Famed American Ski Mountaineer Missing After Fall Near Nepal


Tuesday, September 27th 2022, 8:11 am

By: CBS News


Nepalese rescuers in a helicopter were searching Tuesday for a famed U.S. ski climber a day after she fell near the peak of the world's eighth-highest mountain. Also Monday, an avalanche at a lower elevation on Mount Manaslu swept several climbers, killing a Nepali guide and injuring others.

Hilaree Nelson, 49, was skiing down from the 26,775-foot summit with her partner Jim Morrison when she fell off the mountain, according to Jiban Ghimire of the Kathmandu-based Shangri-La Nepal Trek that organized and outfitted the expedition.

"She had an accident yesterday as she was descending shortly after her summit. We are trying to get clarity on what happened," Ghimire told AFP.

Bad weather hampered rescue efforts Monday. But visibility was good in improved weather conditions Tuesday, Ghimire said.

Two search and rescue helicopters were sent to the area, tourism department official Bigyan Koirala said.

"She is believed to have slipped close to the summit. Search teams on foot may also be deployed in the accident area," he told AFP.

Hundreds of climbers and their local guides were attempting to reach the summit during Nepal's autumn climbing season.

All of the climbers caught in the avalanche Monday were accounted for. Some of the injured were flown to Kathmandu and were being treated in hospitals.

One of those injured, Phurte Sherpa, said there were about 13-14 people who were swept by the avalanche.

"One of our friends died in the avalanche and there has been efforts to retrieve the body but the rescue helicopter has not been able to do so yet," Sherpa said. "Others injured ones have broken hands and feet."

Sherpa and his brother were flown by a rescue helicopter to HAMS Hospital in Kathmandu on Tuesday.

He said they were on their way to Camp Four to drop oxygen cylinders when the avalanche pushed them down to Camp Three.

Nelson, from Telluride, Colorado, and Morrison, from Tahoe, California, are extreme skiers who summited Mount Lhotse, the world's fourth-highest, in 2018.

"I am not sure about the whereabouts of the missing climber but her husband (partner) was with us during the search (today). We made two helicopter rescue attempts to find her but were unable," Sherpa said.

Nepal's government has issued permits to 504 climbers to attempt to scale high mountain peaks during the autumn season. Most of them are on Mount Manaslu.

The North Face, which sponsors Nelson, confirmed the climber was missing.

"We are in touch with Hilaree's family and supporting search and rescue efforts in every way we can," the company said in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

"Most prolific ski mountaineer of her generation"

Nelson, 49, has had a career spanning two decades and is described on the company's website as "the most prolific ski mountaineer of her generation."

In 2012, she became the first woman to summit the highest mountain in the world, Everest, and its adjacent Lhotse within 24 hours.

Six years later, she returned to Lhotse and made the first ski descent of the mountain, which earned her the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award.

In an Instagram post last week, Nelson said her latest climb had been deeply challenging because of "incessant rain" and dangerous conditions.

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

"These past weeks have tested my resilience in new ways."

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