The tragedy near Tuluksak at the start of 2021 showed that traveling on the Kuskokwim Ice Road remains dangerous. On Jan. 5, Bethel Search and Rescue members flew the lower Kuskokwim upriver from Bethel to Kalskag, surveying ice conditions. They identified many areas of open water between Akiak and Kalskag that still need to be marked.
There are two open holes just below Tuluksak, and eight areas of open water between Tuluksak and Kalskag. Of note, there’s a large, unusually shaped stretch of open water 8 miles below Lower Kalskag. It looks like a whale’s tale, branching along two sides of a fork in the river. Volunteers have been working for several days to mark this open hole.
BSAR urges other search and rescue and tribal transportation groups to mark the open holes before another tragedy occurs. The open water that two snowmachiners drove into near Tuluksak is now marked, and all known open holes between Bethel and Akiak have been marked with blue reflective tape, indicating open water. You can find BSAR's full Kuskokwim Aerial Survey on Facebook.