A 24-year-old hiker and his dog were found cold and shoeless but were safely rescued from a midway down a cliff Thursday morning in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.
Bellingham Mountain Rescue and other search and rescue agencies in the area received a report at 10 p.m. Wednesday of a hiker that went over a drop off on Heliotrope Ridge.
“There were two hikers at the end of the (Heliotrope Ridge) trail, and from what I understand, the dog got away from them, went off the edge and dropped down about 30 feet or so,” Mark Jilk of Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue told The Bellingham Herald Thursday. “The dog owner went to try and get the dog, and he couldn’t get back up. He had to sit down there while his friend had to walk back down the trail to get help.”
It turned out she had to walk further than expected, as the stranded hiker had the car keys. In all, Jilk estimated she had to hike more than 10 miles back to Glacier to get to a usable telephone.
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Jilk said search-and-rescue teams didn’t find the hiker until about 1 a.m. because they had difficulty locating him in the darkness until they saw lights reflect off the dog’s eyes.
Because there was a cliff beneath where the hiker and his dog were located, rescue crews from Bellingham Mountain Rescue; Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) and an American Alpine Institute team in the area used a technical rope rescue to lower the hiker down the cliff and then lead him back up to the trail, Jilk said. The dog was harnessed and raised directly up to the trail.
Both were safely back off the cliff by 4:30 a.m.
“No injuries — just cold,” Jilk said. “It got down to 34 degrees last night, and it took us a while to get him back up. And somewhere along the line, he lost his shoes. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it sounded like he took off his shoes to try to get a better grip to climb back up the cliff. ... We had to fashion a pair of shoes for him out of some sweatshirts and sole insoles, but everybody made it out OK.”