Breaking News
More () »

Portland's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Portland, Oregon | KGW.com

'Lucky to be alive': Kayakers capture harrowing close encounter with collapsing glacier on video

A sensational video shared online shows the collapse of a massive glacier in Alaska.
(Josh Bastyr @steeringsouth via ViralHog)

A sensational video shared online shows the collapse of a massive glacier in Alaska and the two men who had an up-close encounter with a powerful force of nature that left them feeling lucky to be alive. They were also lucky to capture the epic moment on camera.

The two kayakers, Josh Bastyr and Andrew Hooper, who operate the YouTube channels Steering South and Home With the Hoopers, respectively, ventured out near the glacier on Saturday, Aug. 10. The two men took a one-night camping and kayaking trip to Spencer Glacier. Spencer Glacier rises about 3,500 feet above the glacial lake and encompasses royal-blue icebergs in the Chugach National Forest, located just 60 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska.

After the two set up camp, they hit the glacial lake to kayak around the surrounding area. Following a 1.5-mile journey to the glacier, the two heard calving in the distance, Bastyr, who according to his YouTube page hails from Wisconsin, said in the video”s caption.

“We keep hearing calving happening and big splashes happening,” Bastyr explains as he narrates the video while moving closer to a giant glacier. “It sounds like a gunshot going off.”

The two decided to investigate the sounds and ultimately “came face-to-face with one of nature”s most awesome forces,” Bastyr writes on YouTube.

“We”re going to try to get over to where we think it”s happening. It looks like that”s where it just happened,” Bastyr said with the camera pointed toward the majestic mass of ice.

(Josh Bastyr @steeringsouth via ViralHog)

As the two kayakers sat in the water in front of the glacier, large chunks of ice continued to drop into the water, pushing waves of water toward them. “It”s just popping and buckling,” Bastyr said.

More water and larger chunks continued to splash into the water below, as both kayakers looked on in awe of the spectacle.

“Man, when that whole thing goes ...” Bastyr said, almost on cue as the massive glacier began to crumble apart. In almost slow-motion, the mass broke apart and fell into the water in front of the two kayakers.

Huge waves and an enormous splash sent a spray of water in their direction.

“Oh my God, look at it,” Bastyr can be heard saying as he furiously paddles away from the scene. “Oh my God. Oh my God, we”re lucky to be alive right now.”

The huge waves forced the two to retreat to safety, but Bastyr managed to turn his camera backward to catch the glacier rising up out of the water.

Some viewers may be quick to point out that the two were too close to the glacier for their safety, and Bastyr does not disagree.

“It was the most intense thing I have ever experienced. We know we were way too close, and that we are lucky we didn”t get hurt,” Bastyr writes.

In a post on Facebook, Hooper marveled at how the experience unfolded. “What started as a peaceful glacier exploration at Spencer Glacier quickly turned into the biggest adrenaline rush of our lives,” he said. “We are so grateful to be alive and in total awe of the power of nature and that we got to witness this massive calving.

Temperatures in Alaska have been above normal for most of the summer months.

The temperature in Anchorage soared to 90 F on Thursday, July 4, shattering the city”s all-time record-high temperature by 5 degrees. Several other places in Alaska set all-time or daily records on the same day.

“July and into the first half of August have been running 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in Anchorage and 4.4 F above normal at Seward, Alaska, a couple of places near the Spencer Glacier,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Paul Walker. “Temperatures will continue to run above normal through the weekend.”

It is likely that the ongoing above-normal temperatures are causing the glaciers to calve at a higher rate than usual, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

Massive glacier collapse sends tourists fleeing at famous lagoon in Iceland
Larger than Manhattan-Size Iceberg Breaks Away from Greenland Glacier
Scientists make unsettling new discovery about Earth”s glaciers