Renowned Ski Mountaineer Hilaree Nelson Found Dead After Fall in Himalayas

Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morisson raising their fists in the air.
Hilaree Nelson and her partner Jim Morrison in 2018Niranjan Shrestha/AP / Shutterstock

Update: This original story was published Sept. 26, when Hilaree Nelson went missing in the Himalayas.

Nepalese rescuers discovered Nelson’s body on Wednesday, Sept. 28, two days after she went missing. Nelson was skiing in the Himalayas with her partner, Jim Morrison. On the descent of Mount Manaslu, Nepal’s eighth-highest peak, Nelson fell and was found some 6,200 feet from the summit.

Words from Morrison were posted to Instagram. This is a tremendous loss for the mountaineering community. Our thoughts are with Morrison and Nelson’s family.

Hilaree Nelson, an accomplished American ski mountaineer and captain of The North Face Athlete Team, has gone missing below Mt. Manaslu in the Himalayas, The Himalayan reports. Nelson was part of a small group, including her partner, Jim Morrison, who were attempting to summit the 26,781-foot mountain and ski back down. According to The Himalayan, Morrison successfully skied down the mountain and returned to base camp along with the other members of the group, but Nelson fell into a crevasse while skiing.

Eyewitness reports suggest the crevasse was deep—over 80 feet—and other news outlets report that an avalanche also took place on the mountain. It’s unclear if Nelson was caught in the slide. So far, rescue operations have been held up due to bad weather.

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According to an Instagram post from Sept. 22, Nelson and her group had made a push for the summit around four days ago but turned back due to deteriorating weather conditions. It appears the group then made a subsequent summit attempt and reached the top on Monday morning before Nelson went missing.

Nelson, a 50-year-old mother of two, is a highly celebrated ski mountaineer with numerous first descents under her belt. Her North Face athlete bio is an impressive read. She was the first woman to link two 8,000-meter peaks, Everest and Lhotse, in one 24-hour journey. In 2017, she and Morrison became the first Americans to summit Papsura, a 21,165-foot mountain in India known as “The Peak of Evil,” and the first people to make a ski descent from the top. In 2018, she returned to Lhotse and became the first person to ski down from its towering 27,940-foot summit.

Her bold high-alpine adventures have earned her numerous accolades. In 2018, she was named the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and became captain of The North Face Athlete Team, an honor held previously by Conrad Anker. She was also named one of the Men’s Journal 25 Most Adventurous Women of the Past 25 Years. Recalling her double ascent of Everest and Lhotse, she was very honest about how grueling these kinds of trips are.

“It was the hardest mental push I have ever made in my life,” she told Men’s Journal. “My mind had to completely take over beyond the physical. I learned a lot about the power of determination.”

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