Friends missing on Palcaraju


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Trad climber
Santa Monica, CA
Aug 1, 2012 - 11:42am PT
Climbing is such a unique addiction. There is something to be said about sport where a single false move or misjudgment could lead to death. Everytime we go out to climb, we roll the dice. We assess the risk involved, draw upon our experiences but in the end life and death may be a simple matter of luck. Some climbers choose to embrace the modern ethics of climbing and rise up to the challenges of pushing limits and setting new routes. Some climbers embrace the social aspect of the sport and enjoy casual outings with friends on easy terrain. Some climbers lie in middle. The truth of the matter is this sport is dangerous and at whatever level you climb, there is always risk involved. Gil and Ben pushed the limits of climbing to the extreme. They embodied the mentality of fast and light and if something was too hard, you pulled harder. They served as an inspiration to all climbers at every ability level. When I climb now, they climb with me. Their memory will live on and inspire even as their time on this earth has passed. -Jared

Social climber
State of decay
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2012 - 01:03pm PT
Thank you Cragman and WBW. Your comments and insights are welcomed and you spoke my thoughts eloquently. I have no desire to get into a pissing match with anyone here about climbing style or ones qualifications, visa-vi their climbing resume.

Recone, I have nothing to say to you.

Port, if you read my post up thread you would know.
" I was not present when this(video) was shot. We; Eric, Adam, and members of the Police High Mountain Rescue Group were taking Gil down from high camp @17,200' to the base camp @14, 700' at this moment."

I, along with Eric, Adam, Jared, and Gary Sorenson( who helped with all communications and the over flight) sat down with Mr. Horne and Liora Danan( a very good friend of Ben) and discussed the details of the climb and accident as we know them to be. Mr Horne was very appreciative. He asked pointed questions, which we answered with respect and candor. He was sometimes calm, sometimes emotional, sometimes in tears. He is a father who just lost his son. He is leaning heavily on his Faith to get him through this very difficult time. My good thoughts are with Ben and Gil's families and friends.
I have nothing but admiration for those who helped in bringing Ben and Gil home. Especially, Ted, Jared, Adam, Hector, and Eric.

Big thanks as well to the many friends, here on ST and FB and at home who have personally given their emotional support and good tidings to me; this eased my burden and bolstered those relationships.
I have been climbing in the Blanca for many seasons. I love this place; it's mountains, people, and culture. I will continue to return. As Jared says, "When I climb now, they climb with me. Their memory will live on and inspire even as their time on this earth has passed. -Jared "
Suerte, Peace.
Sunset from col camp, Alpamayo.
Sunset from col camp, Alpamayo.
Credit: TYeary

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Aug 1, 2012 - 01:54pm PT
One thing that struck me most about the video was the obvious strain and exhaustion on Hector's face. This accident must have taken a huge toll on him as well. I have a friend in the Casa de Guias who has done these types of recoveries before. Those guys are super strong, highly trained and very compassionate in my experience.

Tony, you and I apparently share a love of Peru, Peruvians and the Cordillera Blanca. I'm glad to read that you will return after this difficult season. I've lost three friends that I spent time with in Huaraz in climbing accidents in the Blanca, but I never felt that not returning was a good option. Un viaje seguro, amigo.
climbers' mom

Social climber
Wilderness, VA
Aug 1, 2012 - 09:23pm PT
Ron--did anyone answer your question about the company that gathered the data from the satellite photos? 'Sorry didn't see your question sooner--the company is Tomnod, and their site is:
You can find info on their site about how to contact them. Phone: (858) 412-7693, email:

This article also has some names you might want of people in the company.

I'll be watching Tomnod to see your search posted so I can assist in analyzing photos if needed. God be with the missing climber!
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Aug 1, 2012 - 09:28pm PT
Thanks for that picture Tony. It really helps make sense of the whole thing.

Descents can be deadly.

Mountain climber
oakland, california
Aug 2, 2012 - 12:05am PT
Palcaraju from Ranralpaca-Ishinca Col 18 July 2012
Palcaraju from Ranralpaca-Ishinca Col 18 July 2012
Credit: sharperblue
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Aug 2, 2012 - 01:05am PT
That video made me sick. Did not really want to see the body. But I guess that's a good reality check and a reminder to stay alert out there.

May sound f*#ked up, but I really wish it wasn't these guys. Ben was such an interesting person with many talents, seems like his friend was an awesome guy too...very very sad.

Trad climber
Northern California
Aug 2, 2012 - 03:41pm PT
Before this thread degenerates with the vultures relishing the gory details of how a couple good men perished...

I only knew Gil briefly. I never had the pleasure of meeting Ben - I wish I had - he sounded like a warm individual who brightened the lives of many people here. Gil and I crossed paths for about a month or two - he had just hooked up with the pullharder circle down in SD. The one thing that struck me was what an incredibly motivated individual he was. Even after moving away, I kept following his awesome trip reports on Facebook - it was awesome route after awesome route. He was an inspiration for me to keep dreaming of amazing adventures in the mountains. Many things in life keep you from the mountains. Eventually the years pass by. But Gil and Ben (as a PhD graduate student!) made it happen - traveling to Andes. I was sad to see this tragic ending. It's heartbreaking. I realize this must be a tough time for the crew down in SD.


Social climber
State of decay
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 3, 2012 - 08:16am PT
Jared's perspective and the last word. Good reading.

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Aug 3, 2012 - 09:37am PT
Thanks for sharing that, Tony.

Proud of you all....


Trad climber
Idyllwild, California
Aug 3, 2012 - 05:25pm PT
My condolences to the family and friends. It's hard to lose young, vibrant and happy people.

Tony, so proud to know you. There are good people everywhere and you are the best example of goodnesss one can find. Awesome on all of you who helped to bring them back to their families.
Eric Tomczak

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Aug 10, 2012 - 11:09am PT
All of you here on Supertopo are just absolutely incredible. I was on the original search & recovery team that found, and brought out Ben and Gil. I was in contact with Ted via sat phone and got the info you guys were giving about things spotted in sat photos. What ended up answering the question was just simple observation and a little luck, but your information was greatly appreciated.

I just returned to the US and am blown away by how many people cared about, and invested their time into looking for, Ben and Gil. Even from thousands of miles away. All of you guys are awesome, thank you so much for your help in finding our friends.

Keep it up, this is a beautiful show of community from the climbing world.
Asa Firestone

Big Wall climber
Boulder, CO
Aug 13, 2012 - 07:39pm PT
If you are in Boulder, you may consider taking part in these gatherings:
noriko nakagawa

Trad climber
eldorado springs co
Aug 13, 2012 - 08:34pm PT
Eric, I just read your letter to pullharder. I am grateful for the assistance that you, Asa, Ted, Hector, Henry and the other members of the ground search crew provided. You put your own lives at risk to bring closure to the family and friends of Ben and Gil.

Trad climber
Fumbling towards stone
Aug 14, 2012 - 12:47pm PT
This continues to be such a wrenching tragedy on many levels. My heart and prayers are still going out to Ben and Gil's families, friends, acquaintances and beyond.

In particular, I'm feeling with you Tony. I know this is not the first time you've been down this road. Your efforts here... well, I'm sure we all are very grateful for them. Glad you were there to help out as best you could. Do take care of yourself and reach out if needed. This is a lot to handle and we want you healthy and coming home safe and sound too.

Nate Ricklin

San Diego
Aug 15, 2012 - 06:39pm PT
still can't believe this shit

Trad climber
Mountain View
Nov 7, 2012 - 05:20pm PT
A good story from Scotty:

The call came the way we always imagine it will, but never expect. Itís Asa. Heís concerned about Gil, he hasnít heard from him in awhile. He lays the cold hard facts out, one by one. Gil and Ben are several days overdue in Peru. Gilís flight is scheduled to leave in a few days, but no one has heard from them. They are probably fine, he emphasizes, but just in case heís working to organize a search team. Weíll all have a good laugh when we get to the bottom of this, he assures me. I listen, and speak some words, but we both know heís dealing from a stacked deck. I hang up, and collapse into tears.

A route climbed in honor of Gil and Ben.


Social climber
State of decay
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 7, 2012 - 05:35pm PT
Outstanding guys!
It's almost been four months and I am still processing my small role in this tragedy.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Nov 7, 2012 - 05:41pm PT
What a great tribute. Perfect idea,
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Nov 7, 2012 - 06:27pm PT
Beautiful TR.
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