Steep, Terrifying 'Ice Chute' Causes Four-Tundra Pileup and Strands a Fifth
Of all the phrases I least want to hear to describe a road I’m on, “ice chute” is near the top. Yet that’s how the Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery group describes this steep mountain pass that caused the kind of four-Toyota-Tundra pileup you’d expect to see in civilization rather than out in the wilderness. Getting all four trucks out of trouble and helping a fifth Tundra with them was a truly complex and fascinating operation.
The five trucks were driving on a trail just south of Almagre Mountain in Teller County, Colorado when they reached a particularly steep downhill section. According to Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery, the truck at the back of the group was able to stop a few hundred feet behind the treacherous section of road, but the other four weren’t so lucky.
Jessica Elizabeth, who helped with the recovery, posted on Facebook that heavy traffic on the trail had melted the snow, at which point it re-froze into an ice sheet. The four Tundras at the front of the pack hit the ice sheet, which was on a roughly 30 percent grade, causing them to lose any hope of steering or stopping.
Members of the volunteer recovery squad went to great lengths to avoid adding to the wreckage on the trail, which member Doc Bunger confirmed on Facebook was the largest pile-up they’ve ever responded to.
The Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery group says that all of the responder vehicles had chains on all four of their tires. The effort took seven team members on-scene, one radio monitor and three dispatchers for a combined 136 man-hours of work.
The rescue mission lasted from roughly 7 a.m. on Sunday until the last responder got home around 11 p.m. Untangling the conga line of Tundras involved a complicated series of winches and redirecting pulleys called snatch blocks.
Fortunately, the Tundras were able to drive themselves back down the rest of the trail once they were apart and off the ice sheet. Either way, it’s a good reminder to be careful out there, and be sure to prepare for possibly changing conditions. Chains are a good idea, folks.
The recovery group is a volunteer-led non-profit run completely off of donations, so there was no bill for the recovery. You can see more photos of the recovery effort in Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery’s Facebook album here.
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