Climber on rescue from Boulder Flatirons with cat: “She was 100% calm”


Cat and two climbers rescued from First Flatiron. (Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Rescue Group)
Cat and two climbers rescued from First Flatiron. (Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Rescue Group)

A couple of months ago, Austin Wolff saw someone free soloing the Second Flatiron with their cat and thought, “That would be kind of cool.”

So on Thursday night, the day before Wolff left Colorado for his home state of Texas, he invited a friend to join him and his 2-year-old cat Link on an adventure up one of Boulder’s most popular climbing spots.

“I was getting ready to leave Colorado and I’m like, ‘I kinda need to do this prior to leaving,’” Wolff, 30, said. “So the day before I was like, ‘Let’s go climb the First Flatiron.’ So Wednesday, I was like ‘I gotta do it, I’ve got one last opportunity to be up here.’”

Wolff, Link and friend Susan Katz began the climb around 3 p.m. Thursday. Despite the climb being easy for Wolff, building anchors took longer than hoped and by the time they reached their final pitch, Wolff said it was too dark to go any farther.

Debating between sticking it out for the night or calling for help, Wolff said he swallowed his pride and called in the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, which arrived just after midnight to two cold climbers and a sleeping cat.

“I wish other people could see her up there,” Wolff said of Link. “She was snoring. She took a nap and was snoring. While we were all teeth-chattering, she was hanging out, sleeping. She was 100% calm. She was probably calmer than all of us.”

In an email, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group officials said they were glad the rescue had a happy outcome for both the humans and the cat.

“We were happy to assist the climbers and their cat off the cliff and to the ground safely,” Rocky Mountain Rescue Group spokesperson Angela Tomczik wrote. “We commend them for calling for help when they did. We want everyone to know that we are available 24/7 and never charge for rescue. Rocky Mountain Rescue Group is an all-volunteer team and are always happy to help our community.”

The news of the rescue led to backlash from Boulderites on social media, with several voicing concerns for Link’s safety, but Wolff assured that he would never put Link in harm’s way.

Austin Wolff and Link Wolff. (Courtesy of Austin Wolff)
Austin Wolff and Link Wolff. (Courtesy of Austin Wolff)

“Safety is my first and foremost priority, both with her, myself and anyone I’m climbing with, so getting down the mountain safely is my biggest thing,” Wolff said. “If there’s a reason I’ve got to call someone for extra help for whatever reason I’ll suck it up and my pride can take a hit but us getting down the mountain safely at the end of the day is my biggest concern.”

When climbing, Link nestles into a breathable backpack and hooks into Wolff. Wolff said he frequently lets Link out of the box-shaped bag on adventures to allow her to explore nearby wildlife.

Wolff said he always had his mind set on adopting an adventure cat, despite growing up with dogs and never previously owning a cat. In preparation, Wolff read “Adventure Cats: Living Nine Lives To The Fullest,” and researched what personality types of cats are best for adventuring with. When a friend of a friend found Link outside a Texas construction site, Wolff said he immediately knew Link was the one.

“I drove out and saw her and she was just the most perfect cat,” Wolff said. “Like super, super friendly, super curious, was always looking out the window like she wanted to be outside. I went in not expecting to adopt that day and I left with the cat. She’s been perfect.”

Austin Wolff and Link Wolff. (Courtesy of Austin Wolff)
Austin Wolff and Link Wolff. (Courtesy of Austin Wolff)

Wolff said Link’s name originally comes from climbing equipment called “quick links,” but it is also symbolic of how quickly the two bonded or “linked up.”

Over the past two years, Wolff said the pair have bonded on a “deep level” and have traveled to eight national parks together. Wolff hopes the pair will visit all 63.

“It’s been really fun taking her out,” Wolff said. “It’s our, my, quest to go to every national park together.”

The two are currently laying low for the time being in Austin, Texas, but Wolff plans to visit national parks in Arizona and Utah next.

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