“I think what worked in my favor the most was total ignorance, I moved there not thinking I was going to make my whole life skiing and climbing mountains.” -Hilaree O’Neil
On this episode of the “Nausicaa Cast” podcast, presented by Powder Radio, host Hadley Hammer interviews ski mountaineer Hilaree O’Neill. One of the most adventurous women in the outdoor sphere, she has made first descents all over the world.
In 1996, O’Neill headed to Chamonix with plans to stay a few months. Ultimately, she stayed for six years, competing in (and winning) some of the early freeskiing competitions and opening her eyes to an emerging world of skiing.
“I think what worked in my favor the most was total ignorance,” says O’Neill. “I moved there not thinking I was going to make my whole life skiing and climbing mountains.”
She’s skied from the Himalayan summit of Cho Oyu in Tibet and climbed and skied several high peaks in Bolivia and Argentina. Elsewhere, she’s cut turns on remote volcanoes in the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia, in Mongolia, Pakistan, Lebanon, as well as many first descents in the tight couloirs of Baffin Island.
Born and raised in the Northwest, Hilaree began skiing at age 3 at Steven’s Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Eventually she moved to the Chamonix Valley of France where she learned most of what she needed to know in order to take her skiing skills to the next level- ski mountaineering.
In addition to her travels as an athlete for The North Face, Hilaree is a mother to two young boys, and although they have changed her life dramatically, her passion for the mountains has not abated. Hilaree lives with her family in Telluride, Colorado and finds her sanity in the beautiful San Juan Mountains.