2 dogs, owner rescued from cliff on a Colorado ’14er’
Summit County Rescue Group ushers two dogs, Loki and Lilly, off Quandary Peak
People get stuck on Quandary Peak and need rescuing a couple of times each summer.
But on July 25, summit county search and rescue faced a situation unlike any other.
A couple of canines and their owners FOUND themselves in some dog-gone trouble.
Katrina Schutte and Clint Hess are used to hiking 14ers.
But a couple of weeks ago, they learned there was nothing routine about a hike in Summit County.
They got stranded and had to deal not only with dangerous heights, but exhausted animals, and a fierce storm.
Loki and Lilly chase after a tennis ball with abandon at White Tail Park in Lafayette Friday.
That’s how they started their trip up quandary peak with their owners last month. But it doesn’t end that way.
“Were making our way down and the dogs pretty much poop out and decide they’re not going to go anymore,” says Schutte.
They make a wrong turn and find themselves at the edge of a 200-foot cliff.
“At that point, I was, ‘Oh geez,” says Hess.
As they search for another way down, they find more trouble.
“It (backpack) slips off, falls down the cliff. There I am staring at our rain gear, cold weather gear, food and everything else. It’s at the bottom of this mountain,” says Hess.
Then, comes rain, thunder and lightning.
“We used the dogs as blankets all night. We both lay next to each other. The dogs on top. We did the best we could to stay warm,” says Hess.
Just to be perpetually cold that long is when fear set in,” says Schutte. “It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this could not be happening.’ It’s raining. Awesome. And we can’t get down. Great. And the dogs are hurt,” she says.
The next morning, it takes Hess two hours to make it down to call for help.
“They were there within minutes, which was pretty awesome,” he says.
Search and rescue volunteers first rappel Schutte down.
“I was terrified. I was terrified. I’m scared of heights,” she says. “I had a great team supporting me, rappelling me down a straight drop. It’s pouring rain, lightning, hailing. It’s like, ‘Oh God.’”
But now what about the dogs? She questioned.
Rescuers say the dogs were so exhausted, their pads raw, they could barely walk. So they had to do some quick thinking on how to get the dogs down. They had never done this before.
They put the pets inside backpacks and slowly rappel 60-pound lili and 80-pound loki down the steep, rock-infested mountain.
The animals remained trusting and calm so high above the ground.
“There’s still lot of guilt of putting them in that situation,” says Schutte.
“It’s hard to get over that,” says Hess.
The pooch predicament was over. But their respect for the outdoors renewed.
“We take for granted that thousands of people go there every week…There are circumstances that happen that can put us in a really bad situation,” says Hess.
The most important thing the couple learned is to come more prepared—to bring two backpacks in case they lose one.
And to let someone know where they are going and when they should be home.
They’re also are so thankful to Summit County Search and Rescue who brought Schutte and the hounds to safety.
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