Rescuers Find Body of U.S. Mountaineer Hilaree Nelson After Going Missing While Skiing

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Geir Pettersen

Rescuers have recovered the body of American ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson. Her remains were found via a helicopter in Nepal after the woman disappeared while skiing on the nearby mountain, Manaslu. 

According to the Associated Press, rescuers found the 49-year-old on Wednesday after bad weather made search-and-recovery efforts difficult. According to ABC News, rescuers used a high line drop to retrieve Hilaree Nelson’s body. After, they transported her body to a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. Once there, doctors performed an autopsy. 

Before the tragedy, Nelson and her partner Jim Morrison ascended Manaslu’s peak on Monday. The mountain shoots up 26,781 feet. It’s also the eighth-tallest peak in the world. Nelson and Morrison reached the peak with the help of three Sherpa guides before they attempted to ski down the summit. 

However, less than 20 minutes after the couple began the descent, they radioed the manager of expedition organizers Shangri-La Nepal Trek to relay that Nelson had fallen into a 2,000-foot crevasse, according to reports. 

“The duo reached the true summit of Manaslu at 11.30 A.M. local time. And about 15 minutes later, I got a call from our staff at Base Camp that her ski blade skidded off and [she] fell off the other side of the peak,” Jiban Ghimire, director of Shangri-La Nepal Trek, said on Monday.

Hilaree Nelson, world-class skier and mountaineer dies following plunge into deadly crevasse

In addition, a witness said that Nelson appeared to plunged roughly 80 feet into the crevasse during the tragedy. 

Brazillian runner Fernanda Maciel, who was on the mountain on Monday, wrote in an Instagram post that Nelson came across an avalanche near the summit, ultimately leading to her demise. 

In the caption, Maciel wrote that she had turned down the mountain after another avalanche on the mountain hit a climbing expedition, killing one person and injuring 14 more. 

“And the worst was that @hilareenelson was caught by another avalanche just below the summit,” Maciel wrote. She added that she spent time with Morrison on Monday attempting to locate a helicopter for a rescue mission.

“Jim just got into a helicopter now to try to find [Nelson] on the mountain,” Maciel added in the post. 

Hilaree Nelson, a native of Telluride was the first woman to climb two 8,000-meter mountain peaks after she successfully summited both Mt. Everest and Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest peak, in under 24 hours. 

Nelson and Morrison were also the first people to ski down from Lhotse’s peak in 2018 successfully. Her website also adds that she was named National Geographic‘s 2018 Adventurer of the Year.

Her website also states that the mother of two was “an avid proponent of wild places such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and holds to the philosophy that these places have huge significance in the well-being of both the planet and the human psyche.”