A snow-covered body found on a mountain in China has been identified as U.S. photographer Charlie Fowler, who disappeared several weeks...

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A snow-covered body found on a mountain in China has been identified as U.S. photographer Charlie Fowler, who disappeared several weeks ago during a climbing trip with the owner of a Seattle adventure-travel company, friends said Thursday.

Fowler and Christine Boskoff, 39, were not roped together when they were buried by an avalanche high on the peak, as friends initially believed they would be, and so the search for Boskoff continued as snow fell Thursday.

“Most likely Chris is somewhere nearby under the snow,” friend Arlene Burns said in a telephone interview from Telluride, Colo. “Charlie was wearing a heavy pack with all of their equipment: food, tent, sleeping bag, everything to set up a high camp. He didn’t have any rope or harness on. The terrain was not technically difficult. They were planning on setting up a camp and going to the summit from there.”

Boskoff, a top climber and the owner of Mountain Madness, the travel company, and Fowler, a well-known climbing guide and photographer from Norwood, Colo., were reported missing after they failed to return to the United States on Dec. 4.

The search was hampered initially because the two did not leave details of where they planned to climb. Searchers eventually located a driver who dropped the pair off near 20,354-foot Genyen Peak, not far from the Sichuan border with Tibet.

Local monks pointed them in the direction the pair had gone, and on Wednesday the searchers spotted a gray boot and blue gaiter sticking out of the snow at nearly 17,400 feet.

Friends and co-workers at Mountain Madness and in Colorado had been working nonstop directing the rescue effort.

“It definitely has knocked the wind out of our sails here,” Burns said.

Fowler’s body was found in an avalanche debris field, Mountain Madness director David Jones said. About 30 searchers — Chinese nationals and Tibetans from local mountaineering associations coordinated by Mountain Madness guide Ted Callahan — spent the day using long fiberglass probes to search for Boskoff.

Callahan will decide when to call off the search for safety reasons, Jones said. New snow could increase the risk of another avalanche. Ten years ago, Mountain Madness founder Scott Fischer died with seven others when a storm hit Mount Everest, a tragedy detailed in Jon Krakauer’s best-seller “Into Thin Air.”

Boskoff bought Mountain Madness in 1997, shortly after Fischer’s death. Company President Mark Gunlogson credited her with turning it from the brink of financial ruin into a profitable enterprise that attracts 700 to 800 clients a year. Climbers pay from several hundred dollars for guided ascents in Washington state to $55,000 for an expedition to Mount Everest.

Boskoff twice reached the peak of Everest and had reached the summits of the tallest peaks on five other continents, but she preferred the unnamed, unclimbed mountains of southwestern China, Jones said.