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History History of 14er Dogs Addendum


The History of 14er Dogs section within Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer includes sixteen dogs over the span of 100 years. Unfortunately the book missed some dogs with historical climbing significance. Because this type of historical compilation is new, and certainly growing, this page will include updates for the dogs and owners that were missed and/or not included in the book. If you have information which should be included on this page, go to the Contact page and send an email to 14er Canine LLC with details. It's possible future print runs may include this information.


On July 5, 1931, the Colorado Mountain Club climbed Mount Antero (14,269 feet) for the first time. Of the original party of 28 who stayed at the Antero Hotel, 23 climbed the peak, one, Mary Cronin, did a solo ascent of Mount Princeton (14,197 feet) while the rest fished.

The outing report further states that “the most distinctive member of the group of climbers was a bull terrier owned by Clyde Farnsworth. He has reached the summit of several other fourteen thousand-foot peaks including Mount Sneffels.”


Sometime in the 1970s, outdoor photographer Clyde Smith, and a Cocker Spaniel named Inky, climbed more than 20 fourteen thousand-foot peaks in Colorado including a technical route on Crestone Needle (14,197 feet).

Sometime in the 1970s, Smokii, a Norwegian Elkhound employed by his Forest Service Ranger owner on backcountry patrols, reportedly climbed all of the mountains in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness of New Mexico, many in the Maroon Bells area of Colorado, as well as wilderness peaks in the southern Sierra. Presumably some of Smokii’s climbs in the Maroon Bells area included fourteen thousand-foot peaks.


Paul & Dan McCabe and Dylan atop Mount WilsonPAUL & DAN MCCABE & DYLAN
Throughout all of the 1990s and into the very early 2000s, brothers Paul and Dan McCabe climbed all but one of Colorado's 14ers with their dog Dylan. According to the McCabes, Dylan was a blond mutt weighing about 20 to 30 pounds. When asked about the potential breeds that may have been in his pedigree, the McCabes said probably husky. Dan's comments of Dylan were more revealing. "Dylan thought of himself as more mountain goat, with some mountain lion mixed in. He climbed, he rappelled, he rafted, and he rode on the motorcycle with me." The climbing team of three spent 14 years together tackling some of the most difficult peaks in Colorado.

Ahead of their time, the McCabes climbed some pseudotechnical routes with Dylan. In many cases, they used his harness to aid him in rappelling down short cliff walls or other sections not suitable for dogs. In other cases, because of Dylan's size, they were able to drop him into their backpacks for short boosts or downclimbs. Perhaps one of the most incredible feats Dylan accomplished during his 14 year run with the brothers was completing 3 of the 4 great 14er traverses. The McCabes said Dylan did not do the Crestone Peak to Crestone Needle traverse. Regardless, having completed 3 of the great traverses seems to, at this time, put Dylan in a stand alone category amongst 14er dogs.

After many adventures and hundreds of Colorado summits, Dylan would eventually pass away at the ripe old age of 14 and a half years old. Dan still carries the dog tags and memory of Dylan with him on his backpack. Dan recalls, "Stories of Dylan are abundant. Every climb was quite the adventure with him around. I still carry his dog tags on my pack and when they jingle I can’t help but remember Dylan." The complete and comprehensive Q&A with the McCabes is a great read if you would like to learn more details about their quest with Dylan.

In the 1990s, Steve Gladbach, and his Australian Shepherd China, climbed several thirteeners, about 45 unique fourteeners, and quite a few winter fourteener trips. Gladbach never considered trying to take China on all of the 14ers, mostly due to concerns of kicked rocks. He also had no desire to require her to tackle the knife edge on Capitol Peak, but indicated in his writings that she was a "pretty natural mountaineer."


Cooper & Steve GladbachSTEVE GLADBACH & COOPER
In the early 2000s, Steve Gladbach, and his Australian Shepherd Cooper, climbed several thirteeners, about 45 unique fourteeners, and quite a few winter fourteener trips. Cooper, like China, was a pretty natural mountaineer, and also did not attempt to finish the fourteeners. Cooper had climbed 300 plus mountains in all seasons, but in general he didn't go on mountains with a high potential for rockfall. Gladbach said Cooper didn't have tendencies to knock any more loose than his human counterparts, but he typically would be out ahead, and consequenty above his fellow climbers. Gladbach said, "If he did kick a rock on someone, there would be no excusing it. While if a human kicked a rock on a human, most of us would consider that an accident. A dog rocking a human would not be viewed with any tolerance."

Gladbach also wrote of Cooper, "Every now and then we'll catch an off-season opportunity to climb a peak when there are no others around. It was on such an occasion that Cooper climbed North and South Maroon Peaks seperately, Wetterhorn Peak, and Little Bear Peak. He has a few thirteeners under his belt which are at least as tough, but due to high use, he has no plans to tackle all the fourteeners."

Gladbach believed that Cooper may have been the canine pioneer of this Wind River route.

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