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Body of missing Colorado skier recovered in the Himalayas

Professional skier Hilaree Nelson went missing this week near the summit of Mt. Manaslu in Nepal. Her body was recovered by search crews on Wednesday.

DENVER — The body of a professional skier from Telluride who went missing in the Himalayas this week has been recovered. 

Hilaree Nelson went missing Monday just below the summit of Mt. Manaslu in Nepal. She was skiing down from the summit with her partner when she fell off the mountain, the Associated Press reported. Her partner, Jim Morrison, said on Instagram that she triggered a small avalanche, which swept her off her feet and carried her down the side of the mountain. 

Her body was recovered Wednesday and flown by helicopter to a hospital in Kathmandu where doctors planned to perform an autopsy.

Nelson was a professional ski mountaineer and team captain for The North Face Athlete Team, as well as the mother of two children.

Her career began more than two decades ago and includes dozens of first descents over 40 expeditions in 16 countries.

"There are no words to describe the love for this woman, my life partner, my lover, my best friend, and my mountain partner," Morrison said. "She has been the beacon of light in my life day in and day out."

Morrison detailed the events leading up to Nelson's death on Instagram.

"On September 26th at 10:42 am we reached the true summit of Manaslu in tough conditions," he said. "We quickly transitioned from climbing to skiing in cold and wind with a plan to ski around the corner and regroup with our Sherpa team."

Morrison said he skied first, and when Nelson followed after he made a few turns she started an 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’," he said. "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."

After two days of searching from the air in a helicopter, Morrison said they were able to land at 22,000 feet and search for her on the ground, and her body was discovered a short time later.

"I’m in Kathmandu with her and her spirit," he said. "My loss is indescribable and I am focused on her children and their steps forward. @hilareenelson is the most inspiring person in life and now her energy will guide our collective souls." 

The North Face released the following statement on Nelson's death:

"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."

More information about Nelson's career and accomplishments can be found on The North Face's website.

> 9NEWS interviewed Hilaree Nelson in 2018 after she skied down another peak in the Himalayas: 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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