Colorado mom-of-two is missing after reaching summit of Mount Manaslu

Author: Yuvi September 27, 2022


A celebrated American mountaineer is missing after summiting a Himalayan mountain, and falling into a crevasse 15 minutes later as she skied down.

Hilaree Nelson, 49, disappeared on Monday morning while skiing down Mount Manaslu with her boyfriend, Jim Morrison. He continued to the base camp to report her missing, but rescue attempts have been hampered by poor weather, meaning helicopters cannot access the remote and extremely high site.

Elsewhere on the mountain, at least one person was killed in an avalanche on Monday, and 12 people trapped – four of them critically injured, according to reports.

One eyewitness to Nelson’s descent told The Himalaya Times that she fell around 80 feet into a vertical crevasse, which was 2,000ft deep. It was not known if she survived the initial fall.

Nelson, based in Telluride, Colorado, lives with her sons Quinn, 15, and 13-year-old Graydon – the boys live with Nelson’s ex-husband while she is away.

She was the first woman to climb two 8,000-meter peaks – Everest and Lhotse – in one 24-hour push.

Hillaree Nelson, 49, is pictured with her boyfriend Jim Morrison. The pair reached the summit of Mount Manaslu on Monday morning, but she reportedly fell into a crevasse while skiing down

Nelson posted a photo on Friday of his failed attempt to reach the summit, and said she was finding conditions challenging - but loved the ski back down

Nelson posted a photo on Friday of his failed attempt to reach the summit, and said she was finding conditions challenging – but loved the ski back down

Morrison echoed Nelson, saying his attempt to reach the top was tough - but the return was a joy

Morrison echoed Nelson, saying his attempt to reach the top was tough – but the return was a joy

She returned to Nepal in 2018 with Morrison, and the pair became the first to successfully ski down Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest peak at 27,940 feet.

Nelson is seen as a pioneering, trail-blazing mountaineer

Nelson is seen as a pioneering, trail-blazing mountaineer

They then decided to ski down another 8,000-meter peak, Manaslu, – not a record attempt, but still considered extremely challenging.

On Friday, Nelson and Morrison tried to make it to the summit, but failed.

‘I haven’t felt as sure-footed on Manaslu as I have on past adventure into the thin atmosphere of the high Himalaya,’ Nelson posted on Instagram.

‘These past weeks have tested my resilience in new ways. 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.

‘Yesterday we ended our summit bid when we decided it was too dangerous to move from C3 to C4.

‘We later decided to ski down from C3 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. It was the best thing we could’ve done.’

Nelson is pictured in the Himalayas on a previous trip

Nelson is pictured in the Himalayas on a previous trip

Morrison, pictured with Nelson on her 38th birthday, skied down the mountain on Monday to raise the alarm after she fell

Morrison, pictured with Nelson on her 38th birthday, skied down the mountain on Monday to raise the alarm after she fell

The Colorado-based couple travel the world together seeking new mountaineering challenges

The Colorado-based couple travel the world together seeking new mountaineering challenges

She then described the sheer joy of skiing down the mountain.

‘As soon as I made the first turn in the sticky hot pow, in a total white out, all the weight and seriousness that had been plaguing me this whole trip faded to the background.

‘With @jimwmorrison we skied about 4500 ft of the 6000 ft descent to BC.

‘It was full of shenanigans rappelling over seracs with our skis on, posing for pictures with climbers going uphill.’

She said their team was ‘laughing, racing, and generally just finally being present and actually seeing what I have been seeing for weeks but not absorbing (hope that makes sense).’

Nelson concluded:’Smiling and laughing felt amazing!’

The pair are pictured campaigning for governments to take action on climate change

The pair are pictured campaigning for governments to take action on climate change

Morrison also documented the failed Friday attempt.

‘We went up high and tried hard but the mountain said no,’ he wrote.

‘Tails between our legs we bailed from camp 3 and headed down, (on skis).

‘What we weren’t prepared for was the shear elation of skiing. I love skiing pow. At home and at 7000 meters.

‘We skied down to base camp, had some @tincupwhiskey and our smiles ear to ear are headed back up.

‘My skis were amazing in some wild conditions and I really hope we can ski off the summit this time.’

Nelson’s friends, family, peers and admirers were all praying for a miracle and her safe return.

North Face, her sponsor, said: ‘With a career spanning two decades that includes dozens of first descents through more than 40 expeditions to 16 different countries, Hilaree Nelson is the most prolific ski mountaineer of her generation.’

Nelson last month said: ‘[Climbing] has significantly shaped who I am, the places I’ve traveled with, the people with whom I’ve been privileged to share climbing experiences with.

‘From terror to triumph, tears to laughter, solitude to partnership, it’s been a path of joy, one that I hope to share with others.’

In 2018 she was recognized as a National Geographic adventurer of the year after summiting and skiing down Papsura, known as the Peak of Evil, in India and then doing the same on Denali in Alaska.

Asked at the time what her children thought of their mother’s adventurous life, she told The Outside Journal: ‘Skiing and mountain climbing to them, it has always just been a part of their lives as long as they can remember.

‘I don’t think they fully appreciate the dangers of it, but I also think they understand that it is dangerous.

‘I don’t know if they are okay with it, but it’s just what I do, and they love what I do.’

She spoke of the joy of being in the mountains with her children, and said her career enhanced their lives.

‘It has taken a long time for me to realize that having my job and being a mother has been beneficial to my kids for them to see me be a person, individually, and trust in that,’ she said.

‘It was a struggle for me for a long time that I was hurting my kids by continuing my profession.

‘But I see now their joy and their support for what I do, and we can have rational conversations about it. I see that they are proud of me.

‘I see that they appreciate what I do, and see me as a person.

‘So I think it has all been worth it, but it wasn’t without a lot of tears and a lot of difficult times.’

Alexander Pancoe – one of only 16 Americans to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam of reaching the North and South Pole and all of the Seven Summits – tweeted: ‘Tragic. Hoping for a miracle – I’ve been mesmerized by Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison since I first discovered my love of climbing.’

Nick Heil, who wrote Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season, said: ‘Oh no. This does not sound good.’

Another admirer, Dash Hegeman, tweeted: ‘I had the pleasure of working with her on a project before. Such an amazing person! Really hoping for a positive outcome. The world needs more Hilaree Nelson’s…not less.’

27 September, 2022, 6:37 am

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Tuesday, 27th September 2022

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