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

Sooke fitness facilities reopen to the public

Extra measures set in place to ensure user safety

VIDEO: Neighbours help Sidney woman mark 103rd birthday with surprise parade

Barbara Chorlton celebrates her ‘best birthday so far’

Racism is here too, say Victoria’s black community leaders

White Victorians have role to play in combatting systems of oppression, prejudice

Shortage of foreign workers costs Saanich Peninsula berry farmer thousands

Gobind Farms says hiring local has been difficult during pandemic

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read