Hilaree Nelson, an American ski mountaineer, died on September 26, 2022, while skiing Mount Manaslu in Nepal with her partner.
The 49-year-old was reportedly skiing down the 8,163-meter (26,775-foot) summit when she was caught in a small avalanche. Due to bad weather conditions, rescuers were unable to find her body until the 28th of September. Alongside Nelson, multiple other mountaineers were caught in the avalanche and lost their lives.
“One of our friends died in the avalanche and there has been efforts to retrieve the body but the rescue helicopter has not been able to do so yet,” said Phurte Sherpa, a victim of the avalanche. “Others injured ones have broken hands and feet.”
At the time of the search and rescue, Sherpa reported that Nelson’s partner Jim Morrison was alongside the team throughout the entire process. “I am not sure about the whereabouts of the missing climber but her husband (partner) was with us during the search (today). We made two helicopter rescue attempts to find her but were unable,” Sherpa added.
Two days after she was reported missing, the mountaineer’s body was found and brought back to Kathmandu, where she was cremated. Following her death, fellow mountaineers were outspoken about their grief and celebrated Nelson’s life.
Celebrating the inspiring life of Hilaree Nelson
“She was a ground-breaking mountain sports athlete, and she did it with grace and a big smile. Hilaree’s influence cannot be overstated,” Dave Watson, an international mountain guide, said of Nelson.
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Swedish climber and adventure athlete, Maria Granberg also celebrated Nelson’s life, noting her significance as an inspiring female athlete.
“She led expeditions reaching out a hand to the younger generation to follow, showing the ropes, and our future selves got the memo of how to show up as an athlete and human being,” Granberg relayed. “In the most human way, she paved the way and shed a light on everything that we as female athletes aspire to become, by creating a life and career colored by grace, grit, and wild aspirations.”
Nelson, who was a Seattle native, leaves behind her partner James Morrison and two children. She is known as the first woman to climb both the world’s highest mountains, Everest and Lhotse, in a 24-hour period of time. Her legacy as a climber is substantial and she will be sorely missed.
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