Man Falls 1,500 Feet in Freezing Cold – and Lives!

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Ryan’s extraordinary story of endurance and survival began with a weekend climbing trip, and ended in a fight against death.

Ryan texted Dave, his dad, to tell him he was going on a two-day climb of Pyramid Peak in the Elks Range near Aspen, Colorado. He told Dave his return time was 8 p.m. that Sunday – if he wasn’t back by then, something had gone wrong. By 7 that evening, Dave says, “I was starting to get a little concerned because he always comes back hours before that time he gives.” His roommates hadn’t heard from him either. “I got a sinking feeling in my stomach,” says Dave’s mother, LaShawn, “Because he is never late.”

The sheriff’s office said it was too dark to start a search that evening. The next day, search and rescue teams went out, “But they couldn’t send out a full-fledged team because this blizzard had come in.” LaShawn and Dave immediately headed to Aspen to be on hand when Ryan was found.

“By Tuesday morning, we were a wreck,” Dave says. At this point, Ryan had spent two nights out in the bitter cold, with temperatures around four degrees. “When I heard they had found the snow cave with his gear in it, I just lost it,” admits LaShawn. “It seemed to me he had to be dead.”

Watch: Exclusive: Ryan’s Fight for Survival After 1,500 Foot Fall!

But Ryan had survived! Now he tells the story of his fight for life. He was traveling solo and knew a big storm was blowing in on Sunday afternoon, but “That’s why I was shooting for an early-morning summit, to avoid the big storm,” he says. He spent the night camping near the summit, then headed for the peak early that morning – he was 40 or 50 feet from the top.

“And then all of a sudden, it was all going to hell,” he says. Something collapsed beneath his feet and Ryan was plunging down among the steep drop-offs….

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