7 people stranded at SW Alaska fishing camp after Yukon River freezes, troopers say

By Tess Williams

Updated: November 3, 2021 Posted: November 2, 2021

Seven people remain stranded at a fishing camp near Emmonak after the Yukon River froze late last week, Alaska State Troopers said.

The group returned to Pilot Station from Emmonak and stopped at the fishing camp on Thursday evening, trooper spokesman Austin McDaniel said. The camp is on the Yukon River about 20 miles east of Emmonak in southwest Alaska. The group had planned to take off on Friday, but the river froze over and they couldn’t leave due to icy conditions, McDaniel said.

“The ice is just too thick for us to run any sort of boat on the ice, however, the ice is too thin to support a snowmobile or any type of vehicle on the ice,” McDaniel said. “And there are no land routes to get to this area.”

The group had shelter, heat and supplies and communicated with the soldiers using an InReach device, the soldiers wrote in a online alert. Food and medicine were airdropped at the camp on Sunday with the help of Grant Air, soldiers said.

The ice prevented the group from leaving on their own, and McDaniel said bad weather in the area prevented rescuers from reaching them by air for several days.

“That includes some really bad turbulence between Anchorage and the area, and then pretty thick ice fog as well in the area, which creates some pretty drastic icing issues,” McDaniel said.

There was no immediate danger as the group has supplies and shelter, but soldiers are working with other search and rescue groups to find the best way to transport the group from the fishing camp, McDaniel said.

“At the moment our goal is to find some kind of helicopter in the area that can respond to this area,” he said.

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