The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC) was established in 1951 as a Cold Weather Battalion with a mission of providing cold weather training for replacement personnel bound for Korea. After the Korea conflict the name was changed to the Marine Corps Cold Weather Training Center. As a result of its expanded role it was renamed the 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 to a full-time command on May 19, 1976. Today, trainees typically head for the mountains of Afghanistan, where mountain warfare expertise again is a top priority.
Thousands of trainees each year from all branches of the U.S. armed forces, as well as from nations such as Britain, Norway, Sweden, Chile, Peru, Israel, Argentina, Netherlands, Kyrgyzstan, Canada, and Germany have completed courses since 2001. Instructors from Mountain Leader courses have also deployed to Afghanistan to train the Afghan army.
The MCMWTC is currently staffed with approximately 250 Marines and 50 Civilian-Marines, all permanent personnel. When training units are present, as many as 1,700 personnel are on-board.
MCMWTC is located on California Highway 108 at Pickel Meadow. The center is 21 miles northwest of Bridgeport, CA, and 100 miles south of Reno, NV. The center occupies 54,000 acres of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest under management of the U.S. Forest Service. A letter of agreement between the Forest Service and the Marine Corps permits the use of the area to train Marines in mountain and cold weather operations.
Elevation on base ranges from about 6,800 feet to nearly 11,500 feet above sea level, making it an exceptionally dry climate (15-30 percent humidity). Winters are harsh and long, typically providing six to eight feet of snow pack for trainees to maneuver in the snow on skis, snow shoes, and build snow caves. Summers are moderate and breezy, though temperatures can reach into the 90s.
For scenic value, few places can compare to MCMWTC and the surrounding areas. Yosemite National Park is only an hour south of the base, and Lake Tahoe is about two hours to the north. Numerous lakes and streams are in and around the base, and the surrounding region is known for trophy-trout fishing and outdoor recreation.
For the outdoor adventurer, this is paradise. Bachelor housing is located on base and boasts the best mountain views of any Marine Corps military housing anywhere!