SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The bodies of a UC San Diego political science grad student who was a member of a local mountaineering group and that of his climbing partner were found in the Peruvian Andes Saturday.
Ben Horne, 32, of La Jolla Shores, a doctoral student in economics at University of California San Diego, and Gil Weiss, 29, of Boulder, Colo., previously from San Diego, died in the thin air of 20,584-foot Palcaraju, a glacier-covered peak in the Cordillera Blanca range.
An eight-man search party on foot and a search plane were dispatched a week ago to look for the mountaineers, who went missing July 11. Their tent was found at an elevation of 16,700 feet on Thursday, and would-be rescuers also found tracks descending from the summit and evidence of an avalanche.
Horne and Weiss were members of The Pullharder Alpine Club, an informal group of about 25 mountain climbers. Its website announced the recovery of the bodies.
"We are very sad to report that we lost two very good friends and amazing climbing partners. We would like to say thank you to everyone who helped in the search effort in the many ways they could. We are proud to be part of such an unbelievable community."
Horne began his climbing career as a Boy Scout and acquired a passion for high-altitude hikes while with the Peace Corps in the Asian Himalayas a decade ago, he told La Jolla Light Newspaper in March.
Horne described high-altitude climbing as "spiritual ... almost a religious experience. ... The mountains are a way for me to understand God, or at least, glimpse a little bit of God."
Horne said Pullharder group's vision was to "push yourself" without cutting corners. "We want to do bigger and harder things, but we want to do them in the right way."
Memorial donations can be made via www.tomnod.com/gi/peru/?vid261.