ONE famous extreme skier from the United States, who was killed after falling from one of the world’s highest mountains, was given a traditional funeral at a Sherpa crematorium on Sunday as Buddhist monks attended a ceremony attended by family, friends and government officials.
Hilaree Nelson, 49, fell from the 6,775-foot summit of the world’s eighth-highest mountain, Mount Manaslu, last week while skiing with her partner, Jim Morrison.
Nelson’s body was taken to the Sherpa crematorium in Kathmandu from a hospital mortuary in the back of an open truck, which was decorated with a poster of her and garlands of flowers.
Family, friends, climbers and government officials gathered at the funeral site, offering flowers and scarves placed on her remains, which were then laid to rest on a pile of wood. Buddhist monks lit the pyre as they played musical instruments and chanted prayers while mourners lit incense.
Nelson’s family members had flown to Kathmandu for the funeral.
The the skier disappeared on September 26. In a helicopter search, rescuers located Nelson’s body two days later and airlifted it to Kathmandu. Bad weather hampered the initial investigation.
A professional athlete with a career spanning two decades, Nelson in 2012 became the first woman to climb Everest, the world’s highest mountain, and the adjacent Loche within 24 hours. Six years later, she completed the first descent of Lhotse on skis, a feat that earned her the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award. Nelson was sponsored by North Face at the time of her death and was described on the company’s website as “the most prolific ski mountaineer of her generation”.
In an Instagram post shared about a week before her death, Nelson said Mount Manaslu had “tried [her] relief” because an ongoing monsoon with “incessant rain and humidity” has created “constant fog” and generally dangerous conditions. Climbers on Mount Manaslu are battling bad weather and repeated avalanches.
On the same day Nelson fell, an avalanche at a lower elevation on the same mountain killed a Nepalese man and injured several other climbers.
Hundreds of climbers and their local guides attempted to reach the top of the mountain during Nepal’s autumn climbing season.
Nelson, from Telluride, Colorado, and Morrison, from Tahoe, California, are extreme skiers who summited Mount Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest mountain, in 2018.
The government of Nepal has issued permits to 504 climbers during this year’s autumn climbing season. Most climb Mount Manaslu.
In 2019, CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford caught up with Nelson and Morrison on the peaks of the San Juan Mountains, some of the highest in America at 12,000 feet, where Nelson and Morrison showed their practice pitches. Watch this story in the video player above.