Friends missing on Palcaraju


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Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Jul 31, 2012 - 07:07pm PT
I guess the working hypothesis is that they were on that serac and it fractured, pitching them both.


Trad climber
San Diego
Jul 31, 2012 - 09:02pm PT
Recone, the same thoughts went through my mind as well. I only knew Gil as a rock climber and not as an Alpinist. I'd be curious to know what level of formal training he had, or if his climbing experience was gained through his friends. Either way, it doesn't matter any more.

The youtube video is pretty hard to watch. Based on his look, Im pretty sure that's Gil. Might want to put a warning on that. Im sure his family will come here.
Chugach Man

Anchorage / Los Angeles
Jul 31, 2012 - 10:52pm PT
Recone, those guys on Denali do deserve a thank you - ripping on these guys isn't gaining them one though. Gil and Ben were well known in multiple climbing circles, and therefore this story got a lot of publicity. It doesn't detract from anyone else's sad demise in the hills. As for the stake... it may have helped, it may not have. We weren't there, and therefore will never know what happened or what other considerations there were. I know somewhere you can put the stake though... and while you're doing so, let's let this thread be, and these guys rest in peace.

Colin, it wouldn't take you much digging to find out what kind of experience Gil had. He had multiple seasons in South America already, and other routes of similar magnitude. Unfortunately, sometimes you draw the wrong card - it could have been any of us. With respect to training, who knows. I've had both types though, and that gained by one-on-one experience with a friend has proved far more valuable than most "formal" trainings.

People, we go into the mountains accepting the risks. Some people push those limits more than others, but anyone can be unlucky, and anyone can be killed - whether it be pushing hard in the Andes, or on some 5.7 at your local crag. You've accepted that for yourselves by being climbers, I recommend you let the deceased rest, and realize they had to accept that to some level as well.

Ben and Gil, on second thought, screw the resting stuff, I hope you're still finding a way to push your limits and be the amazing souls we knew you as, albeit no longer with us, but rather in a better place.

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Jul 31, 2012 - 10:54pm PT
I second the motion to have Recone hammer a snow stake up his @ss.

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jul 31, 2012 - 10:57pm PT
Monday morning quarterbacking on a memorial thread is a travesty.

Those that do so should be banned from this site.

Shame on you.

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Jul 31, 2012 - 11:10pm PT
Recone, I find your comments to be strange and inappropriate. Give it a rest, please.

I'll add something for those unfamiliar with climbing in the Blanca. TY explains to us that the last photo on the descent was taken at 6 pm. Remember that this is a range close to the Equator, and that it gets pitch dark around 6 pm, maybe just a bit later. They were most likely racing darkness.

Also, darkness falls very quickly there, again because of the latitude of the Blanca, without the drawn out sunset that many of us are used to milking when we complete a day of climbing in North America. These guys must have been exhausted, descending a complicated ridge with plenty of hazards along the way, with rapidly dwindling light, if not in complete darkness. The light of a headlamp shows close features, but not the major features that one would need to see in order to make challenging route finding decisions. Having a headlamp would not give me very much comfort, and might not be all that helpful in getting down in those conditions. These guys must have known this as they were making their descent.

Descending a glaciated ridge, everything looking down such a ridge looks about the same, which is to say it is very difficult to tell which is the safest way down; or for that matter if the next roll in the ridge is gentle or a huge drop off. It is impossible to belay every dangerous inch on a mountain of that scale with that kind of terrain, and in fact is not necessarily the safest approach. Gil and Ben must have been dealing with all of these factors as they were making their way down the ridge.

Tony, you and the others on the mountain after the accident did a very noble act. Much respect to you all, and my sincerest condolences to the families and friends of Ben and Gil.

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.
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