Body of ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson found after avalanche in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Hilaree Nelson, a pioneering ski mountain climber, died in an avalanche Monday while skiing from the summit of the world’s eighth largest mountain, officials said. She was 49.

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Nelson was descending from the summit of Mount Manaslu, which is 26,781 feet above sea level, when she fell, The Washington Post reported.

Jim Morrison, Nelson’s climbing partner who accompanied her to Nepal, confirmed that her body was found on Wednesday, far below where she had fallen, according to The New York Times.

A helicopter search, which was hindered by poor weather, found Nelson’s body about 6,200 feet from the summit, Capt. Surendra Paudel of Simrik Air said, according to the Post.

“The body has been badly damaged,” Air told reporters. “It took an hour and a half to retrieve the body that was buried half in the snow.”

Nelson and Morrison became the first people to ski down Mount Lhotse in Nepal, the world’s fourth-largest peak, the BBC reported.

Nelson is also the first woman to climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, and Mount Lhose, which is adjacent, in a 24-hour period, according to the news organization. She accomplished that feat in 2012, the Times reported.

Nelson had a reputation for both artistry and patience, Cody Townsend, another top ski mountaineer, told the Times in a telephone interview.

“She was a mountaineer that didn’t push it just to push it -- she was there to get it when it was perfect and get it done,” Townsend told the newspaper. “She had a 20-year track record of accomplishments because of that.”

Nelson and Morrison began descending from Mount Manasli on Monday on skis, but Nelson was soon swept off her feet by a small avalanche, according to the Times. Morrison was not caught by avalanche but watched helplessly as Nelson fall below.

“My loss is indescribable and I am focused on her children and their steps forward,” Morrison wrote on Instagram. “Hilaree Nelson is the most inspiring person in life and now her energy will guide our collective souls.”