Updated Jan. 29, 2020: The Jeep has been freed.
A small army of fellow four-wheel-drive adventurers helped pull it from the ice on Tuesday. Colby Davis shot an excellent video is which now posted on YouTube: click here.
Meanwhile, another member of the group posted on Facebook an aerial photo of why it’s a good idea not to get too close to these glaciers no matter how you’re traveling – by Jeep, by snowmachine, by fat bike, by skis, on foot….
The pressure ridges to the right of the trapped Jeep are caused by the glacier pushing into the Knik River lagoon. The area of active ice is far less stable than the ice on the lagoon itself.
Why the Jeep didn’t quickly disappear from sight after falling through the ice remains something of a mystery. A riverboat operator who was in the lagoon in summer reported the fathometer on his boat was showing water 500 feet deep in the area.
Everyone was reported to have escaped safely from a Jeep that ended up in the Knik River lagoon while adventuring near the Knik Glacier on Sunday.
Photos of the half-sunken Jeep were all over social media by evening, but the driver and passengers remain unknown.
The fall through the ice comes at a time when many have been talking about the growing dangers of recreationists flocking to the faces of winter-accessible glaciers north and south of Alaska’s largest city.
Attention has focused on skaters, skiers, hikers and fat bikers on Portage Lake, and snowmachine operators, fat bikers and skiers in the Placer River valley about 50 miles southeast of the Anchorage and the Knik valley some 50 miles northeast of the city.
People power themselves across Portage Lake to the Portage Glacier once the lake freezes over. Elsewhere, snowmachines usually set the trails to the Skookum and Spencer glaciers in the Placer valley, and the Knik Glacier at the head of the Knik River.
Fat bikers and cross-country skiers, sometimes mobs of them, flow in on the snow-packed trails. Wheeled-vehicle access is usually blocked by the November and December snowfalls.
That didn’t happen in 2019, the warmest year in Alaska’s recorded history. It rained as much or more than it snowed in the normally snowy months of November and December.Many lakes and rivers remained unfrozen or only partially frozen as the New Year approached.
For the first nine days of the month, the warmest temperatures of the day remained below the normal low. It warmed up a little after that, but Anchorage has now gone 27 days without reaching a normal daily high, according to the National Weather Service.
As of Sunday, the monthly temperature average was 12 degrees below zero, and though almost 17 inches of snow had fallen, it was light, fluffy and in many places quickly settled out to less than a foot.
With shallow snow and temperatures down to 20 degrees below zero making ice all across the region, at least one of the glaciers clearly became accessible from the comfort of a warm Jeep.
At least until it wasn’t comfortable.