Aguilar and Citla, Guardian of the Mountain. Aguilar and Citla, Guardian of the Snow.

Liver tumor claims Guardian of the Snow

Citla, mountain-climbing dog of the Pico de Orizaba, loses battle with cancer

A mutt’s moxie made him the sole permanent inhabitant of the highest peak in Mexico over the last decade but yesterday he was defeated by liver cancer.


The memory of Citla the seasoned canine mountain climber will probably live on among the countless alpinists who had the dog as a companion on the Pico de Orizaba.

Citla arrived on the dormant volcano some 10 years ago, when he was believed to have accompanied a construction worker employed at the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano (LMT).

The mutt appears to have never really had an owner, but instead found caring companions in the guards at the LMT and in the hikers that climb the peak year round. The dog became a seasoned climber himself, and stubbornly remained above the 4,000-meter line.

Earlier this month Citla was showing signs that he wasn’t well, so climber Hilario Aguilar Aguilar, president of the Ciudad Serdán chapter of the Mexican Mountaineering Club, decided to take the dog to a veterinarian.

But Citla, also known as the Watchdog of the Mountain and Guardian of the Snow, was never to return.

After a tumor was found in his liver he was given treatment to prepare for surgery.

But the treatment had little effect and Citla died yesterday morning.

Aguilar posted on Facebook that the dog’s final resting place will be at a location on the mountain.

Source: El Universal (sp)

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story overstated the mountain’s height.

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  • Happy Girl

    There are so many dogs in Mexico that have no owner…the lucky ones attach themselves to anyone who offers them a handout, a pat and a kind word. Our street dog lost her battle this spring too…for four years we wanted to make her ours and take her home with us but she had a mind of her own. She was an adult when we met first met her and she already had “owners” that lived in Merida who came down to the beach a few times over the winter. She knew the sound of their car, she was always listening and waiting for their return…and when they came down we never saw her, but when they left she could be found under our car… our casa was just around the corner from their home. She knew where her water and food dish was…she knew we’d giver her a belly rub, a pat and a scratch. We knew we were always her second choice. She was very sick when we got back last winter, most likely cancer…all she wanted from us was to be loved. One day she came by the house one last time to say good by and then she went off to die…on her own terms. Yes, to those who may ask, we tried to get her help as had the locals but she was stuborn…without a collar there was no way she was going anywhere…this gentle little girl showed her teeth (the only time) to us and darted away. She knew we loved her, she knew the locals who cared for her when we were gone loved her…and in their own way her “owners” loved her…what more can a street dog ask for? Rest in peace Citla and Chocalata.

  • EvanRavitz

    You should explain that Citla got his name from the original name of Orizaba, Citlaltepetl. And you mean the 4000 METER level, where the Hut is, not 4000 km!

    • Hello, Evan. The line about Citla’s name was crossed out during the editing process, but is included in the first story on him, from September 18.

      And I apologize for the 4,000 km mistake. That was all me.