Climbing Colorado’s 14ers has become a quite popular summer activity over the last 10 or so years, but how about bringing your dog to the summit of all 58 of them! Along the trail, you will see a good number of dogs and many of them will make it to the summit. To climb all 58 though is an accomplishment that requires persistence, safety, dedication, and close observation of rules.
This past September 2019, Ellie Briggs and her eight-year-old Siberian husky, Loki, completed their last 14er. Not only was it their last one but it was Capitol Peak, considered to be one of the hardest 14ers due to the length of the hike and a 150-foot knife-edge ridge with major exposure. In 2018, they tried to summit Capitol but were turned away due to poor weather. The following year was filled with nervous thoughts and much mental preparation but it was all worth the heart-warming summit this past fall.
Ellie and Loki’s adventure began in 2012 after Briggs rescued Loki from a family that saved him from a closed puppy mill. Soon after rescuing Loki Briggs became ill and managed to get Loki registered as a service dog, this helped the two climb Longs and Culebra Peak without breaking rules. At first, neither of them had much experience in the outdoors. So, over the years they progressed from the easiest climbs, such as Mount Elbert, all the way to the hardest of the peaks.
“If he doesn’t want to do something, we’re not going to do it. I’m not going to force him,” Briggs says. “I always thought as long as he wants to keep going, we’ll keep going.”
Mount Wilson, Little Bear, North Maroon, Capitol, Sunlight, and Pyramid Peak all require 4th class climbing moves that can be nearly impossible for dogs. Not all dogs are equal and proper training of dog and owner leading up to these mountains is highly recommended or the possibility of death may ensue. Additionally, the two would generally take the least challenging route and bring along another companion when the route was going to be difficult.
By 2018, the duo had summited 57 of the peaks with only Capitol remaining. Due to the extremely exposed knife ridge, Briggs had her friend Korrena De join for the final summit. They even brought a rope along but Loki managed the knife ridge with ease going both directions. Summiting Capitol Peak was emotional but Briggs says it was an incredibly special moment.
The duo now joins only two other dogs that have successfully summited all of the 14ers. Josh Aho, the owner of Sawyer, one of the other successful canines, created the webpage, 14erCanine.org to document the history of dogs on Colorado’s 14ers. In his findings, he discovered only eight dogs have ever climbed at least 50 of the peaks!
Briggs and Loki’s story is quite special and they hope to continue tackling big goals until no longer possible. The two summited Mount Rainier in June of 2019, and aim to summit Denali in the coming few years, as well as explore some of California’s 14ers.