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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

KUTE expands service to accept paper products

Prior to May 23 the facility had only been accepting cardboard since it reopened on April 22

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

Locals getting good grades when it comes to social distancing: RCMP

The local detachment said the public has been responsible with adhering to COVID-19 practices

Vancouver Island bride held wedding in seniors home so dying stepdad could walk her down aisle

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Yukon ready to lift COVID travel restrictions with B.C. in July: premier

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory’s health-care system can cope with the virus.

Most Read