It may be tempting to think of the world of ski mountaineering as one dominated by brawn. With, admittedly, some brain requirements to help mitigate serious risk factors. But, beauty? Is there room in this burly, testosterone-fueled world for the feminine? And not just for the token female, but for many of the fairer sex? As a pioneer in this often rough-and-tough milieu, Telluride’s own Hilaree Nelson has an unequivocal answer and shows us, by her personal example, how women can do anything men can do (...and better).
To say Telluride-based ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson has enjoyed a breakout couple of years is an understatement. That’s because Nelson, a veteran of the mountains who has 40 expeditions under her belt, charged at some long-held objectives with partner Jim Morrison in a renewed — and highly successful — bid of technical ski mountaineering. What they accomplished was astonishing.
First, the couple tackled the first ski descent of Papsura, the Peak of Evil, a pyramid of sharp aretes and dizzyingly steep slopes in Northern India that sits at 21,252 feet. Nelson had attempted it in 2013, and was turned around by trying conditions. But when she returned with Morrison and Chris Figenshau in 2017, they made history.
Next up, the pair returned to the U.S., where they headed to Denali in Alaska. There, they climbed the Cassin Ridge and skied the impressive Messner face. And they didn’t stop there.
In 2018, Nelson and Morrison made international headlines when they made the first ski descent of Lhotse — the fourth highest peak in the world at 27,940 feet. By skiing what has come to be known as the “Dream Line” on the mountain, they accomplished a feat that many had attempted before them. It was made extra remarkable by the fact that it was the first time a woman has been the first person to ski a line on any 8,000-meter peak.
Nelson, who was named a 2018 National Geographic Adventure of the Year, is also the new captain of The North Face’s Global Athlete Team. In this presentation, she and Morrison will talk about what drew them to such lofty ambitions and recount their high and low moments amid the world’s tallest mountains.In Person:
Antarctica is cold, unfriendly, remote, breathtakingly beautiful and, by virtue of those characteristics, rife for expeditions. That’s exactly what draws a dream team of climbers to decamp for three weeks to Queen Maud Land, a chain of outrageous rock spires that leap out of the frozen continent’s snowy expanse. Alex Honnold, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and the others venture out onto these spires, where they encounter massive off-width cracks, crumbly rock, big-wall style objectives, bone-chilling cold and a reminder that even suffer fests at the bottom of the world can offer an unforgettable good time.