Canines.Mobi

Climbers Expected to Be Fine, Thanks to Dog, Radio Beacon

Climbers Expected to Be Fine, Thanks to Dog, Radio Beacon

By Sarah Skidmore

Associated Press
Wednesday, February 21, 2007; Page A02 GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. -- Because of a high-tech electronic gadget and a big, warm dog named Velvet, three climbers rescued after a harrowing fall and a night in the wind and cold high on Mount Hood are expected to be fine.

They were found at about the 7,400-foot level Monday and hiked down the mountain with their rescuers.

Velvet, a 4-year-old Labrador mix, gets attention from a veterinarian. The dog spent a night on Mount Hood with three stranded climbers. (By Fredrick D. Joe -- The Oregonian Via Associated Press)

"I'm really glad they were there for us," Matty Bryant, one of the three climbers, said of the rescue teams. "They did an incredible job. They were amazing."

Searchers credited the group's rescue to two things -- Velvet, a black Labrador retriever mix who provided warmth as the three climbers huddled under sleeping bags and a tarp, and the activation of an emergency radio beacon, the size of a sunglasses case, that guided them to the group.

"The most important part of this rescue is that they did everything right," said Lt. Nick Watt of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

The three climbers set out Saturday with five other friends -- all in their 20s and 30s and from the Portland area -- to scale the 11,239-foot mountain, Oregon's tallest.

However, a storm moved in, and on Sunday they started their descent in blowing snow.

"You had no visual reference around you to determine if you were going up or down," said one member of the group, Trevor Liston. "You could make out a climber at 30 feet at best."

Then he saw the group of three -- all roped together with Velvet -- disappear over an icy ledge.

Liston, who described himself as a veteran of Mount Hood climbs, said all eight had experience at either rock climbing or mountaineering.

One of the women was being treated for a head injury in Portland, said Jim Strovink, spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. "She's going to be fine," he said.

Velvet, owned by Bryant, had minor cuts and abrasions on her back paws and legs from prolonged exposure to the snow, but she was cleared to go home. "The dog probably saved their lives" by lying across them during the cold night, said Erik Brom, a member of the Portland Mountain Rescue team.