High avalanche danger; Also beware of thin lake ice
Snowmachiner falls through the ice into Fremont Lake
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
January 20, 2012
Details have not yet been officially released about the snowmobiler who fell through the ice near the shore of Fremont Lake Friday afternoon (Jan. 20th). The good news is that he apparently is all right. The bad news is that his snowmachine is at the bottom of the lake.
On Friday, representatives from the Forest Service, Wyoming Game & Fish and Sublette County Sheriff’s Office asked the public to be extra cautious if venturing out on ice-covered lakes, citing the unusual warm January melting conditions.
The thickness of lake ice can vary dramatically from place to place, even on the same lake. Some areas may have adequate thickness to hold the weight of a person, while other places may have ice that is too thin to be safe to go out on. With snow cover, it is difficult to see the condition of the ice. It is the responsibility of the individual to be aware of where they are and where they are going and not go into unsafe places. Going out onto a frozen lake surface is risky at all times, and conditions can vary greatly from lake to lake. Some of our lakes have underground warm springs that pump warm water into the lake and soften the ice cover even in the middle of the winter (for instance, Green River Lakes).
The Wyoming Game & Fish recommends drilling test holes as you go to make sure the ice is thick enough to support your weight. They also recommend going out using the buddy system, having a rope and rescue gear with you, and making sure someone knows where you are at all times. Keep an eye on children and your dog and don’t let them wander out onto unsafe surfaces. If you do fall through the ice into the freezing water, it can be very difficult to climb back out onto the slick ice surface. The Game & Fish suggested having a rope, an ice pick or screw driver close by as a tool to pull yourself out of the water. It was even suggested to tie such a tool around your neck so you always have it handy should you fall through the ice and need it to pull yourself out.
The public is reminded that Fremont Lake is the municipal water supply for the town of Pinedale. Because it is the town’s drinking water supply, dogs are not supposed to be out on or in the lake, in the water or when the lake is iced over.
Anyone who takes a motorized vehicle out onto any ice-covered lake is taking a risk with the danger the ice could break and they fall through. It is the responsibility of the vehicle owner to retrieve their sunken vehicle out of the lake should an accident occur.
The snowmachine that went into the lake on Friday sank near the south shore, which is the end of the lake where the Town’s drinking water intake feed is located. We have not yet heard from the Town as to what measures they may be doing regarding monitoring the water quality to see if there is any detection of leakage of oil or gasoline that might be getting into the drinking water supply due to the submerged snowmachine.