This week’s conversation is with Hilaree Nelson.

With a career spanning two decades that includes dozens of first descents through more than 40 expeditions to 16 different countries, Hilaree is the most prolific ski mountaineer of her generation.

Some of these ‘firsts” in the world of ski mountaineering include linking two 8000m peaks (Everest and Lhotse) in one push, first ski descents on Baffin Island, a first American ascent and ski descent of Papsura peak in India , and a first ski descent of the 4th highest peak in the world, Lhotse.

Hilaree is the Captain of the North Face Athlete Team, an active leader on climate with Protect Our Winters, and an avid proponent of wild places such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

She was also named by Men’s Journal as one of the most adventurous women of the last 25 years, as well as National Geographic’s 2018 Adventurer of the Year.

In this conversation, Hilaree shares some key takeaways from her expeditions, where the wrong decision could mean the difference between life and death.

We touch on everything from confidence to managing anxiety — and that’s applicable for the difficult times we find ourselves in now.

“You wouldn’t believe how fast you get to know yourself when you’re in situations of consequence. That’s what it’s all about and why I’ve been able to keep doing this for so long. There’s still so much I can learn about myself.”

In This Episode:

  • Adjusting to the new normal of life during Coronavirus… it creates anxiety
  • How does she handle that anxiety? Is she able to recognize it before it hits?
  • What it means to be a professional ski mountaineer
  • As someone who’s been immersed in life threatening situations, how does she manage the uncertainty?
  • Her process for overcoming fear… being present and breaking down challenging obstacles into small chunks
  • A time when she let fear conquer her and what she learned from it
  • Coming to the realization that she had the skill set to handle challenging descents but needed to more concretely believe in those skills
  • Why has she chosen a life where she’s in environments of consequence?
  • What she’s learned about confidence from her endeavors
  • How does she manage being a mother when she’s away on an expedition for months at a time?
  • Her mindfulness practice
  • What she hopes her kids can learn from her… to identify and live with passion
  • How she defines mastery


Listen via: Apple Podcasts | Android | SpotifyStitcher | Pocket Casts |  RSS




“Managing anxiety starts with being present and dealing with what you have right in front of you. I break it up into things I can manage instead of overwhelming myself by trying to figure out the whole picture all at once.” 

“A lot of why I travel to remote places is because I love the culture of what I’m experiencing so much as well as the mountains.”

“It all comes down to how you look at time. How you make space within time. How you value your time and other people’s time.”

“With mastery, time slows down. In many ways, it makes up for my physical aging because I have this mental mastery where I can see between the lines, foresee what’s coming. It’s a really incredible feeling when you’re in it.”

“Sometimes a passion is really hard to have. It requires a lot of sacrifice, but it’s a compass, gives you a purpose and it gets you out of bed. Life is beautiful, but it can be really hard and I think passion is something that gives you direction.”


Related Episodes:

  • Finding Mastery 213: Jeremy Jones, big mountain rider and explorer, on Passion, Risk and Managing Stress
  • Finding Mastery 206: Katie Arnold, journalist, and elite ultra runner, on The Power of Observation and Expression
  • Finding Mastery 198: Angela Naeth, triathlete, on Discovery and Acceptance


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Professional Adventurer and Ski Mountaineer

With a career spanning two decades that includes dozens of first descents through more than 40 expeditions to 16 different countries, Hilaree Nelson is the most prolific ski mountaineer of her generation.