On Saturday afternoon, July 28, the bodies of two missing climbers, from Boulder and San Diego, were found in the Peruvian Andes, ending an exhaustive search effort. Together, Ben Horne and Gil Weiss had been attempting the first ascent of the south face of Palcaraju Oeste, a 6110m peak, roughly 275 miles northeast of Lima, Peru. The pair were found at the base of the Southwest ridge, their descent route off a new line they climbed up the south face.
Weiss and Horne had been out of touch with friends and family since July 11 when they began their attempt on Palcaraju. Days over-due, friends and family established a website to help in the search and rescue efforts and accept donations in support of their families. Eventually, a three-man team found Weiss and Horne’s bodies. Ted Alexander, the rescue coordinator, estimated that the men fell nearly 1,000 feet.
Asa Firestone, Weiss’ close friend, told Alpinist, “Gil and Ben lived by the philosophy that glorious failure is better than mediocre success. They always went big, but they were never reckless.” He had joined Weiss on an attempt on the same peak in June, but they had turned back due to weather. Although the Palcaraju trip would mark Horne’s first trip to the area, Weiss was well versed in the fickle environment of the Peruvian Andes. According to Shay Har-Noy, a close friend of the two, Horne and Weiss were fit and highly experienced mountaineers. Both men had climbed new routes and devoted much of their lives to climbing.
Eight people have died this year in the Cordillera Blanca range.
Olivia Gualda in a post of Gil’s facebook page: “Today is a sad day. Today we have to say goodbye to two incredible men dear to us, Ben Horne and Gil Weiss.” They will be missed sorely.