Massive Crack in Melting Ice Tests the Kilchers on 'Alaska: The Last Frontier'

The Kilcher family was busy fighting the elements as they tried to pull thousands of pounds of equipment across a cracking river in Wednesday's 3-hour Alaska: The Last Frontier special.

During the first half of the Discovery network's in-depth look at the Homer, Alaska homesteaders, the family challenged with the task of moving an old tractor back across a frozen river before springtime.

But the Kilchers might have waited too long, and the ice had begun to melt in spots.

"When you hear cracks, it's not ideal," Jane quipped.

Patriarch Otto was chosen to pilot the tractor on log guides across the river, but even the steel-headed homesteader found the task daunting.

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"If you fall through the ice on a river, you're not coming back out until the seagulls find you in the summer," he said.

Fans held their breath as a huge crack began to open up under the tractor, but Otto, relying on years of experience decided to gun the engine and eschew the safety rig before they all went under.

As the tractor pulled up on the other side of the riverbank, a signature yodel went up from the crowd--at least until they realized they were still standing on the dangerous ice.

Letting out a stream of expletives, Otto said he was shocked his approach worked, but how the chore got finished didn't matter as long as everyone got to go home at the end of the day.

"I was really shook up," he said. "I was trying to settle down but I was also just relieved to be up on the river bank."

Alaska: The Last Frontier airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on Discovery.