Rice community mourns loss of alumnus Ben Horne ’02

The Rice community is mourning the loss of alumnus Ben Horne ’02, who died mountain climbing in Peru.

Ben Horne photos

On left: Horne's Rice yearbook photo. On right: Horne's Facebook photo.

Horne and his friend Gil Weiss had not been heard from in nearly two weeks when search crews discovered their bodies on Saturday. The pair, who were experienced climbers, apparently fell to their deaths while descending Palcaraju Oeste mountain in Peru.  According to the Washington Post, Horne, 32, posted on a website for climbing enthusiasts that the two were attempting to ascend the mountain’s 20,000-foot peak.

Upon learning of Horne’s death over the weekend, Rice President David Leebron tweeted, “[I’m] deeply saddened by the tragic death of Ben Horne ’02 while climbing Palcaraju in Peru. An extraordinary and thoughtful man.”

Horne graduated from Rice with a B.A. in mathematical economic analysis. While at Rice, he was heavily involved in campus activities, including serving as Student Association treasurer, station manager at KTRU, co-director of the Catholic Student Association, a member of the multicultural group ADVANCE, captain of the bike team, as well as serving on the cabinet at Wiess College.

After graduating, Horne served in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan, where he learned alpine climbing. At the time of his death, he was finishing his Ph.D. in economics at UC-San Diego. According to news reports, Horne had hoped to become a university professor.

Horne’s extraordinary mountain climbing achievements and adventures were to be featured in an upcoming issue of Rice Magazine, the university’s quarterly flagship publication. Editor Lynn Gosnell said that she still plans to run his story.

The sad news came as the Rice community was still mourning the loss of Adilet Imambekov, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy.  Imambekov, 30, died the week of July 16 while climbing the Khan Tengri Mountain in his home country of Kazakhstan.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.