Hilaree Nelson - Pioneering Ski Mountaineer

Passing Date

Hilaree Nelson, an extreme skier and barrier-breaking ski mountaineer, died on September 26. She was 49.

Nelson, with her life and climbing partner Jim Morrison, was skiing from the summit of Manaslu, the world’s eighth-highest peak, when they triggered an avalanche that swept her over a cliff. Searchers were delayed by stormy weather, and on September 28 Nelson’s body was located about 5,000 feet below the avalanche site.

Born and raised in Seattle, Nelson learned to ski with her siblings at Stevens Pass, Washington. She was a long-time resident of Telluride, Colorado, where she lived with Morrison. Nelson made dozens of first descents. In 2012 she climbed to the summit of both Mount Everest and neighboring Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest peak, within 24 hours. She was the first woman to do so.

She was named a National Geographic “adventurer of the year” in 2018. The following year, Outside magazine called her “the most accomplished female ski pioneer of her generation.” She was the first female captain of the North Face Athlete Team, among other honors.

Nelson was given a traditional funeral at a Sherpa cremation ground in Kathmandu.