After two days of helicopter searching on Manaslu, rescue teams have recovered ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson’s body, who was reported missing on Monday morning after an accident occurred near the 8,000-meter peak’s summit. Based on a primary report that was released Monday, we had initially written that she had fallen roughly 80 feet into a crevasse, but we know now that this account was inaccurate. On Wednesday morning, her partner James Morrison, who was skiing off the summit with her that day, released a statement detailing the events that went down on Monday while also sharing his condolences for the loss of Nelson, who he called ” [my] life partner, my lover, my best friend, and my mountain partner.”
Morrison shared in an Instagram post that on September 26 at 10:42 am, the duo had reached the true summit of Manaslu in tough conditions. They transitioned from climbing to skiing and began the descent when Nelson started a small avalanche that swept her off her feet. She was carried down a narrow snow slope on the south side of the mountain, falling over 5,000 feet. Morrison had searched for her but was unable to locate her, and has spent the last two days looking for her via helicopter. This morning, he and the rescue team located her body.
“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’. I 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.
🙏 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.”
– James Morrison via Instagram
49-year-old Nelson, one of the most distinguished female mountain athletes in history, leaves behind two children and her partner Morrison.