8th-Highest Peak Claims Pioneering US Mountaineer

Body of Hilaree Nelson recovered from Nepal's Mount Manaslu, from which she fell on Monday
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2022 12:31 AM CDT
Updated Sep 28, 2022 7:16 AM CDT
Famed US Mountaineer Missing After She Slips, Falls Into Crevasse
Jim Morrison, second right, mourns as the body of his partner and famed US extreme skier, Hilaree Nelson, arrives in a helicopter at a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.   (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Update: The death of US ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson has been confirmed with the recovery of her body from the world's eighth-highest peak. The 49-year-old fell down the southern side of Nepal's 26,781-foot Mount Manaslu after leaving the summit on Monday. Her partner, Jim Morrison, who was with her, joined two sherpa guides in searching for her on Wednesday, after fruitless searches the two previous days. Her "badly damaged" body was found partially buried in snow 6,200 feet from the summit, Capt. Surendra Poudel of Simrik Air tells the Washington Post. Nelson was transported to a hospital in Kathmandu, where Morrison was seen carrying her from a helicopter. An autopsy is planned, per the AP. Our original story from Tuesday follows:

Professional ski mountaineer and North Face Athlete Team captain Hilaree Nelson is missing after an accident in the Himalayas on Monday. Nelson, a 49-year-old mother of two who lives in Telluride, Colo., reached the summit of Nepal's Mount Manaslu, the world's eighth-tallest peak, with partner Jim Morrison and was 15 minutes into her descent when the accident took place, the BBC reports. The managing director of the local guiding company working with Nelson and Morrison tells Outside that his crew told him "her ski blade skidded off and [she] fell off the other side of the peak," disappearing into a deep crevasse. Morrison skied down to seek help, the Seattle Times reports.

Bad weather has hindered search efforts. Also Monday, an avalanche lower down on the mountain killed one person and injured 14 others when it swept away a climbing party. The North Face, which sponsors Nelson, says in a statement cited by Colorado's 9 News, "We are in touch with Hilaree’s family and are supporting global search and rescue efforts any way we can." "I haven’t felt as sure-footed on Manaslu as I have on past adventure into the thin atmosphere of the high Himalaya. These past weeks have tested my resilience in new ways," Nelson posted on Instagram Thursday. "The constant monsoon with its incessant rain and humidity has made me hopelessly homesick. I am challenged to find the peace and inspiration from the mountain when it’s been constantly shrouded in mist."

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She said that the day prior, they'd decided to end a bid for the summit because it seemed it would be too risky, "knowing that would mean carrying our skis all the way back up the mountain again if, big if here, we try again for a summit." Nelson and Morrison are some of the most accomplished backcountry skiers and alpinists around the globe, becoming in 2018 the first people to ski down Nepal's Mount Lhotse, the fourth-highest peak in the world. Nelson is the first woman to summit both Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse in a 24-hour period. (Read more Mount Manaslu stories.)

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