Washington, where they and soon-to-be-recruits trained on Mt. Ranier. Lt. Colonel Onslow “Pinkie” Rolfe became the first commanding officer. After persuading the U.S. Army to develop a winter-warfare unit, Dole was eager to help and he and Langley, who was the then-acting president of the National Ski Patrol, offered the organization’s assistance in recruiting, training, and recommending ski equipment. In the early stages of its development, the 87th was an all-volunteer unit. To join, early recruits had to have three letters of recommendation and some type of “outdoors” experience/knowledge. Fifteen-thousand men applied, but only 8,000 were accepted. The “outdoors” criteria would later be dropped as the need for more recruits elevated as the war progressed. Initially, the “mountain troops” attracted mountain climbers, alpine guides, lumber jacks, forest rangers, black smiths, and skiers, including some famous European ones, who had migrated to the United States after war broke out on the continent. Skiers attending high-end U.S. universities also joined, many at the personal urging of Dole. These early recruits were nicknamed, “Minnie’s Ski Troops.” With a multitude of its recruits coming from U.S. Universities, the 10th Mountain Division would earn the distinction of being the Army’s most highly-educated unit, with many of its soldiers having above-average IQs.
Originally activated as the 10th Light Division (Alpine) in 1943, the division was redesignated the 10th Mountain Division in 1944 and fought in the mountains of Italy in some of the roughest terrain in the country. On the 5th of May 1945 the Division reached Nauders, Austria, beyond the Resia Pass, where it made contact with German forces being pushed south by the U.S. Seventh Army. A status quo was maintained until the enemy headquarters involved had completed their surrender to the Seventh. On the 6th, 10th Mountain troops met the 44th Infantry Division of Seventh Army.
The words "U.S. Ames Ice Axe'' are staped on the shell surface.
Shows some signs of use, age, and wear with some scratches and light surface corrosion. Overall in good condition.
Ice axe length: 96 cm
Full head length: 31.5 cm