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The 49 Year Old Celebrity Ski Mountaineer Hilaree Nelson’s Body Found in Nepal

The body of renowned American ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson was found Wednesday in Nepal and taken to a forensic laboratory in Kathmandu for an autopsy, according to Sachindra Kumar Yadav, an official with the tourism department, Nepal. She was 49 years old. 

The 49 Year Old Celebrity Ski Mountaineer Hilaree Nelson’s Body Found in Nepal

On Monday, US climber Hilaree Nelson O’Neill and her partner Jim Morrison reached the 26781-foot summit of Manaslu, the world’s eighth highest mountain. She disappeared soon after she started skiing. Even though Authorities started a helicopter search immediately after they knew about the incident, the bad weather delayed the rescue mission. 

Hilaree Nelson

Another person also died and more than a dozen were injured in an avalanche further down the same peak, on the same day. While search operations were restricted by bad weather on Monday, Nepalese rescuers were able to use a helicopter to search for Ms. Nelson on Tuesday morning.

One of the climbers injured in the avalanche, Phurte Sherpa, told the Associated Press that two unsuccessful helicopter search attempts had been made earlier to rescue Hilaree Nelson.

She slipped and appeared to fall into a 2,000-foot (600-m) hole in the ice, known as a crevasse, just 15 minutes after reaching the top of the 26,781-foot peak, according to eyewitnesses.

A local guide who had been working with the couple told the media that other climbers with them reported that “her ski blade slipped and Nelson fell on the other side of the peak.” Her partner, Jim Morrison, was reportedly able to return to the camp safely after the incident. 

Hilaree Nelson Died

Ms. Nelson and Mr. Morrison are among the world’s foremost mountain climbers and cross-country skiers. Based in the US state of Colorado in the Rocky Mountains, the romantic couple have skied some of the highest and most imposing peaks in the world. Nelson already completed more than 40 expeditions to 16 countries around the world. In 2012, she became the first woman to reach two 8,000 m peaks, Everest and Lhotse, in 24 hours. 

​​“She’s seen as this athlete, trying to maximize her physical capabilities, but to me she was very soulful,” says Taylor Rees, a filmmaker who collaborated with Hilaree on several projects. “She faced her challenges and demons with such honesty and vulnerability and grace.” Tylor added.

The Adventurous Career

Nelson was born on December 13, 1972, and grew up in Seattle. She started skiing at the age of three in Stevens Pass. She was in a romantic relationship with fellow skier Jim Morrison and the couple has two children. 

Nelson received a National Geographic Explorers Grant, has been a member of over 40 expeditions, and has made her first ski descents in Baffin and South Georgia Islands, Argentina, Kamchatka, Russia, Tetons, etc. Additionally, her writing has appeared in publications such as National Geographic Adventure, The Ski Journal, Outside Journal, and more.

Notable Achievements of Hilaree Nelson

  • 2018 – First ski descent of the Dream Line (from summit), Lhotse Couloir, Nepal
  • 2017 – First ski descent of Papursa Peak, India.
  • 2015 – First female descent of Makalu La Couloir, Nepal, 2015
  • First to ski all five “Holy Peaks”, Mongolian Altai
  • 2012 – First female to climb Everest and Lhotse in 24 hours, Nepal, May 25th, the same year
  • 2005 – Skied from the summit of Cho Oyu, Tibet.
  • 2011 – Skied from the summit of Denali, Messner Couloir, USA.
  • First female descent of Bubble Fun Couloir, Tetons, USA
  • 1996 – European Women’s Extreme Skiing Champion
  • She is named one of “The Most 25 Adventurous Women of the Past 25 Years” by Men’s Journal.
  • Named one of National Geographic’s 2018 Adventurers of the Year

Her death is a tragic loss for the world of mountaineering and our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time. ANC will update more details soon.

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