In the fall of 2014, a National Geographic team set out on what they knew would be a harrowing journey to the summit of Burma’s Hkakabo Razi, to determine if it is indeed Southeast Asia’s highest point. Leader Hilaree Nelson recounts the tough decisions she had to make to keep the team together, accompanied by photographer Cory Richard’s dramatic stills and clips from Renan Ozturk’s searing documentary Down to Nothing.
ABOUT NAT GEO LIVE
National Geographic Live is the live events division of National Geographic. With a broad roster of talent including renowned photographers, scientists, authors, filmmakers and adventurers, National Geographic Live’s critically acclaimed programs have connected with audiences worldwide for over a century. Currently National Geographic Live events are held in a variety of cities around the world, including Seattle, Tampa, Los Angeles and Calgary. In each of these cities, speakers share behind-the-scenes stories from the front lines of exploration onstage alongside stunning imagery and gripping footage. For more information, visit natgeolive.com
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
For Hilaree Nelson, skiing is the gateway to possibility. She started skiing at age 3 at Steven’s Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. She took a leap of faith shortly after graduating from Colorado College and moved to Chamonix, France. In many ways, her five years in Chamonix served as a second round of college in that this where she was introduced to the world of big mountain skiing and climbing. From there, the place for Hilaree was anywhere she could cut turns on mountain slopes: volcanoes in the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia, in Mongolia, India, Lebanon and first descents of the tight couloirs of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. Her mountain adventures led Outside Magazine to name Hilaree one of the most adventurous women in the world of sports.
She has repeatedly made a mark in the Himalayas. In 2005she climbed the 8,000-meter peak Cho Oyu in Tibet, from which she made the second female oxygenless ski descent. In 2008, she attempted to climb and ski Gasherbrum II in Pakistan. In 2012, surrounded by team members she would mentor, and alpinists who would mentor her, she climbed both Everest and its neighbor Lhotse making her the first woman to climb consecutive 8000m peaks in a single day. As the recipient of a National Geographic Explorer’s Grant, Hilaree led a team of alpinists to attempt a first ascent on a remote peak in northern Myanmar in 2014. The film about the adventure, Down to Nothing, won the Best Cinematography Award at Telluride’s MountainFilm in 2015. Most recently, Hilaree attempted another Himalayan giant, Makalu which was named by Outside Magazine as one of the “Most Badass Adventures of 2015”. Hilaree has entered the record books for high-altitude innovation and prowess. Between expeditions, Hilaree spends her time as a mother, adventuring with her two sons, ages 6 and 8. In addition, her writing has been published in National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic’s The Call of Everest, The Ski Journal, Outside Online, The Outdoor Journal and several other publications. Hilaree also shares her stories through motivational speaking engagements across the country. Hilaree continues to travel the globe, always looking for new ski objectives and honest suffer-fests.