This pooch is a superdog.
A stray dog tagged along with a team of mountaineers, following them up to the top of the 23,389-foot peak in Nepal’s Himalayas – a first in the canine world.
Mera, a 45-pound Nepalese mutt thought to be a cross between a Tibetan mastiff and a Himalayan sheepdog, became the first dog ever to reach the summit of Baruntse on Nov. 9 last year, according to Outside magazine.
Billi Bierling of the Himalayan Database, an organization that documents climbing expeditions in Nepal, told the magazine that Mera’s feat could be the highest-recorded elevation ever reached by a dog anywhere in the world.
“I am not aware of a dog actually summiting an expedition peak in Nepal,” Bierling said.
The four-legged climber had joined a team led by mountain guide Don Wargowsky of Seattle on the tenth day of their strenuous month-long expedition to the peak.
The mountaineers were descending from a successful summit of Mera Peak when the dog – who they had seen a few days earlier – decided to join them at 17,500 feet.
From then on Mera became Wargowsky’s best friend and the team’s mascot, according to the magazine.
“One morning we got wind so bad it ripped the anchors off the tent, picked it up, and moved it a few feet,” Wargowsky told Outside. “She just woke up, looked at me, and went back to sleep.”
At first it seemed like the expedition members only tolerated Mera because of Wargowsky’s taking to her, but the pooch quickly impressed the team with her impressive climbing skills, according to the mag.
“They’d never seen anything like this happen. They said she was a special dog, that she brought luck to the expedition,” Wargowsky told the outlet. “Some even thought she was blessed.”
At one point, however, Wargowsky said Mera spent two nights at one camp out in the open, alone on the glacier in the bitter cold.
“I was certain she was going to die up there,” he said.
But the dog prevailed, and trailed along with the team as they worked their way up to 22,500-feet before going back to the base camp.
“Imagine that instead of crampons, you have claws,” Wargowsky said. “Her feet were bloodied. She had busted knuckles and broken toenails. It was hard to see.”
During the trek, Wargowsky had tied Mera up at camp so she couldn’t follow them back up the mountain, but the canine chewed through the rope, catching up with the team less than a half-hour later.
“She just tucked in right behind me,” Wargowsky told the magazine. “And it’s not like I could leave the clients to take her back, so it meant she was going with us.”
There was a close call along the way.
Mera was ahead of Wargowsky when she started to slip, and a quick-thinking Wargowsky hung onto a fixed line on the mountain with one hand and grabbed Mera with the other as he prevented her from falling 600-feet, according to the magazine.
But that didn’t stop the dog from continuing on with the team.
“I have no clue if she’d been up there before, but she seemed very confident in what she was doing,” Wargowsky said.
On the final ridge to the summit, Mera trotted ahead of Wargowsky and the one climber who was able to continue, waiting for them at the top with her tongue out.
“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.
Wargowsky posted an album of stunning photos of the expedition to his Facebook page, showing off “the stray dog that climbed Baruntse with me.”
Mera, who has been renamed Baru, now lives with the expedition’s base camp manager, Kaji Sherpa.
“Baru has put back on the weight she lost from the climb and is happy and well-fed,” the magazine reported.
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