Hilaree Nelson
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Hilaree Nelson

  • NICKNAME: Hiltop
  • BIRTHDAY: 13 December 1972
  • HOME: Telluride CO
  • DISCIPLINES: Ski Mountaineer
    • 1st Ski descent of Lhotse Coulior, Dream Line 2018
    • Denali Cassin Climb/Messner Couloir Ski Descent June 2017
    • 1st American Ascent, 1st Ski descent Papsura Peak India 2017
    • st Female descent of Makalu La Couloir 2015
    • 1st Female Link of two 8000m peaks, Everest and Lhotse 2012


On September 26, 2022, at 10:42 a.m., Hilaree, with her partner Jim Morrison, reached the summit of Manaslu, the 8th highest peak in the world. They proceeded to gear up and ski down when, after the first few turns, Hilaree was swept off her feet by a small avalanche and carried 5’000 feet down a steep slope. Her body was recovered 2 days later.
Hilaree was a pioneer. An inspiration and a leader for women in the outdoor world. But Hilary was not just about her epic feats. She did not want to be put on a pedestal, revered and out of touch. She was down on the ground, leading us each step of the way. She was a force that showed us what we, as women, can do. Rest in peace Hilaree.


Recently named the captain of The North Face Athlete Team, Hilaree is aseasoned adventurer with more than 40 expeditions to some of the most remote corners of the globe. Her passion and dedication to climbing and skiing has won her recognition as a 2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. She has become a mentor for an upcoming generation of mountain athletes. As a member of Protect Our Winters Riders' Alliance, she shares her stories and life experiences as a voice for advocacy of our wild places.
She is the first woman to climb two 8000 meter peaks, Everest and its neighboring peak Lhotse(Loht-say) – in a single 24-hour period. Just this past September, Hilaree returned to Lhotse to complete the first-ever ski descent of the 4th highest peak in the world, aka the Dream Line.
Born and raised in the Northwest, Hilaree began skiing at age 3 in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Today, her favorite mountain town is Telluride, CO - a place where she raises her two boys and is fortunate to call home.

What MOMENT do you ski for?

I ski for the moment of awe.

How do you recharge your batteries for the next challenge? 

The best way for me to recharge my batteries for the next expedition or ski challenge is to create another goal out in front of me and then slowly build up towards the challenge. Within that equation is a lot of rest, eating, hanging out with friends and family and yoga.

What’s your favorite quote? Why does this quote resonate with you?

You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose. -Dr. Suess. I’ve carried this quote around with me for my entire ski expedition career. It reminds me to appreciate simplicity. It reminds me that my path is my choice and to love that freedom and to be appreciative.

How do you conquer difficult situations? 

I try not to think or look too far ahead. I can get through difficult situations by being present and taking each step as it comes.

 What sacrifices have you had to make to get to where you are today and were they worth it?

There have been many sacrafices on my path to climbing and skiing the biggest and most remote mountains in the world. I’ve spent big chunks of time away from my children, I’ve missed many a wedding or family gathering. The experiences I’ve had on some of my expeditions often leave me feeling isolated from my home life. It’s hard for me to say if these sacrifices were worth it but I definitely can’t envision myself anywhere else in life.

How does your mindset (or attitude) influence your performance?

My performance is heavily influenced by my attitude.

What do you do when you aren’t skiing? 

I just really love being outside. I drag my kids on hikes and bike rides. I go rock climbing and swimming. I spend a lot of time on the road giving talks about my adventures with the hope of inspiring others to take a few more risks in life and to connect with the outdoors.

What strategy do you use to overcome pressure and stress for optimum performance? 

My strategies for overcoming pressure and stress include focused and rhythmic breathing, staying present, preparedness and visualization.