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Dogs rescued from mesa cliff on Ute Mountain Ute reservation

Technical rope rescue performed by Montezuma County Search and Rescue

Two dogs stranded on a mesa cliff southeast of Towaoc were recently rescued by a Montezuma County Search and Rescue team during a nighttime mission.

After receiving permission from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Montezuma County rescue team was deployed by Sheriff Steve Nowlin the afternoon of April 12.

The two dogs had been stranded on a cliff for more than a day.

Tribal officials led a group of five rescuers to the base of the mesa. Rescuers climbed a gully trail to the top then hiked for 2 miles along the rim until they were above the dogs.

“We heard a faint whimper, and were able to locate them,” said rescuer Matt Barnes, in an interview on Friday.

A high-angle technical rope rescue was set up, and a person was lowered to the dogs who were on a ledge 50 feet below the rim and 900 feet above the valley floor.

After much coaxing with food and water, the dogs were secured and taken to the top of the mesa.

“They were friendly dogs, a little scared, hungry and thirsty,” Barns said. “It went really well.”

The dogs were uninjured, and returned to their grateful owners. One was so exhausted, it was loaded into a backpack for the return hike across and down the mesa.

The rescue effort took about 8 hours and much of it occurred at night. Rescuers completed the mission after midnight.

It is not known how the two dogs became stranded.

“It was good training for the team. It was a success,” Nowlin said of the rescue.

Montezuma County Search and Rescue is an all volunteer nonprofit organization.


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