US mountaineer Hilaree Nelson’s body found after avalanche on peak in Nepal

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The body of an American mountaineer whose daring achievements brought her acclaim among some of the world’s most elite climbers was found on Wednesday on a peak in Nepal, two days after she went missing, a government official said.

Hilaree Nelson, 49, and her romantic and climbing partner, Jim Morrison, were attempting to ski down Manaslu, the world’s eighth-highest peak, on Monday. An avalanche apparently blew her off a cliff onto the south face of the mountain, opposite of their intended route of descent, said Sachindra Yadav, an expedition liaison officer from the Gorkha district, which includes Manaslu.

“Her body has been brought to Kathmandu for autopsy. It’s intact but covered with snow,” Yadav said.

Nelson and Morrison traveled to Nepal earlier this month for their trek up Manaslu. In 2018, they successfully descended by ski from Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest mountain, which straddles Nepal and Tibet.

When she disappeared on Monday, shortly after the couple began their descent from Manaslu’s 8,163m peak, guides on her expedition said they believed she had fallen into a crevasse. Morrison skied to base camp for help, but poor weather conditions delayed a helicopter survey and rescue mission until Tuesday morning.

During an initial survey, Morrison and others on the mission noticed bright objects that looked like a ski glove or another article of clothing.

A team of rescuers returned early Wednesday with binoculars and other detection equipment. Morrison and two others searched the ground area and found Nelson’s body, Yadav said.

The death underscores the extreme risks taken by adventurers and the local Nepali guides who support them in climbing some of the world’s highest, and deadliest, peaks.

Nelson grew up climbing mountains near Seattle and lived with her two children near Telluride, Colorado. She distinguished herself with dozens of first ski descents through more than 40 expeditions to 16 different countries, according to her sponsor, which called her “the most prolific ski mountaineer of her generation”.

This week, Nelson and Morrison were pushing the limits again on Manaslu, regarded among mountain researchers and climbers as among the more dangerous of the world’s 14 8,000m peaks because of its propensity for avalanches.

On Monday, an avalanche lower down on Manaslu killed a Sherpa guide and injured 13 others on a separate climbing expedition.

Dozens of people have died over the hundreds of recorded attempts to reach Manaslu’s summit. In 2012, an avalanche on the mountain killed nine climbers.




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