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2 American climbers found dead in Peruvian mountains

From Marilia Brocchetto, CNN
updated 10:41 AM EDT, Sun July 29, 2012
The bodies of missing hikers Gil Weiss, left, and Ben Horne were found in the mountains of Peru.
The bodies of missing hikers Gil Weiss, left, and Ben Horne were found in the mountains of Peru.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Deceased climber Gil Weiss "will inspire me forever," his sister says
  • He and Ben Horne had been climbing in the Andes and were missing for between 5-10 days
  • Hundreds looked through satellite images for clues, while crews searched on the ground
  • A friend calls them "two of the most amazing guys" he has ever spent time with

(CNN) -- The bodies of two American climbers were discovered Saturday afternoon in the mountains of Peru, ending a days-long search for the men, friends and family said.

Shay Har-Noy, who heads the technology company Tomnod that uses satellite imagery, said his friends Ben Horne and Gil Weiss had been attempting to scale the south face of Palcaraju Oeste. That 6,110-meter (20,000-foot) tall mountain is located in a region popular with climbers in Huaraz province about 275 miles northeast of Lima.

"These are two of the finest climbers we have known ... embodying the spirit of the mountains with every thing they did," an announcement on Tomnod's site said. "Many of us have had the honor of sharing in their love for the wilderness, and that lives on."

Weiss -- founder of Beyond Adventure, a company consisting of professional guides, logistical experts and photographers -- posted June 11 on his Facebook page that he was leaving Boulder, Colorado, for Peru "for another season in the High Andes."

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On July 10, Horne posted pictures and a chronicle of their experiences on the climbing blog Pullharder.org.

"The Cordillera Blanca is world renowned for its high altitude mountaineering," he wrote. "But almost as awesome as the mountains themselves is the motley crew of international climbers who come to try their hand at getting high, on big peaks, cheap and fast."

According to a blog post on Tomnod's site Saturday, Weiss and Horne were missing for the past five to 10 days.

Kari Tenjford, a friend of theirs, wrote on his Facebook page that a search team found the two climbers' tent, as well as tracks up the glacier and "tracks on the descent ridge."

Har-Noy said he enlisted the help of climbers and technology experts alike to find the pair using an application he built, with hundreds of people at one point poring through satellite images looking for signs of an avalanche. That information was then sent to search and rescue crews in Peru, said Har-Noy.

Another friend, Asa Firestone, said the climbers' bodies were ultimately found "after what looks to be a fall from the (southwest) ridge on their descent."

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"They were truly two of the most amazing guys I have ever had the pleasure to spend time with," Firestone wrote on Facebook. "They shared a passion for adventure that they expressed so brilliantly in their blog ... and in all of their cutting edge ascents around the world."

Horne and Weiss were extremely fit and experienced climbers, both having practiced the sport from more than a decade, according to Har-Noy. Weiss had been to Peru several times before, though this was Horne's first such visit.

"Gil meant the world to me, our family and friends," Gil's sister Galit Weiss told CNN by e-mail. "I continue to love Gil, and he will inspire me forever."

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CNN's Claudia Dominguez contributed to this report.

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