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Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC) Bridgeport, CA

MWTC & Pickel Meadows

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!

About this Establishment

The MCMWTC is one of the Corps’ most remote and isolated posts. The 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 the Corps' ability to fight and win in mountain and cold weather environments.

MCMWTC conducts eight Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF)-level exercises per year, titled Mountain Warrior. The purpose of Mountain Warrior is to provide a training and limited assessment package that challenges the MAGTF and its subordinate elements to plan and perform critical tasks across the warfighting functions in cold weather and at medium to high altitudes in complex, compartmentalized terrain.

Current Training Programs at MCMWTC include:

1. Summer Mountain Leaders Course (SMLC)
2. Winter Mountain Leaders Course (WMLC)
3. Mountain Operations Staff Planners Course (MOSPC)
4. Mountain Medicine (MMED)
5. Cold Weather Medicine (CWM)
6. Mountain Survival (MSRV)
7. Mountain Scout Sniper Course (MSSC)
8. Mountain Command, Control, and Communications Course (MCCC)

Time Period Represented: 1951 - Present

Hours Open: Business Hours: Monday - Friday 7:30 am to 5:00 pm

Seasons Open: All

For More Information, Contact:

Rian Gamble

Community Planning & Liaison Officer
HC 83, Bridgeport, CA 93517

Alan Latta wrote on August 05, 2015: I went to Cold weather training at Pickle Meadows in Sept. or Oct. 1951 prior to shipping out to Wonson Harbor.

William B. Marshall wrote on May 09, 2015: I was at the old Escape & Evasion school and Cold Weather school in October of 1965 and November 1965, respectively. We flew into Fallon, NAS with the last of the old enlisted pilots in an R4D. Took the scenic route over out of El Toro. Great place. Would have loved to be stationed there but TAC Center wouldn’t let me go.

John Rebello wrote on February 11, 2015: I was with the very first group of Marines to take part in making up of the Aggressor Force. It was September 1951 when there were sheep herders in those mountains. The commander in charge was 1st. Lt. Richard Johnson. Our instructor camp was up into the mountain. Again the name of the outfit The Aggressor Force. We taught cold weather survival and cold weather warfare. We were the first to test thermal boots that were made in Bristol, R.I. I also made my way to Shorty’s Cabins. There were no quonset huts at the time. We had rubberized 3 man tents. Our group consisted of about 45 men. From the pictures I have seen, there are a lot of changes that have taken place. My memory of that place is that it was the coldest and snowiest winter on record. I don't think that there are many of the original people left. I am 83.

Robert Hoferer wrote on December 30, 2014: I was stationed there from 1961 through 1964. I have many good memories of my friends stationed there. Those days we referred to our past days as being of the "Old Corps". In ’64 everything in "the Corps" changed, almost 180 degrees, and it was NEVER the same Corps again. I would like to revisit "Pickle Meadows", but from the photos I think I will just retain the good memories I have of the 'old' base with the 'Quanset' barracks and the old TC Headquarters. I know a lot of the history of this base and I don't want it to be ruined by 'modern' attributes.

Bruce Stanley MSgt USMC Retired wrote on November 12, 2014: I spent six great weeks at MCMWTC in March 1983 as SNCOIC of CSSD3. Great camp, great Marines who helped us train and be safe. I carved my initials in the ceiling of the lodge at the end of the road at Pickle Meadows. I hope the lodge is still there and hope one day to be able to return and find my initials. I reenlisted there with a Lt (don't remember his name) and two majors from Indonesia, there on training.

donald j. capots wrote on December 21, 2013: I was there in December 1951 as a U.S.Navy Corpsman with the Marines bound for Korea. We were snowed in for three weeks.

Pat Michael Pepe wrote on April 15, 2013: I was one of many Marines to serve at Pickel Meadows. It is sad for me that many of the Officers names have been lost to me due to time and place. When I arrived at Cold Weather Camp it was far from being what you might call a legitimate camp as far as living quarters were concerned, Sadly I don’t see the name of Lt Barnett and his cocker spaniel dog Scrappy mentioned. Lt Barnett was in charge of the Aggressor Platoon that acted as the enemy force against the replacement Drafts from Camp Pendleton. As I remember liberty was not a nightly routine, although 72 hr passes were issued on weekends to Carson City, Reno, Gardnerville. As the camp grew we received the engineers and they started to build Quonset huts which made life bearable, sleeping bags were a valued asset. There later came a change in command in a Marine’s Marine by name of Col. Schmuck who I believe was instrumental in building the base and coming into the 20th Century as a Marine Base. I was moved from the Aggressors to Base Security as I had an MP spec number somewhere on this site I seen the pix of our main Gate Security Hut I have always respected the Colonel and sadly I learned that he passed away as is buried at Arlington as I Believe A Brig. Gen. He was a great commanding Officer I still have some pictures of some of our men. We were a welcome force in that part of the country the actor Rod Cameron was residing in that area, and while on gate duty Boston Red Sox Great Ted Williams along with Jerry Coleman Yankee Player. God bless the guys that made the founding of the camp along with Lt Barnett and Scrappy. Semper Fi

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Longitude: -119.511798600
Latitude: 38.357962400
Elevation: 6773 FT (2064 M)
Meet the Contributor:
Rian Gamble
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