Champion climber helps avert cat-astrophe
By KOMO Staff
Story Published: Jan 14, 2010 at 6:23 PM PST
Story Updated: Jan 14, 2010 at 7:13 PM PST
SPOKANE, Wash. -- You could hear the screeches before you saw him perched high on a ledge above a trail.
The unlucky kitten was stuck, unable to make its way down. He was out of easy reach, perhaps only accessible to rescuers or a champion climber.
But then came along Kay Leclaire.
"We were running from the Spokane Club, and we could hear this poor little kitten crying," she said.
Leclaire looked up and there he was -- a tiny kitten on a tiny ledge, practically begging for help.
"I'm sure it was terrified and obviously had no way to get down," said Leclaire.
And that's when the unlucky kitten's luck turned. Leclaire is a world-renowned climber.
"We went home, got my climbing equipment and decided to rescue the little kitten," she said.
At 60, Leclaire became the oldest woman to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents. And last May, she became the second oldest American woman to summit Mount Everest.
For the old pro, climbing the old railroad abutment to rescue the kitten was hardly intimidating.
With a harness and ropes in place, she repelled [sic] over the side of the abutment to the very anxious cat below.
"He was ready to be rescued, that's for sure," Leclaire said.
As animal control officers looked on, the veteran climber grabbed the critter and handed him off to others waiting at the top.
Despite her years of experience, the rescue turned out to be more challenging than Leclaire expected.
"I didn't put enough coils around the part that goes to my feet, so the rope was slipping," she said.
Still, the ending was a happy one with both Leclaire and the kitten safe on the ground, where they formally met.
"Hey there," Leclaire said. "Aw, you're shaking, my goodness."
As for the kitten, he's already begun his new life. After his rescue, he was given a clean bill of health, named "Sky" and adopted within hours.
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