Body of famed ski mountaineer recovered in Nepal
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The body of skier Hilaree Nelson, who went missing earlier in the week after a fall near the peak of Mount Manaslu in Nepal, has been found.
Nelson, 49, of Telluride, Colo., was skiing down from the 26,781-foot summit of the mountain with her partner Jim Morrison, of Tahoe City, on Monday when the accident occurred, according to the Associated Press.
Nelson and Morrison reached the summit of Mount Manaslu at 10:42 a.m., Monday, according to an Instagram post by Morrison, and attempted to ski down under windy and cold conditions. Morrison began skiing down first and after a few turns, Nelson followed, but triggered a small avalanche. She would be swept from her feet and carried her down a narrow slope 5,000 feet down the south side of the mountain, according to Morrison’s post.
Unable to locate Nelson or make it down the face where she fell, Morrison went for help, but poor weather on Monday hampered rescue efforts. Improved conditions on Tuesday allowed for rescuers to search for Nelson via helicopter, and on Wednesday morning her body was located and transported to Kathmandu, Nepal.
“There are no words to describe the love for this woman, my life partner, my lover, my best friend, and my mountain partner,” posted Morrison to his Instagram account on Wednesday. “She has been the beacon of light in my life day in and day out … My loss is indescribable and I am focused on her children and their steps forward. (Hilaree Nelson) is the most inspiring person in life and now her energy will guide our collective souls.”
The two climbers attempted to reach the summit of Mount Manaslu last week but decided to ski back down to base camp after determining conditions were too dangerous, according to an Instagram post by Nelson.
“As soon as I made the first turn in the sticky hot pow, in a total white out, all the weight and seriousness that had been plaguing me this whole trip faded to the background,” she wrote about skiing down after last week’s failed summit attempt. “It was full of shenanigans rappelling over seracs with our skis on, posing for pictures with climbers going uphill … We got back to (basecamp) soaking wet, in the pouring rain, just in time for a hearty (basecamp) dinner. Smiling and laughing felt amazing … It amazes me how in these raw and remote places we can find deep connections and friendships.”
Nelson was a mother of two. She was the first woman to link two 8,000-meter peaks, Mount Everest and Lhotse, in one 24-hour push. In 2018, Nelson and Morrison became the first to complete a ski descent of the 27,940-foot Mount Lhotse. That same year she was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. In 2018, she was also named captain of The North Face Athlete Team, and has held the title since.
“Today we lost our hero, mentor, and our friend. Hilaree Nelson held a spirit as big as the places she led us to,” posted The North Face to its social media channels. “She embodied possibility. Her adventures made us feel at home in the vastness of the world.
“For us, Hilaree transcended the idea of an athlete, a sport or a community. She helped lead our family at The North Face, by being a teammate and team captain who changed our perspective of the outdoors by showing us exactly what it can mean. Her light will forever be an offering, and her optimism in the face of adversity, will forever be our guide.”
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