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THE OUTDOORS ALMANAC | OFF-SCREEN

Cracks addict

Chimneying, it seems, sure beats chasing squirrels

March 16, 2004|Mary Forgione

Biscuit's on fire, a rocket of fur 15 feet off the ground. The whites of her eyes reflect the rock face as she digs in her claws to heave herself up. Suddenly something goes wrong.

She wobbles, plunges backward, bounces a few times and hits the ground. There stands Biscuit, intact and undaunted.

"She shakes herself off, looks more tenacious than ever and goes right back up and climbed to the top," says Peter Mortimer, who videotaped the Jack Russell in Eldorado Canyon near Boulder, Colo.

Biscuit, 6, quit chasing squirrels at the base of the cliffs one day and tailed her owner up a face. "I was belaying and I turned around and Biscuit was right there," Tom Kelly says. "She had climbed up a crack to get to the ledge."

She has since mastered bridging (feet pressed outward in opposite directions) and chimneying (pushing up a fissure by putting a foot against one side and the back against the other) -- all without rope, harness or booties. "She just solos everything," he says.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday March 20, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
Dog gender -- A caption in Tuesday's Outdoors section about a dog that climbs rock faces referred to the dog as male. The dog is female.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday March 23, 2004 Home Edition Outdoors Part F Page 3 Features Desk 0 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
Dog gender -- A caption in last week's section about a dog that climbs rock faces referred to the dog as male. The dog is female.

Her only gear: a jacket when it dips below 40 degrees.

Jack Russells are tenacious, active, agile and pretty fearless, says Connie McKee of the Jack Russell Terrier Network of Northern California. And they're notorious climbers, though usually it's trees. "I could see the dog watching the owner and saying, 'You know, there might be something up there for me,' " McKee says. "And just going for it."

-- Mary Forgione

The three-minute dog-climbing video "Front Range Freaks: Biscuit" is part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour showing at Adventure 16s Wednesday and Thursday in West Los Angeles, (310) 473-4574, and Friday and Saturday in San Diego, (619) 283-2374. For other Southern California screenings, go to www.banffcentre.ca/mountainculture/tour/unitedstates/locations/califo rnia.htm.

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