Who is Hilaree Nelson? Prolific US Ski Mountaineer Missing after Falling Off Manaslu Mountain in Nepal

Hilaree Nelson, a famed US ski mountaineer, is missing in Nepal after a successfully climbing the world's eighth-highest mountain at 8,163 metres with fellow partner Jim Morrison on Monday. She disappeared on Nepal's Manaslu mountain on the same day that an avalanche killed a Nepali climber on the same peak.

In an Instagram post on Thursday, she shared... "I haven't felt as sure-footed on Manaslu as I have on past adventure into the thin atmosphere of the high Himalaya."

Hilaree Nelson
Hilaree Nelson is missing ever since she ventured down Nepal's Manaslu mountain - the world’s eighth-highest mountain. North Face

Who is Hilaree Nelson?

Hilaree Nelson is a North Face athlete with a career spanning two decades. She made dozens of first descents through more than 40 expeditions to 16 different countries. Hilaree is described as the "most prolific ski mountaineer of her generation". The mother of two was the first female to link two 8,000 m peaks – Everest and Lhotse – in one 24 hour push. Hilaree returned to 27,940-foot Lhotse for a second time in 2018 to ski down the summit.

She was awarded the National Geographic Explorers grant in 2014 to lead an expedition to a little known peak in the far northern reaches of Myanmar, Hkakabo Razi. The ensuing story of human and physical drama was documented in the award-winning 2015 film Down to Nothing. This earned her a spot on the National Geographic Live Speaker Series wherein she shared her stories to audiences across the country.

In 2017, Men's Journal named her as one of the most adventurous women of the last 25 years.

Tragedy Hits after Successful Summit

Jeevan Ghimire, managing director of Shangrila-Nepal Treks, said something unusual happened above 8,000 metres, the death zone, where the pressure of oxygen is insufficient to sustain human life.

Hilaree Nelson

He revealed that the mountaineering duo had planned to ski down the sharp knife ridge in a quest for one of the most dangerous vertical drops in the world. But unfortunately, Hilaree got separated and fell into a crevasse. Ghimire said they know the exact reason behind it. "It was unimaginable. It is difficult to believe. Let's hope she is fine."

Search and Rescue Operations

Bigyan Koirala, an official at Nepal's Department of Tourism that issues the climbing permits, said a helicopter is on standby by for a search and rescue early Tuesday morning. He revealed that a powerful avalanche, in a separate incident on Monday, occurred between Camps III and IV of Manaslu killing a local climber and injuring several others. Koirala said four climbing guides sustained critical injuries, and nine others suffered minor injuries.


Authorities mobilized the search and rescue team immediately after the incident. Hari Kuikel, of Kailash Helicopter Services, said they airlifted three people and admitted them to Karuna Hospital in Bansbari. Yukta Gurung, Icefall doctor, said the avalanche was triggered by continuous snowfall. He highlighted that it had snowed relentlessly for 15 days – the area was covered in at least five to six feet of snow, wherein the accumulated snow ultimately gave way triggering the avalanche.