Stray dog stuns Sherpas with 7,000m climb to Himalayan summit
Eager pooch latches onto climbing party for what may be the highest climb recorded for a dog
A stray dog befriended a mountain expedition and followed them to the top of a 7,128m Himalayan peak.
The dog, which the climbers named Mera after a peak near where they first met her, reached the summit of Baruntse in Nepal without any assistance and was still able to run once she reached the summit.
Sherpas with the expedition said they had never seen such a feat, and an organisation that documents expeditions said the climb may be the highest recorded for a dog, according to the outdoors magazine Outside.
“I am not aware of a dog actually reaching the summit of an expedition peak in Nepal,” said Billi Bierling, of the Himalayan Database. “I just hope that she won’t get into trouble for having climbed Baruntse without a permit.”
Dogs have previously been found at Everest Base Camp, with a height of 5,380m, and have followed climbers up to Camp II (6,500m). The 20kg stray is thought to be a cross between a Tibetan mastiff and a Himalayan sheepdog.
Mera had bounded up to climbers from the Kathmandu-based Summit Club when they were already at 5,181m and latched on to Don Wargowsky, from Seattle. Wargowsky said the Sherpas at first only tolerated the dog, but then began to appreciate its climbing ability. “They’d never seen anything like this happen,” he said. “They said she was a special dog, that she brought luck to the expedition. Some even thought that she was blessed.”
On the day of the final ascent, he said, Mera seemed unconcerned by the altitude or precipices on either side and bounded ahead of the group. “I have no clue if she’d been up there before, but she seemed very confident.”
Mera ran ahead on the final ridge and waited for him, panting, he said, adding: “I’d never been on top of something like that with a dog. She was leaning up against me and wanting to be petted. It was pretty surreal.”
Wargowsky said that at the end of the expedition he was heartbroken to think of leaving Mera on the streets. “I was sick about it,” he said. “I told Kaji [Sherpa, the base camp manager] it was breaking my heart to think of leaving her. He said: ‘No way, she’s special. She’s coming with me’.”
The dog now lives with Kaji Sherpa, who has renamed her Baru after the summit they climbed together.
• The search for British climber Tom Ballard and Italian Daniele Nardi on Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth-highest mountain, was called off on Wednesday after a week when searchers lost all hope of finding any trace of them.
– © The Daily Telegraph