U.S. ski-mountaineer Hilaree Nelson found dead on Nepal’s Manaslu peak

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Nepalese rescuers discovered the body of a noted American ski climber on Wednesday, two days after she went missing while skiing the world’s eighth highest mountain in Nepal.

Hilaree Nelson, 49, was on her way down the 26,781-foot summit of Mount Manaslu with her partner, Jim Morrison, when she fell.

The helicopter search, which was hampered by inclement weather, found her body about 6,200 feet from the summit, according to Capt. Surendra Poudel of Simrik Air, who recovered the body.

“The body is badly damaged,” he said. “It took an hour and a half to retrieve the body that was half buried in the snow.”

Bigyan Koirala, an official with the Ministry of Tourism, the government agency that issues climbing permits, said the helicopter dropped two high-altitude Sherpa guides and Morrison on Wednesday morning to search for the body.

“The body was about 50 meters from our landing point,” said Poudel. An autopsy was performed at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu.

Based on the details Morrison shared, Nelson slipped on the razor-sharp mountain near the summit and fell down on the south side of the summit. The locals have called Manaslu a “killer mountain” because more than six dozen mountaineers have died on its slopes.

How one of the ‘best’ trails in the Himalayas killed up to 29 hikers

Nelson, who has undertaken about 40 expeditions over the past two decades, is heralded as the “most prolific ski mountaineer of her generation” by one of its sponsors, North Face.

Nelson, a native of Telluride, Colorado, grew up in Seattle and spent weekends on Stevens Pass in Cascades in Washington. North Face says she became addicted to ski mountaineering after visiting Chamonix, a French town at the foot of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc, after college.

In 2012, she became the first woman to climb two of the world’s highest mountains, Mount Everest and neighboring Mount Lhotse, within 24 hours. In 2018, she and Morrison returned to the area and became the first to ski down from the 27,940-meter peak of Lhotse – the fourth-highest mountain in the world, exploits she has detailed on her website.

“It’s hard to climb a 28,000-foot mountain, let alone get your skis there, have the right conditions and be able to make the climb,” she said in a 2019 video of that feat.

Nelson is also credited with inspiring young female climbers. The parent of two boys – born two years apart – she wrote in 2019 about the difficulties balancing her mountaineering career with motherhood. Nelson said she went on an expedition while six months pregnant and got pay cuts because for an elite climber, “being pregnant was treated like an injury.”

A few days before the fall, Nelson wrote on Instagram about the challenges of her latest expedition.

“I didn’t feel as confident on Manaslu as I did on my previous adventure in the thin atmosphere of the high Himalayas. The past few weeks have tested my resilience in new ways,” she wrote. “The constant monsoon with its incessant rain and humidity has left me hopelessly homesick.”

Nelson and her partner gave up trying to reach the top when it became too dangerous to travel between two camps. “We went high and tried, but the mountain said no,” Morrison wrote on Instagram four days ago. “We took tails between our legs from camp 3 and went down.”

Climbers in the area regularly have to deal with changing weather and avalanches. On Monday, an avalanche further up the mountain killed a Nepali guide and injured several other climbers, the Associated Press reported.

Sherpas and climbers described the difficult conditions on social media, as climbers braved bad weather to beat the crowds vying to reach the summit during the peak season for climbing in the fall.

The Nepalese government has issued 504 permits to foreigners seeking to climb the Himalayas this season, most of them for Manaslu, the AP reported. The tourism board did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pannett reported from Sydney, Sangam from Kathmandu, Nepal.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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