The Himalayan ski season came to an abrupt and devastating end following a series of avalanche incidents on many of 8,000 metre peaks. One of them took the life of a true pioneer in the ski mountaineering world, Hilaree Nelson, who was caught in a small avalanche after skiing from the summit of the 8,163 metre himalayan giant, Manaslu.
Hilaree was swept down the remote south side of the mountain before finally stopping 1,900 metres from the summit. It wasn’t until a few days after the accident before a rescue party, led by her partner, Jim Morison, managed to find her body.
Following the discovery of her body, Hilaree was laid to rest in a traditional Nepalese ceremony yesterday, where her body was cremated in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. Her ashes are planned to be brought back to Telluride where her two sons are currently living.
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The first woman to link both Everest and Lhotse together in 24-hours and the first person, along with Jim, to ski the ski mountaineer’s dream Lhotse Couloir, Hilaree’s career spanned dozens of first descents over more than 40 expeditions covering Baffin, Denali and the Greater Ranges. It’s something she managed to balance alongside being a mother of two sons, Graydon and Quinn.
Chamonix-based UIAGM mountain guide and fellow mother, Caroline George, reflected on the legacy that Hilaree left: “Sitting here, I can’t really think of another mother who has done so much and so big after having children. She is my upward pull. She has legitimised my choices to keep guiding and pursue adventures all the while being a mother.”