Irvine Barclay Theatre

Mountaineer Hilaree Nelson Shares the Gripping Story of Climbing Southeast Asia’s Highest Point.


Irvine Barclay Theatre launches 2019 National Geographic Live speaker series

Hilaree Nelson: Point of No Return

Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 4pm

Tickets: $32, $46, $90

Irvine Barclay Theatre - 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine CA | 949.854.4646

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. What they didn’t realize was that the greatest obstacle wouldn’t be their dwindling rations, or the grueling jungle hikes, or the life-threatening hypothermia. It was the force of conflicting personalities that threatened to unravel the entire endeavor. 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.

Part of the National Geographic Speaker Series


View Hilaree Nelson: Point of No Return Trailer

Hilaree Nelson Website | Facebook | Twitter




For Hilaree Nelson, skiing is the gateway to possibility. She started skiing at age three at Stevens 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 was 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, and mountains 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 2005, climbing the 8,000-meter peak, Cho Oyu, in Tibet, she made the 2nd 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 the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival in 2015.

And 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 six and eight. In addition, her writing has been published in National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic’s The Call of Everest, the Ski Journal, Outside online magazine, 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.




Brian Skerry: Ocean Soul

Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 4pm

Tickets: Tickets: $32, $46, $90


Voyage across the oceans with one of National Geographic’s most seasoned photographers and discover a vast, hidden world beneath the waves.


About Irvine Barclay Theatre

Since opening its doors in 1990, Irvine Barclay Theatre has emerged as one of California's most imaginative performing arts showcases. A unique collaborative venture among the City of Irvine, the University of California, Irvine, and the private sector, the theatre has a reputation for wide-ranging programming in the fields of contemporary dance, music, and theater arts. Performances take place in the 750-seat "jewel box" theatre which is renowned for its intimate atmosphere and superb acoustics. Visit to learn about our exciting new season!