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Hilaree Nelson, 49, a Top Ski Mountaineer, Is Dead in Avalanche

  • September 29, 2022

“It was a picture of the most aesthetic, appealing, beautiful, rugged, strong mountain that I’d ever seen,” she told National Geographic, which awarded the team “adventurer of the year” honors in 2018. Ms. Nelson and Mr. Morrison returned from India and, on Denali in Alaska, climbed Cassin Ridge and skied down the Messner Couloir.

That same year, the North Face named her the captain of its athletes team, an honor previously bestowed on just one other mountaineer: Mr. Anker.

The timeless lure of the Himalaya, the world’s highest mountains, brought Ms. Nelson and Mr. Morrison to Manaslu. For years most climbers, led by guides, stopped at a fore summit. But with recent emphasis on exactitude, explorers are re-evaluating their summits and, in some cases, returning to mountains to end any uncertainty.

It was from that precarious true summit, covered in fresh snow, that Ms. Nelson and Mr. Morrison headed downhill. Within moments, Ms. Nelson stumbled and was lost in a slough that became an avalanche.

“I’ve always had this crazy fear, my whole life, of having every day be the same,” Ms. Nelson told Outside in 2019. “And if I dig really deep, that’s my motivation, to get outside, to train, to be in my sport, and to forever continue learning.”

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