|Oly is reunited with his family. CREDIT.|
Oly, a welsh corgi, was an avid skier. Or rather, Oly’s owners David and Kerry Gaillard were avid skiers; Oly just liked to go along for the ride. Unfortunately for Oly and the Galliards, winter was rather late getting to Montana. Usually a skier’s paradise, the early season had brought more rain than snow in most parts of the state. Resorts usually busy by early January were struggling to keep even a handful of runs open.
So Oly’s owners did what many truly devoted skiers would do and went looking for the snow. Generally, this means backcountry skiing, which doesn’t involve the luxury of lifts or cozy lodges. Instead, skiers hike into wilderness areas to enjoy pristine powder and more advanced terrain. It’s for the love of the snow.
This search is what brought David, Kerry and Oly to Hayden Creek just outside of the small town of Cooke City, Montana on New Year’s Eve. They were all bringing in the New Year doing what they loved. David and Kerry skied and Oly was close behind.
But backcountry skiing is dangerous and things can change in a hurry. Without notice, an avalanche broke bringing snow hurtling down the mountain toward the small group. Kerry, who was on the edge of the avalanche, managed to grab onto a tree to avoid being swept away by the charging snow. David and Oly hadn’t been so lucky. Kerry began searching, but after three hours was unable to dig her husband or her dog from the deep snow.
Returning with help, David’s body was located using his avalanche beacon – a necessity for any backcountry skier – but Oly was never found. The task of finding a rather small animal beneath all that snow was impossible. David was taken home, but Oly stayed on the mountain.
Days passed and plans were made to hold services for both David and Oly. It was right about that time that the Galliards received a call from the owner of the hotel the couple had stayed at in Cooke City. Oly was at the hotel and the owner was personally going to bring him home. It had been four days since the slide and miraculously the corgi had been patiently waiting right in front of the room where his owners had been staying.
Curious about what had happened, a few members of the search team return to the site of the accident to look for evidence of what had happened to Oly. There, a few hundred feet below where they found David was a hole that hadn’t been there previously. Filled with fur and the marks of pawing, it is where Oly spent days buried deep in the snow only to survive, dig his way out and walk himself back to town.
Even in tragedy, Oly is a glimmer of hope. If a corgi, a dog that stands a foot and a half tall on stubby little legs, can survive an avalanche for four days I’m pretty sure I can do just about anything. I'm an Oly.
Here is the video taken of the area where the avalanche occurred and evidence of Oly’s survival.
Ole's Story - A Video Documentary from Blackmore Media on Vimeo.