Rock Springs Duo Risk Lives Climbing Cliff To Rescue Cat

An indoor cat named Pepper spent two days outdoors stuck halfway up a cliff in Rock Springs, ignoring every attempt to coax, cajole and coerce her down. So, a local man and teen climbed the cliff to rescue her.

AR
Andrew Rossi

May 19, 20246 min read

Rock Springs resident Dawson Lorenz rescues Pepper the house cat from the spot where she'd been stuck for two days. Lorenz volunteered to help after the cat's owner, Angie Chrisman, asked for help on social media.
Rock Springs resident Dawson Lorenz rescues Pepper the house cat from the spot where she'd been stuck for two days. Lorenz volunteered to help after the cat's owner, Angie Chrisman, asked for help on social media. (Courtesy Angie Chrisman)

Stuck on a sheer cliff face behind her home for two days, Pepper owes all nine of her lives to some Rock Springs locals who risked their own safety to rescue Angie Chrisman’s beloved Siamese cat.

Angie said Pepper is an indoor cat “100%,” but like most felines, is curious about the unknown, so she seized the moment Sunday night to scoot through an open door and make her escape into the wild.

“I didn't realize she was gone until the next morning,” Chrisman told Cowboy State Daily. “I called and thought I heard her, but when I went to look for her, the meowing stopped. I went to work, got home, asked the kids if they’d seen the cat, went outside and called her. That's when I found her up on the mountain.”

Pepper has somehow gotten herself stuck in a crevice at the top of a sheer cliff face behind her house. Chrisman, her children, and their friends all attempted to rescue the cat, but couldn’t get near enough to reach her.

“The crevice was around 10 to 15 feet above where we could stand safely,” she said. “So, we'd set up there for a while, called her and tried to get her to come down. She wouldn’t come down.”

Chrisman isn’t sure how Pepper got herself into the precarious predicament. Her theory is she might have been chasing something up the cliff and was so absorbed by the pursuit that she didn’t realize where she was until it was too late.

All Chrisman knew Monday morning was that Pepper was scared and not inclined to get herself to safety.

“I’m not sure how she managed to get up there, but she was scared,” she said. “You could hear her screaming from the mountaintop.”

Fretting And No Netting

Chrisman and her family tried coaxing Pepper down with food. Sweetwater County Animal Control attempted to use its 20-foot extension net to rescue Pepper.

Nope, the cat was having none of it.

“I work for the city of Rock Springs, so I made a personal call to the Fire Department,” Chrisman said. “They came over, assessed the situation, and said if she didn't come down by the next day, they would try to figure something out.”

Desperate for a timely solution, Chrisman sought an experienced rock climber on social media. Any climber worth his or her salt was sought to pluck Pepper off her perch.

Retired U.S. Marine Jack Taylor was the first to answer the call. He scrambled across the cliff for two hours with Chrisman’s 14-year-old son, Braxton Rafmusson, trying to reach the cat but had to stop once it got dark.

  • Rock Springs resident Dawson Lorenz rescues Pepper the house cat from the spot where she'd been stuck for two days. Lorenz volunteered to help after the cat's owner, Angie Chrisman, asked for help on social media.
    Rock Springs resident Dawson Lorenz rescues Pepper the house cat from the spot where she'd been stuck for two days. Lorenz volunteered to help after the cat's owner, Angie Chrisman, asked for help on social media. (Courtesy Angie Chrisman)
  • Rock Springs residents Braxton Rafmusson and Jack Keller attempt to reach the spot where Pepper the cat was stuck.
    Rock Springs residents Braxton Rafmusson and Jack Keller attempt to reach the spot where Pepper the cat was stuck. (Courtesy Angie Chrisman)
  • The ragged rocks behind Angie Chrisman's home in Rock Springs. Chrisman isn't sure how her cat got so high and so stuck, but her terrified caterwauling could be heard echoing until her rescue.
    The ragged rocks behind Angie Chrisman's home in Rock Springs. Chrisman isn't sure how her cat got so high and so stuck, but her terrified caterwauling could be heard echoing until her rescue. (Courtesy Angie Chrisman)

Risky Rescue

So, Pepper spent another night in the crevice on the cliff while Chrisman tried to find a solution.

The answer to her prayers came in a phone call Tuesday morning.

Dawson Lorenz heard about Pepper’s predicament and wanted to help. That morning, he and Braxton braved the loose rock and gusty wind to reach the cat.

“I don't know how (Lorenz) managed to get up so high,” Chrisman said. “But he did, and he got her out. It was a miracle because I didn't know what we were going to do.”

Once Lorenz had a secure hold on Pepper, the cat was handed down to Braxton, who then passed her down to safety. The cat had spent at least two days stuck on the cliff.

Chrisman said her thoroughly indoor cat was “angry, but good” after the harrowing outdoor ordeal.

Attempts to reach Lorenz and Taylor by the time this story was published were unsuccessful.

There’s Something To The Stereotype

While Lorenz helped Chrisman get Pepper down before the Rock Springs Fire Department had to go after her, they would be ready and willing if called on, said Fire Chief Jim Wamsley.

“Usually, the cat will come down on its own. I have yet to see a skeleton of a cat in a tree, … but we’ll go after it if we need to,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Saturday. “We really will do about anything to help. There are many times we have gotten cats out of trees, it just comes with the job.”

The first option, however, is to allow as much as possible to cat to get itself out.

Wamsley said he’s pleased Lorenz got Pepper down, and that they’re both OK. Had the department responded to make a cliff rescue, the firefighters would’ve been obligated to use “at least six” people and various apparatus to make sure everyone was as safe as possible.

Rescuing cats and other animals can be as dangerous, or more so, for firefighters, the chief said. That’s because the animals often won’t realize these strangers coming after them want to help.

He recalled one time trying to get a cat out of someone’s vehicle that had rolled, and a firefighter “comes stumbling out with a cat attached to his face.”

“Even though the stereotype is the firefighter pulling a cat out of the tree, there’s a lot that can go wrong with that,” Wamsley said. “There are a lot of safety precautions we have to take so the rescuers don’t have to be rescued.”

Although there’s no official training for rescuing cats and other animals, firefighters respond to their fair share of animal calls. Wamsley said he remembers “helping people get a dog out of a void one time” and extracting a horse from a trailer that tipped over during a highway crash.

And the Laramie Fire Department pulled a three ducklings from a storm drain last summer.

Pepper, the indoor cat, in her natural element. Angie Chrisman said her cat was "angry but good" after being rescued from the cliff where she spent two nights stranded and terrified.
Pepper, the indoor cat, in her natural element. Angie Chrisman said her cat was "angry but good" after being rescued from the cliff where she spent two nights stranded and terrified. (Courtesy Angie Chrisman)

'Heroes To Me'

Fortunately, Pepper was rescued before it got to the point of a full-blown firefighter rescue. She’s again safely inside lounging comfortably in Chrisman’s home, her natural environment. The multi-day effort to rescue her seems to have had more of a lasting impact on her owner.

Chrisman gets emotional thinking about the efforts people made to rescue her pet.

“They were risking their own lives to save her,” Chrisman said. “It was a very dangerous area. And they are definitely heroes to me, and the world needs more like them both.”

Chrisman’s highest praise goes to Lorenz and her son Braxton. Still, she’s immensely appreciative of Taylor’s Monday night effort and the overall response she had from the Rock Springs community.

“There were so many people who either came by and looked while I was at work, offered advice or were willing to just come look at the situation,” she said. “It was heartwarming to see the community come together and help. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

Andrew Rossi can be reached at arossi@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Andrew Rossi

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