49 year-old Nelson is known as one of the world’s most accomplished big mountain skiers, having descended Lhotse on skis in 2018, a feat that earned her National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year Award.
After she and partner Jim Morrison had successfully summited the 8,163m high mountain and were starting their descent on skis, it is believed Nelson disappeared just below the summit. Morrison safely continued his descent to base camp and is understood to be assisting with the search and rescue effort.
I haven’t felt as sure-footed on Manaslu as I have on past adventures into the thin atmosphere of the high Himalaya. These past weeks have tested my resilience in new ways.
Just days prior, Nelson had posted on her Instagram page commenting on the testing conditions on Manaslu after a failed initial summit attempt on Thursday last week.
‘I haven’t felt as sure-footed on Manaslu as I have on past adventures into the thin atmosphere of the high Himalaya. These past weeks have tested my resilience in new ways,’ she wrote.
Witnesses believe that the avalanche that occurred further down the mountain was triggered by a collapsed serac which caused snow and debris to cascade down from an upper ridge and onto slopes above Camp 3, where crews were transporting logistics to higher ground. According to a report in the Himalayan Times, four people have so far been rescued, and Sherpas from lower camps are attempting to assist those trapped higher up. Fears for those stuck at Camp 4 are significant, as they are likely to be dependent on bottled oxygen for survival.
Inclement weather conditions have so far hampered rescue attempts in both incidents, grounding helicopters owing to the poor visibility. It is reported that conditions are clearing today (Tuesday) and efforts may be able to continue. Heavy snowfall over the past week has created treacherous conditions on the mountain, coinciding with the busiest Autumn season yet on Manaslu, with 404 climbing permits issued by the Nepali government compared to 150 last year.