Hilaree Nelson
September 28, 2022 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Hilaree Nelson, a groundbreaking mountaineer and skier, has died from an avalanche driven fall on Mount Manaslu. She was the first woman to summit two 8000m or higher peaks in a 24 hour period (Everest and the nearby Lhotse), and - along with her partner Jim Morrison - completed the first ski descent of the 27,940-foot Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world, down the insane Lhotse Couloir (video - decent starts around 17:45 in the video) She was National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year in 2018 and they have published a remembrance.

She was also the captain of the North Face Athlete Team - her athlete biography and list of accomplishments. She was 49 years old.
posted by inflatablekiwi (17 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Carillon at 11:21 AM on September 28

posted by KillaSeal at 11:40 AM on September 28

She sounds like an incredible, brave, enormously accomplished woman. I'm not a skier or mountaineer by any stretch but the story about her disappearance caught my eye the other day and I spent some time reading more about her. This piece in particular is tough to read right now - it talks about how she balanced her pursuits with being a parent. By the dates given in the piece her sons are probably about 11 and 13 now.

Everyone makes their own choices, and everyone has their own passions. I know it's not for me to say that people should give up the dangerous thing that makes them feel alive if they become a parent, even if it seems like the prudent thing to do. But as the parent of two young kids myself, this really breaks my heart - for her, for her kids, and for her partner. (And I would say the same thing if Nelson had been a father taking these same risks.)

posted by Synesthesia at 11:50 AM on September 28 [9 favorites]

posted by lazaruslong at 1:10 PM on September 28

An extraordinary person. Very sad. Her partner, Jim Morrison, lost his wife and two kids in a plane crash prior to his relationship with Nelson so this additional loss is unfathomable.
posted by scantee at 1:35 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]

posted by JoeXIII007 at 1:53 PM on September 28

posted by riruro at 1:55 PM on September 28

posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 1:56 PM on September 28


Back circa 1991 or so a couple of friends and I ran the Ocoee in kayaks at way north of twenty thousand cubic feet per second. I got off that river knowing that I hadn't found my limit, but that when I did it would kill me, and I no longer needed to go searching for it.

I am sad that she found hers.
posted by straw at 2:05 PM on September 28 [11 favorites]

posted by mersen at 2:25 PM on September 28

My current boss is planning on going climbing in the Himalayas in two weeks (not Everest, another mountain). She's a very experienced climber but as this shows, that doesn't always save you.

I do feel for her family but she died doing something she loved. I hope that comforts them.
posted by emjaybee at 3:12 PM on September 28

That video about the Lhotse summit/ski run is lovely. Thank you for it.

Years ago, I read about book by a herpetologist about their work. Herpetologists die due to snake bites pretty often. It's the other profession/vocation besides mountain climbing that strikes me as having a similar likelihood of dying doing something you love.

I'm sorry for loss her loved ones are experiencing.

I've come across some writing in recent months about search and rescue people working on addressing the trauma of their work, maybe/probably here at Metafilter. Here is one article from Outside magazine that addresses the issue. I always think of those people as well when someone dies or is badly injured doing something in the wild.
posted by Well I never at 5:31 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]

Jim Morrison posted an update to instagram and it’s just so sad. There was some more detail I haven't included below from others in the recovery of Hilaree’s remains. But suffice to say that recovery efforts at 22,000 feet, digging the body of someone you love out from under ice in dangerous conditions, is a powerful mix of love, devotion, energy, teamwork, bravery, skill, and luck, and probably a bunch more things.

There are no words to describe the love for this woman, my life partner, my lover, my best friend, and my mountain partner.
She has been the beacon of light in my life day in and day out.
On September 26th at 10:42 am we reached the true summit of Manaslu in tough conditions. We quickly transitioned from climbing to skiing in cold and wind with a plan to ski around the corner and regroup with our Sherpa team. I skied first and after a few turns Hilaree followed and started a small avalanche. She was swept off her feet and carried down a narrow snow slope down the south side (opposite from climbing route) of the mountain over 5000: 1 did everything I could to locate her but was unable to go down the face as I hoped to find her alive and live my life with her.
I spent the last two days searching from the air in a helicopter.
Today with the help of @capt_surendra an incredibly skilled pilot we were able to land at 22,000 feet and search for her. @nimsdai was instrumental in helping organize the best team and resources possible and I found her body with the aid of @mt.sherpa today at 10:30 am. I'm in Kathmandu with her and her spirit.
My loss is indescribable and I am focused on her children and their steps forward. @hilareenelson is the most inspiring person in life and now her energy will guide our collective souls.
A Peace be with us all. Pray for her family and community which is broadly stretched across our planet.
I'm devastated by the loss of her.

posted by inflatablekiwi at 7:55 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]

posted by CostcoCultist at 9:01 PM on September 28


She was an incredible athlete (captain of the North Face Athlete team, national geographic expiditioner etc) who pushed the boundaries of what is possible. She led groundbreaking expeditions over the last 20+ years, and more importantly mentored so many women in the field. I've been reading the tributes from so many women in the mountaineering community and it's remarkable how many she reached, taught, mentored. It was important for her to grow community. And it was important for her to set the precedent for other women with family in the field. When asked why she spent so much time mentoring others...

"It's much easier to be something when you see the path put down by women before you"

Rest in peace Hilaree, you died following your passion and changing your world.
posted by larthegreat at 1:25 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]

Mountains don’t care about what any guide or climber thinks. If we can’t respect that, we shouldn’t climb them. That slope that killed the climbers on Manaslu slides virtually every snow storm, and has gone that big many times in the past. Seracs fall, and if the slopes they fall on are loaded with enormous amounts of warm, heavy snow, they will avalanche. Rolling the dice is part of what climbers do, but without respect for what we are rolling the dice over, we are doomed. - from the link above
posted by bleep at 6:34 AM on September 29

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