Morro Bay man killed in fall while climbing Mount Whitney

Jose Leon “Ramiro” Penloza of Morro Bay.
Jose Leon “Ramiro” Penloza of Morro Bay.

A Morro Bay man died about three weeks ago after he fell while climbing Mount Whitney.

On Friday, April 14, Jose Leon “Ramiro” Penloza, 29, was climbing the north face of Mount Whitney, which still has snow and ice, when he fell, said Mike Theune, a Sequoia National Park public affairs officer. A helicopter search was initiated early the next day by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office , and Penloza’s body was found after four hours.

According to a group who crossed paths with Penloza as they descended the eastern slope of Mount Whitney on Friday, he was alone. He was climbing the Mountaineer’s Route, which is more challenging than the more commonly used route, Theune said. Sometime after they saw the man, the group saw a backpack fall. They called 911 as soon as they had cell signal, reporting that the man may have fallen.

Penloza, who grew up in the town of Valle de Bravo, Mexico, and moved to the United States at 17, was “a compassionate and appreciative person who knew how to enjoy life,” according to his obituary in The Tribune. “He was admired by many and loved fiercely by friends and family who are shocked and heartbroken by his early passing.”

The obituary described Penloza as an avid hiker and climber who loved to play soccer and explore the outdoors with his dog.

“We will miss Ramiro at our dinner table, in our front yard, at family gatherings, in the mountains, and on the soccer field,” the obituary noted.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

Fresno Bee reporter Ashleigh Panoo contributed to this story.