Citla, the snow dog that saved mountaineers in Pico de Orizaba


Citla accustomed his body to temperatures of minus 11 degrees and high mountain pressure. All his life he lived on Pico de Orizaba, where he saved hundreds of mountaineers from dying. Here’s his story.

It was two in the morning when, full of fear for the danger of freezing to death, the members of a family of climbers were desperately looking for the path to descend from Pico de Orizaba. But frankly they were lost. And, as if it were the song of a saving angel, they heard the barking of a dog in the distance, it was Citla, who was then about seven years old, same time of living in the mountains. Thanks to him they found the way. They survived.

Citla, famous in the international alpine community

Stories like the above abound among the Mexican, Japanese, Australian, German, Chinese… mountaineers who climbed the Pico de Orizaba and met Citla, a dog full of scars on his face from fighting so much with coyotes since she was a puppy, a dog cub that was orphaned near the Millimeter Telescope.

They say that her mother threw herself into a truck that had gone up the mountain, but the vehicle ended up killing her, leaving her puppies alone. A worker took several of these small dogs, but Citla refused to leave, going into the forest of the volcano.

After a few months he left the bushes, making himself known among mountaineers as a thief of food for climbers, which is why throughout his life he never ate croquettes, tortillas or leftovers, he only liked to swallow salamis, dried meat, sausages, tuna and roasted chicken, that was the food that he took away from the climbers.

Although he also learned to make his own food, such as squirrels and rabbits, there is a photograph out there of him lying in the snow eating one of these animals.

He was a tough dog, his body got used to temperatures down to minus 11 degrees Celsius, also to the pressure of 5,747 meters above sea level. Not infrequently they put glasses on him to protect his eyes from the pitiful glare of the ice.

Some climbers caught video of him running bare-footed across the snow, stepping forward to show climbers the way up. Many climbers remember him for warning them of snakes or other dangerous crawling animals along the way.

In 2015, his year of fame

All the kindness, camaraderie, and feats of Citla were part of the anecdotes among the small community of mountaineers in Mexico, until in 2015, when some representatives of the international media went to Pico de Orizaba to report the discovery of the corpses of some climbers killed in the area in 1959.

At that time, the reporters met the kind dog, and for the first time, they made the story of this snowdog widely known.

Goodbye to the big snow dog

What they did not know is that it was already the last stage of Citla’s life. The next two years were a lot of suffering for him, the extreme flash of ice that his eyes received for years, produced a blindness from which he could not recover. Then he had liver cancer, which killed him in 2017.

The alpine community sent him off with yellow flowers, the toys he liked, his sunglasses for climbing in the snow, photos, pieces of roasted chicken, and a white coffin to bury him at the foot of Pico de Orizaba, the volcano that was always his home.

Source: Mexico Desconocido