USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center
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  1. #1

    USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center

    http://www.mwtc.usmc.mil/





    The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Centers Mission

    The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC) is one of the Corps most remote and isolated posts. The Center was established in 1951 as the Cold Weather Battalion with a mission of providing cold weather training for replacement personnel bound for Korea. After the Korean Conflict, the name was changed to the "Marine Corps Cold Weather Training Center." As a result of its expanded role, the Center was renamed "Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center" in 1963. MCMWTC operated on a full-time basis until 1967 when it was placed in a caretaker status as a result of the Vietnam War. The training Center was reactivated as a full-time command on 19 May 1976. Today, MCMWTC is the premier institute for training in mountain and cold weather warfare. MCMWTC is located on California Highway 108 at Pickel Meadow. The Center is 21 miles northwest of Bridgeport, California and 100 miles south of Reno, Nevada, on 46,000 acres of the Toiyabe National Forest. Under agreement with the US Forest Service the Marine Corps uses the training area to instruct US and international military personnel in mountain and cold weather combat operations. The Center is located at 6,762 feet, with elevations in the training areas ranging to 11,459 feet. During the winter season (October - April), snow accumulation can reach depths of six to eight feet. Further, severe storms can deposit as much as four feet of snow in a 12 hour period. Annual temperatures range from +90 degrees to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

    MCMWTC conducts formal schools for individuals and battalion training in summer and winter mountain operations. The training emphasizes development of both individual and unit mountain skills with primary emphasis on enhancing overall combat capability. Marines at the Center are also involved in testing cold weather clothing, equipment, human performance, rough terrain vehicles, and developing doctrine and concepts to enhance our Corps' ability to fight and win in mountain and cold weather environments.


  2. #2
    Been there, done that.

    17 foot of snow in 1963.

    Snow holes don't keep you warm, they just keep you alive.

    Officers were allowed to take a bottle of rum.

    Snow shoes to climb and hickory cross-country skis on the return. (Back then)

    Had to build a fire to warm my fingers to tie my boots.

    Went head first off a mountain ridge into the snow at least 35 to 40 feet below. Hard climb out and up with the skis on.

    Stomach size after training---about the size of a walnut.

    If you get a chance to go, do it! But you'll hate winter and snow for the rest of your life.

    Pickel Meadows gets a five star rating from this critic.
    Did I mention a frozen brain?


  3. #3
    I was hoping that someone else would jump in here with your experience at Pickel Meadows. I would like to here it. Maybe later.

    I'll tell a little more of mine, though long ago for those that may have a chance to live in the snow in the future.

    What I remember most is how cold I was at night.

    I had not been back from Nam all that long and I think my blood may have still been thin.

    We were given a 6" candle to glaze the inside of our snow hole.
    I used it for that then stuck it in the snow beside my sleeping bag for heat. That didn't work so well. The next morning I looked where my candle had been only to see a 1/2" hole that I could not see the bottom of. So much for candle heat.

    Some of the Officers somehow heard that I had been in Nam, (Was still a new thing to the Corps for the most part.) and they invited me to their area to have me tell about it. That's when I learned that they had the Rum "to help keep them warm". They offered me a swig as I told them about Nam as I lived it. Those college boys were good at snow holes. Their's had a single entrance that lead to all the indiviual sleeping holes. Looking back I could see the advantage to that. All their warm bodies sharing heat into one space.

    I remember the days being sunny and that the cold was never a problem. We were always on the move in snowshoes or on the skis. That part I did enjoy!

    Upon completion of training we left the high mountains and skied back to the base camp where we started out on the first day. They had prepaired a steak dinner for us complete with strawberry short cake. A few bites of each was all my stomach could hold.

    Well, at least I learned to ski and how to survive in the mountains.


  4. #4
    Registered User Free Member leroy8541's Avatar
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    Pickle Meadow, Bridgeport , what ever, we just called it Bridge port or hell on a hill the only thing I remember was the Pickle barrel, a tent set up for those thirsty souls after the training was over. They did however serve the steak and lobster dinner. I wonder agin if it is tradition within the corps to serve this meal when the chance someone is going to die, or seriously be injured. I know to this day when I am offered free steak and lobster my short hairs stand on end!!


  5. #5
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    How does one get to go to the Mountain Warfare Training Center?


  6. #6
    Squad Leader Platinum Member Zulu 36's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar
    How does one get to go to the Mountain Warfare Training Center?
    Primarily infantry units go to Mountain Warfare School, and often support units go along as well. Individuals can go to certain courses they hold, such as mountain leader courses, and at one time, mule skinner school. If your unit is tasked to go, you go. Once you have some time in, and your unit gets some slots for individual courses, you can volunteer for them.

    They do winter type stuff, such as cross-country skiing, cold weather survival and such in the - (wait for it) - winter.

    During the summer they primarily teach mountaineering skills. Rock climbing, rappeling, building ziplines, rope bridges, rigs to carry heavy loads (such as mortars, or when I was in, 106mm recoiless rifles) over gorges, etc. They also get into proper techniques for crossing fast running streams (which is testicle shrinking cold).

    I went in the late summer for mountaineering. Missed a winter trip (darn). Base camp then was old beat-up GP Medium tents that were not staked down correctly and lots of cold air got underneath. Day time was pretty nice.

    The hump to the training area from base camp was a ball-buster for me as I was not a grunt and my unit went with a grunt company and had to keep up. The grunt CO must have been a mountain goat in a previous life. He must have run most of the way there, up and down the column, all with a field transport pack on.

    We still had the old M-1941 pack system then. The hook from my pack that attached to the back of my cartridge belt came loose and rubbed a huge bloody sore on my back in less than an hour. Just one more day in the Corps.

    The rappelling was my favorite part. I fell while rock climbing, and although my belay man caught me, I failed to find much joy in climbing cliff faces anymore.


  7. #7
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    Wow that sounds really interesting. I'd love to go once I enlist. My whole family comes from the Tatra mountains and all of them men who served in the military were in the Podhale rifles, which are Poland's mountain infantry.


  8. #8
    Been there in the somertime. Was stationed nearby at MCB Hawthorn, Nev.


  9. #9

    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Zulu 36
    Primarily infantry units go to Mountain Warfare School, and often support units go along as well. Individuals can go to certain courses they hold, such as mountain leader courses, and at one time, mule skinner school.
    Aaaahhh yes, the A$$packer course.

    I did two summer packages with 3/4.

    Quite fun actually...


  10. #10
    Marine Free Member Quinbo's Avatar
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    I went to summer mountain leaders. The class started with 40 and graduated 11. Along with everything else mentioned we were taught glacier travel and ice climbing.


  11. #11
    Was there in 1953 for the course and then straight to Korea. Cold as hell and lots of snow. Not my most favorite place.


  12. #12
    The grunt CO must have been a mountain goat in a previous life.
    I had to laugh at this. I was there in the summer of '62 or '63 for survival school (It all kind of melds together when you are having so much fun.) The school was two weeks long and I gained four pounds. My team found a mountain lion kill (sheep) and being marines we appropriated it. I have never had a taste for mutton since, with or without mint jelly. The team went from a nineteen year old 2/Lt whom thank providence was junior to me, to a 46 year old staff sergeant who was pretty sedentary. Part of the curriculum was a long mountain trek, and keeping the lieutenant slowed down to the pace the SSGT could maintain was my first practical experience in applied leadership. I finally made him a scout to look for the enemy and sent him out ahead of us. Then all I had to worry about was staying in contact with him.


  13. #13
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    So your platoon has to get assigned to this? or do you volunteer?


  14. #14
    Does anyone know what the Insrtuctors course is like for any of these courses. Re-enlisting and thinking of going to be an instructor up there, looking for any information on it from any one who has had recent experience with the place. Thanks.


  15. #15
    Marine Free Member Quinbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Higgs
    Does anyone know what the Insrtuctors course is like for any of these courses. Re-enlisting and thinking of going to be an instructor up there, looking for any information on it from any one who has had recent experience with the place. Thanks.
    When I attended summer mountain leaders there was a student in our class that was slated to be an instructor. He was unable to complete the course and I'm not sure if he was recycled or sent back to the fleet. To answer your questions the instructors are initially trained to be instructors by completing the courses. I would guess they are mentored by other instructors for a while after that.


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