Holidaymaker, 25, dies on ‘volcano from hell’ after falling while scaling 15,400ft peak in Ecuador

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Holidaymaker, 25, dies on ‘volcano from hell’ after falling while scaling 15,400ft peak in Ecuador

  • Gil Banks was climbing Rucu Pichincha near the capital Quito when he fell
  • He grew up in Glasgow but is believed to have moved to Israel with his family
  • Friends have paid tribute to the keen triathlete and runner following the tragedy

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A Scots holidaymaker has died after plunging off a volcano in Ecuador.

Gil Banks, 25, was climbing Rucu Pichincha near the capital Quito when he fell to his death on Sunday. 

One eminent geographer previously described hellish scenes in its crater as like the ‘underworld’.¬†

A steam explosion from the crater also killed two scientists in 2000. Mr Banks grew up in Glasgow but is understood to have relocated to Caesarea in Israel with his family some years ago. 

Gil Banks died after plunging off a volcano in Ecuador

Gil Banks died after plunging off a volcano in Ecuador

The Israeli Embassy in Ecuador confirmed his death in a statement.

It said: ‘We express our solidarity for this sensitive loss and extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends.’¬†

Mr Banks attended Mearns Castle High School in Newton Mearns, Renfrewshire. 

Friends paid tribute to the triathlete and keen runner. Triathlon coach Eduardo Finkelstein said: ‘I remember him, with his wild red hair and great smile… he was an extraordinary runner. My sincerest condolences for the family at this time.¬†

‘You have my deepest sympathy and unwavering support. Wishing you peace, comfort, courage and lots of love at this time of sorrow. My heart goes out to you at this difficult time.’

Neighbour and friend Michael Sapir described Mr Banks as a ‘remarkable young man’.¬†

1660824902 349 Holidaymaker 25 dies on volcano from hell after falling while

1660824902 349 Holidaymaker 25 dies on volcano from hell after falling while

He said that Mr Banks was ‘an incredible athlete. Smart and ambitious. Warm and generous with a big friendly heart to all who knew him’.¬†

Childhood friend Oz Hochman said that Mr Banks was ‘a perfect and loving friend’.¬†

He added: ‘It was a great honour and fun for me to be part of his journey that was supposed to end completely differently.

‘I can’t believe I’m separating from you but, on the other hand, I know that experiences with you will accompany me until the end of the world.’¬†

The summit of Rucu Pichincha stands at 15,413ft (4,698m). It is an active volcano which last erupted in 1998. 

The first recorded ascent of the volcano’s higher peak, Guagua Pichincha, at 15,696ft (4,784m), was in 1582 by a group of locals.¬†

Almost two centuries later, the volcano was the site of pioneering work by French geographer Charles-Marie de La Condamine, who made the ‘underworld’ parallel.¬†

He and members of the French Geodesic Mission spent 23 days on the summit of Rucu Pichincha as part of their work on calculating the length of a degree of latitude. 

Pichincha’s most recent eruption, which began in August 1998, saw Quito city below covered in several inches of ash.¬†

Prior to that, a major eruption occurred in 1660, when 12 inches of ash fell. The mountain was considered sacred by indigenous people. 

Its southern slopes were also the site of the Battle of Pichincha in 1822 in the Spanish American wars of independence.