The Hillary Step, the famous rock barrier located shortly below the summit of Everest, seems to have collapsed, probably due to the terrible earthquake that shook Nepal in 2015. British mountaineer Tim Mosedale broke the news after having reached the summit of the highest mountain in the world on 16 May 2017.
“The Hillary Step is no more.” With these words Tim Mosedale confirmed the hypothesis – put forward last year by some alpinists and rapidly confuted by others – that the famous Hillary Step on the SE Ridge of Everest has actually collapsed, probably as a result of the terrible earthquake that devastated Nepal in 2015.
Located at 8790m on the Nepalese side of the mountain, this circa 12m high rock barrier was first breached on 29 May 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay during the historic first ascent of the highest mountain in the world, while the two climbed the crest that leads from the South Summit (8750m) to the mountain’s main summit (8848m). This steep and narrow section constitutes one of the crux sections of the entire climb and is regarded as the final obstacle prior to reaching the summit. In the past long and dangerous queues have formed at this point and not just one, but two fixed ropes have at times been installed here to “ease the traffic”, albeit without much success.
Further confirmation of the change came from Pemchhiri Sherpa, “Yes, it has changed… before we had to climb the rock but now, after the earthquake, the route has changed and now we need to climb from the right.” It’s worth noting that in this pre-monsoon season Pemchhiri helped install the fixed ropes up the SE Ridge route and the other day he scored his eleventh Everest summit.
John Burke started that push on 13 May and reached the summit on Tuesday at 9.35am local time.
Welcome to the club John.