Photo showing where Eric Dufresne's dog took a tumble down an 800-foot cliff face when the cornice gave way. (Contributed photo)

Dog takes 800-foot fall down cliff face with avalanche

Dog owner recounts harrowing ordeal of his beloved pooch taking a long tumble

The thought of Fido tomahawking down an 800-foot cliff is enough to make any dog lover cringe.

Yet that was the image that raced through my mind as I hurried to the bottom of the cliff my dog Spider had just fallen down.

‘Is he dead?

What if he’s badly hurt?

What am I going to tell my kids?’

Bluebird and warm, the conditions ripe for ski touring and calm.

Rumbling thunder and my ski partner’s panicked voice shattered the peace.

“Your dog fell off the edge. The cornice broke.”

Disbelief gave way to a sense of urgency and a need to act.

But what could we do?

Following him down the cliff face was out of the question.

The only option, head further up the ridge to a spot where we could safely access the drainage below and search for my buddy.

It took 30 panicked minutes; 30 minutes of dark rumination. Trauma. Burial.

‘There’s no way he could have survived a fall down that face.’

My skis descending with my hopes, I was now well into the bottom of the draw.

And then, below and to my right, bounding into view.

‘He did it. He’s alive.’

My hopes of a cinematic reunion were thwarted, however. My arms open and ready in hug position.

Spider standing there, crackling with energy, giving me that ‘let’s go ski’ look.

And so, we skied the slope.

Six small cuts on his legs and not so much as a limp.

I still can’t believe he’s alive.

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Eric Dufresne