Ranger Stephen ‘Pete’ Peterson captured these intense blizzard conditions at the summit of Pike’s Peak in Colorado as he worked to get visitors stuck in the sudden storm to safety.
Heavy snow and winds up to 50mph caused icy roads and zero visibility. Stephen and his crew of calm rangers formulated a plan to safely rescue the 20-30 cars at the summit. The whole rescue took four hours but was 100% successful. No injuries!
His account of the day is below:
One of the most stressful days I’ve had at work in a long time.
Arrived at summit (just over 14,000′) at noon and BAM, a major storm erupts and we’re in blizzard conditions within minutes. Heavy snow and winds 40-50mph. We had 20-30 cars up on and near summit who were all leaving just as the blizzard arrived. Conditions worsened to the point where they all had to stop because the roads were icing up and no visibility.
I was working with a few other Rangers at the top and we found ourselves suddenly coming up with a plan to keep everyone safe. We went from vehicle to vehicle to inform them to stay there, keep the engine running and we’d be back to give them a ride into the Visitor Center. We took the elderly and families with young children in first and continued on for an hour or two….car by car. Some weathered the storm inside their cars and the others remained in the Visitor Center. 4 of us Rangers prayed together in the midst of the storm…at 14,115′.
45 minutes later, we get a break in the storm. I start plowing. I haven’t plowed in over 31 years…back to 1992 when I was in the Air Force and in Alaska. It’s a bit nerve-racking at first to plow snow right along side a cliff, but things came back to me quickly. Soon after, the Road Crew came up with a massive snow plow and worked their magic.
Some families chose to leave their vehicles there and ride the train down. Others, returned to their vehicle and drove down slowly. The entire ordeal lasted nearly 4 hours.
After all was said and done…no injuries! We were thanked and we were hugged…family after family. So blessed to work with an amazing team of professionals on the mountain…from the EMTs, to the Visitor Center Staff, to the other Rangers and to the Road Crew.
A blizzard on June 12th, 2023 on the summit of Pikes Peak. A day I’ll never forget!