Mount Everest's famed Hillary Step destroyed, says mountaineer

The Everest peak in 2009, with the Hillary Step still intact, and the peak in 2017.
The Everest peak in 2009, with the Hillary Step still intact, and the peak in 2017.PHOTOS: NATAS-SWET, FACEBOOK/EVEREST EXPEDITION
 Mount Everest (Background) and the Nupse-Lohtse massif (foreground) in a photo from April 2015.
Mount Everest (Background) and the Nupse-Lohtse massif (foreground) in a photo from April 2015.PHOTO: AFP
Members of the Natas Singapore Women’s Everest Team making their way down the infamous Hillary Step in 2009.
Members of the Natas Singapore Women’s Everest Team making their way down the infamous Hillary Step in 2009.PHOTO: NATAS-SWET

The "Hillary Step", a famed rock wall near the peak of Mount Everest, was destroyed, a mountaineer has confirmed.

The wall of rock was once the final test of endurance before the summit and named after mountaineer Edmund Hillary who was the first to reach the Everest summit in 1953 with fellow climber Tenzing Norgay.

The Hillary Step may have collapsed after Nepal's devastating 2015 earthquake, mountaineers said.

It appeared to have changed shape in photos taken in May last year, but it was hard to tell with the heavy snowfall.

British mountaineer Tim Mosedale confirmed the news on Facebook after reaching the summit on May 16, BBC said.

"It's official - The Hillary Step is no more," he wrote, adding that the rubble could be "tricky to negotiate".

"It was reported last year, and indeed I climbed it last year, but we weren't sure for certain that The Step had gone because the area was blasted with snow," Mr Mosedale added.

"This year, however, I can report that the chunk of rock named 'The Hillary Step' is definitely not there any more."

Some mountaineers claim the snow-covered slope will be much easier to climb than the notorious rock-face.

The Hillary Step was a bottleneck where climbers had to ascend and descend with the help of ropes.

Climbers sometimes had to wait for hours in harsh and freezing conditions.

 

Mr Mosedale told planetmountain.com that it would be easier to go up the snow slope but the area could still be a choke point.

"In the current state it would be difficult to safely negotiate down where the step used to be on account of the huge unstable rocks that are perched on the route," Mr Mosedale said.

Four mountaineers died on Everest slopes on Sunday, BBC reported.

A total of 375 climbers received permits to climb Everest this season from Nepal's side. But the season has started slowly because of extreme wind and snow, the New York Times said.