Top US ski mountaineer gets Buddhist cremation in Nepal
The body of renowned US ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson, who died on Nepal's Manaslu peak, was cremated in Kathmandu on Sunday PRAKASH MATHEMA AFP

The body of renowned US ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson, who died on Nepal's Manaslu peak, was cremated close to a Buddhist stupa in Kathmandu on Sunday.

Nelson's body was found on the slopes of the world's eighth highest mountain on Wednesday, two days after she disappeared as she was skiing down from its summit.

Monks chanted prayers and played traditional drums as her family and fellow climbers offered flowers and traditional Buddhist scarves on her body.

"The cremation was done today, attended by her brother, other climbers and officials," Jiban Ghimire of Shangri-La Nepal Trek, which organized the expedition, told AFP.

Orange marigolds decorated the cremation area at the foothills of Swayambhu Nath stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal.

Nelson, 49, was regarded as one of the world's most talented ski mountaineers and had been involved in dozens of expeditions around the world.

A decade ago, she became the first woman to summit both the highest mountain in the world, Everest, and the adjacent Lhotse peak within the span of 24 hours.

Then in 2018, she returned to Lhotse and made the first ski descent of the mountain, and her accomplishments earned her the prestigious National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award that year.

Jim Morrison, who had accompanied Nelson and was able to ski down safely, led the search operations that located her body after bad weather hampered earlier rescue efforts.

Morrison said after the ceremony he would take the ashes home to the United States where Nelson's two children live.

"It should be a beautiful tribute which Hilaree's family and I feel this is how she would want things performed," he said. "Her radiance will continue to affect us all."

Tributes have been pouring from top climbers around the world, thanking her and calling her a pioneering and inspiring adventurer.

On the day of Nelson's accident, an avalanche hit between Camps 3 and 4 on the 8,163-meter (26,781-foot) mountain, killing Nepali climber Anup Rai and injuring a dozen others who were later rescued.

The deaths of Nelson and Rai are the first confirmed casualties of the autumn climbing season in Nepal.

Constant rain and snow have been a challenge for the 404 paying climbers attempting to reach the summit of Manaslu this year.

Several tents were damaged when another avalanche came hurling down to the Manaslu basecamp on Sunday morning, according to the tourism department, but no deaths have been reported.

© 2022 AFP