Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel assisted a man who went through the ice as he was walking near the Mendenhall Glacier on Jan. 4, 2022, the department’s first ice rescue call of the new year. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel assisted a man who went through the ice as he was walking near the Mendenhall Glacier on Jan. 4, 2022, the department’s first ice rescue call of the new year. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

CCFR assists man who went through ice near glacier

It’s the department’s first ice rescue call of 2022.

Capital City Fire/Rescue assisted a man in his 60s who was partially submerged after going through the ice near the Mendenhall Glacier on Tuesday in their first ice-rescue call of 2022.

The man was submerged to his knees and needed help returning to the parking lot, said Assistant Chief Ed Quinto in a phone interview.

“He was out there by himself, in very cold weather, with unstable ice, too close to the glacier,” Quinto said. “There was water and slush on the ice, indicating that the ice conditions were not safe. It could be that there was a recent calving.”

[Easy on the ice: CCFR recommends caution around icy lakes]

The man, who authorities did not identify, was able to pull himself out, but experienced difficulties as he attempted to return to the parking lot at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. CCFR received the call at 11:20 a.m. and headed out, Quinto said.

“He said because of the cold and he was tired, he didn’t get too far,” Quinto said. “The four wheeler got there, picked up, and got out of there quickly.”

Once the man was recovered to the parking lot area, he was able to warm up with no lingering issues and drove himself home, Quinto said.

“It was -1 at the parking lot when I was standing there. So it must have been -10 at the glacier. With the wind chill, it was probably -35 or -40,” Quinto said. “It was very cold. He was very lucky not to succumb to the environment. Being on the ice is never a good idea, especially with the glacier that can calve at any time.”

CCFR’s position is that ice is never completely safe, Quinto said. Those venturing onto the ice should do so with at least one other person, and should do so with the equipment to self-recover if necessary, including a rope, ice cleats or spikes and a cellphone to call for help with, though reception in Juneau’s far corners, including the glacier, can be spotty, Quinto said.

The areas near the glacier and Nugget Falls are known for being particularly treacherous, said Assistant Chief Travis Mead in a prior interview, but anywhere on any lake can be dangerous if the right conditions are present. A dog already died after going through the ice late in 2021, Mead said.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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