VAIL, Colo. — The Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail will honor multiple athletes, including Hilaree Nelson, a renowned Colorado skier who died in September on Nepal's Mount Manaslu, at the end of the month.
The museum, a nonprofit and the state's official snow sports museum, announced its 2023 awards on Monday.
The Class of 2023 Hall of Fame inductees, as announced in April, will be honored in late August. They include Nelson, Cheryl Jenson, John Norton, Sandy Hildner and Seth Masia. The museum called them "an inspiring group of snow sports enthusiasts representing a wide range of people from across Colorado and from the industry."
In 2022, Nelson, 49, of Telluride, was one of the most accomplished ski mountaineers and alpinists on the planet, according to the museum.
She also worked to bring attention to issues surrounding climate change and worked to empower young girls and women.
"She subconsciously and consciously opened doors and changed the rules of equity and access for the next generation," the museum said.
Nelson was nominated for the Class of 2023 in the "Inspirational" category.
She is well-known for her “firsts,” such as summiting and skiing 8,000-meter peaks around the world, notably becoming the first woman to summit two 8,000-meter peaks — Everest and Lhotse — in a 24-hour period, according to the Associated Press. She also has the first ski descent of Baffin Island, the first American ascent and ski descent of Papsura peak in India, among others, her website reads.
She was named National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year in 2018.
In late September 2022, she was skiing in Nepal with her partner Jim Morrison, of Tahoe, California. Both were extreme skiers who had summited Mount Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest, in 2018, according to the AP.
As she skied down from the 26,775-foot summit of Mount Manaslu with Morrison on Sept. 26, she fell and disappeared from view.
"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," Morrison wrote in an Instagram post.
That same day, an avalanche at a lower elevation killed a Nepali guide and injured multiple others, according to the AP.
Famed Colorado ski mountaineer missing in Nepal mountain
Nepalese rescuers in a helicopter were able to locate her body two days later. She was recovered at 22,000 feet, according to the AP.
After her body was found, Morrison said the loss was indescribable.
"@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," he wrote on Instagram.
North Face, which sponsored Nelson, released the following statement to Denver7:
Today we lost our hero, mentor, and our friend. Hilaree Nelson held a spirit as big as the places she led us to. She embodied possibility. Her adventures made us feel at home in the vastness of the world.
On September 26, 2022, Hilaree reached the true summit of Manaslu with her climbing and life partner Jim Morrison. During her ski descent, Hilaree was swept off her feet by moving snow, resulting in a fall down the south face of Manaslu.
For us, Hilaree transcended the idea of an athlete, a sport or a community. She helped lead our family at The North Face, by being a teammate and team captain who changed our perspective of the outdoors by showing us exactly what it can mean. Her light will forever be an offering, and her optimism in the face of adversity, will forever be our guide.
Our hearts are with Hilaree’s children, her family and her steadfast partner, Jim Morrison.
Hilaree Nelson was a trailblazer in her sport, a loving mother, partner, friend, and a staple in the Telluride community. Our condolences go out to her family and everyone she touched. https://t.co/UY0xGG2SqU— Colorado Snowsports Museum (@COSnowsportsMus) September 29, 2022
In October, Nelson was given a traditional funeral at a Sherpa cremation ground as Buddhist monks officiated over a ceremony attended by family, friends, and government officials, the AP reported.
She was the mother of two boys and enjoyed exploring the San Juan Mountains around Telluride.
The 2023 Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame Celebration is scheduled for Aug. 27 and tickets are now available, starting at $50. It will take place at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. All proceeds support the Colorado Snowsports Museum.