Climber reveals survival tale after 2,000 ft. fall from mountain


PARADISE, Calif. - A mountain climber from Butte County survived two days in the snow after falling about 2,000 feet from a mountain summit in Colorado. Doctors in Colorado told his family it's a fall no one would be expected to survive.

Ryan Montoya, 23, of Paradise, is recovering in a Denver hospital. He went missing Sunday while climbing alone trying to summit Pyramid Peak, a 14,000 foot peak near Aspen, Colorado.

His parents Dave and LaShawn Montoya traveled from California to Colorado to monitor the search effort.

Montoya's mother said he was about 40 feet from the summit when the ice he stepped on collapsed, sending him sliding down the mountain. She shared what he told her about how he survived.

Montoya slid an estimated 1,500-2,000 feet down East face of the mountain, later telling his mother he fell long enough "to do a lot of talking, thinking and yelling all the way down." Once he came to rest in a snow field, he was unable to use his dislocated left elbow. He saw water, pulled out his shovel, and used it as a sled to slide down toward the water. He survived by making a snow cave with his good hand. He hunkered down overnight Sunday as winds howled around him. He had an emergency bivy sack (lightweight shelter) and had enough fuel to heat snow and make water.

On Monday he stayed put because of the inclement weather and he needed rest. That afternoon, he moved along a creek to stay near water. Before nightfall he made another snow cave and stayed there Monday night.

On Tuesday, he got moving again, and made his way along the stream to a road and walked along that until he saw a runner. He yelled at the runner who figured out that Montoya was the climber who had been reported missing. The runner alerted the search and rescue teams who took Montoya to a nearby rescue station.

Montoya suffered severe frostbite, a broken elbow, and a broken pelvis. The fall even broke a chunk out of his helmet. He is being treated at University Hospital in Denver for frostbite to his right hand. They are trying to prevent him from losing his fingers after his glove got wet and froze.

Montoya's parents are leaders in their church community at Paradise Alliance Church. They credit Montoya's faith and the prayers of the community for helping him survive his ordeal. Montoya had been living in Boulder, Colorado, attending graduate school.

His mother said two weeks ago he published a book available on Amazon. The book is called 'The Pilgrim's Ladder.' It is about climbing, life, the search for beauty and truth, with some philosophical musings. Montoya is an avid climber and has traveled to the mountains of Nepal.

On facebook, his mother quipped "It would be nice if he sold enough copies for pay for a new climbing helmet!"

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