As my climbing skills improved, I began attempting some of the more difficult mountains in Colorado. I assumed that on those mountains there would be no dog coming along due to steepness up to near vertical.
Early one morning on an attempt at the very challenging Pyramid Peak, we were in the dark just before the sun lit up the gully we were climbing. I detected movement that gave me pause at first, and I looked up. I was amazed, there was a mountain goat, perhaps amused at my greater difficulty, watching me move up. He then proceeded to climb with me.
How Do They Climb?
I had to research this incredible animal. They have a double coat that can withstand temperatures to -50 F and winds up to 100 mph.Their feet are designed for climbing steep, rocky slopes, sometimes with pitches of 60 degrees or more. Their cloven hooves can spread apart almost like fingers, and their hooves have inner pads that provide traction. The tips of their feet have sharp dewclaws to keep them from slipping. Their balance is rock solid. On that day, on almost vertical pitches, I saw the rest of his family. There was a doe and her kid literally on the side of the opposing wall. No fear, total confidence, no ropes –and the doe un-concerned about her child.
Throughout the year they usually stay at or above tree line. Mountain goats are herbivores and spend most of their time grazing. Their diet includes grasses, herbs, sedges, moss, twigs and leaves from the low-growing shrubs and conifers at tree line. It is not a member of all the other goat classes; it is a remarkable animal that is the only living species of its genus. While it is called the Rocky Mountain Goat, it is found throughout the mountain regions of Western North America all the way up to the Yukon.
On another difficult climb up the deadly North Maroon Peak we were joined by another goat who climbed with us ALL THE WAY to the 14,012-foot summit!