Dog, missing for weeks, rescued from cliff near Castlegar

A pair of climbers stumbled upon lost pet during recreational climb.

After being rescued, Stellar was emaciated, but otherwise okay. (Submitted photo)

A Castlegar family is rejoicing after their dog who had been missing for more than three weeks was rescued by rock climbers.

Marissa Balahura had given up hope that her dog, Stellar, would be found alive.

Almost every day, Balahura or one of her friends or family members hiked up the Brilliant Overlook Trail near Castlegar looking for the 10-year-old pointer cross, since she had gotten lost on March 10 during a hike the family frequently makes.

On April 2, she trekked up the trail one more time — this time looking for her dog’s remains.

But then her cell phone rang. The voice on the line asked, “Are you missing a dog?”

The call was coming from a pair of rock climbers on a cliff known as the Brilliant Bluffs Megawatt Route in the area where Stellar had gone missing. They had discovered her stranded on a rock ledge about 200 metres above the ground and about 40 metres down from the top of the cliff.

Jared Smith and Hannah Stephan were surprised when they came across a dog towards the end of their climb.

Smith first tried to cradle the dog in his arms while making his way up, but Stellar was nervous and he was afraid she might try to wriggle free.

Stephan then came up with the idea of trying to put the dog in their rope bag – a large Ikea shopping bag – they had in their pack.

“I put the dog in the rope bag,” explained Smith. “Pretty much it was just us, inching this dog up by climbing a bit, inching the dog up. With Hannah holding the rope, I’d climb up a bit up more, then push the dog up.”

As they were climbing, the dog’s nails pierced through the bag.

“I was scared the bag was going to rip open, so I pretty much supported the bag with one arm while trying to climb up with the other one,” added Smith.

The climb is a fully-bolted eight-pitch sport route, and Smith said they were tied in and safe, so he wasn’t too nervous about falling.

He was amazed by the stroke of luck that put them in the same place as the dog, being able to read the phone number on the dog’s collar that was badly worn, and then discovering the dog’s owner was already nearby.

The pair had also originally planned their climb for later in the week, but a look at the weather forecast moved their plans forward.

RELATED: Bertie the ‘Wonder Dog’ survives 11 days on B.C. mountain

“If the rain hadn’t been coming and we missed our chance, I don’t think we would have found a live dog,” said Smith.

When they finally reached the top, Balahura was there waiting for them.

“I was able to be there when they pulled her over the edge,” she said. “I was sobbing.

“They totally saved her life. The way she looks now – I can’t imagine how much longer she could have lasted up there.”

A vet confirmed that other than being emaciated and covered with ticks, Stellar was okay.

Balahura is looking forward to the day when her constant companion can once again join her hiking, trail running, biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Hannah Stephan (left) and Jared Smith rescued a family pet from off of the Brilliant Bluffs, near Castlegar seen here in the background. (Submitted photo)

Stellar before she was lost for three weeks. (Submitted photo)

The red dot marks the spot where Stellar was found. (Submitted photo)

Just Posted

Video: Shuswap Search and Rescue help injured mountain biker

North Vancouver woman falls on trail in North Shuswap

Police request public’s help after cat shot in North Shuswap

Chase RCMP seeking information, small calibre bullets lodged in shoulder of pet

Hornets take home gold at Interior Spring League Playoffs tournament

The tournament consisted of seven teams from Kamloops to West Kelowna

Letter: Residents urged to vote for kitchen for Outdoor School

Voting goes until June 23 to receive $100,000 for South Canoe

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mainly sunny

Environment Canada is calling for a chance of showers tomorrow across the Okanagan

BREAKING: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Beloved South Okanagan baker dies

Beloved baker Ben Manea died suddenly on June 15, bakery to operate for one final week

Knife-wielding man robs South Okanagan pizza shop

RCMP are looking for the suspect who was wearing a ski mask

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

B.C. high school withdraws notices for temporary dress code

Parents previously told the Interior News they felt there was inadequate consultation over the rules

Rockets ready to take flight at upcoming NHL draft

A handful of Kelowna’s best could hear their name at the draft starting Friday

Leave your dogs at home, they can’t take the heat

Kelowna police responded to six reports of dogs left alone in hot cars this month

Okanagan College’s Women In Trades Training program celebrates 1,000 students

Since 2009, WITT has trained approximately 100 women each year

Arrested suspect connected to string of Okanagan robberies

Man arrested after failed robbery at Enderby store may be involved in four other such crimes

Most Read