Dog, missing for weeks, rescued from cliff near Castlegar

A pair of rock climbers save dog in dramatic rescue on Brilliant Bluffs

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

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

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

Almost every day Balahura or one of her friends or family members had 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, Balahura 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 climbing a cliff known as the Brilliant Bluffs Megawatt Route in the area where the dog had gone missing. They had discovered Stellar stranded on a rock ledge about 200 metres above the ground, about 40 metres down from the top of the cliff.

Jared Smith and Hannah Stephan were quite 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 — that they had along 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 and 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 says they were tied in and safe, so he wasn’t too nervous about falling.

Smith 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.”

Amazingly, a vet confirmed that other than being emaciated and covered with ticks, Stellar was OK.

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.

RELATED: VIDEO: Rescue operation successful above Brilliant



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, 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

PHOTOS: Procession lets Castlegar seniors know they are not forgotten

A car parade travelled to local seniors homes this week.

Columbia and Western Trail reopens to the public in Castlegar

A rockslide closed a section of the trail on March 25

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read