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

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Sun and heat continue Saturday

Environment Canada forecasts highs of 30 C throughout the Okanagan Saturday

Unisus students raise money for Summerland Food Bank

Students in Grades 4, 5 and 6 hold food drive and bake sale

Summerland Community Policing asks for volunteers

Members conduct patrols and assist with speed watch checks

Summerland street banner designs to be unveiled

Community has displayed summer banners downtown since 1998

Summerland cafe operators share a passion for good food

Cafe and the fruit stand both have a long tradition in the community

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Vernon seeks additional fetal alcohol syndrome support B.C.-wide

“We are making a difference but we could make even more of a difference”

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Gambler 500 hits Okanagan back roads

Hundreds of off road enthusiasts are rallying in the South Okanagan this… Continue reading

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Most Read