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23 May 2017

Mountaineer Confirms Collapse of Mount Everest’s Hillary Step

Img: Tim Mosedale/Everest Expedition 
Few mountains upon this Earth are as iconic as Everest. Conquering all obstacles to eventually reach the peak is considered to be one of the most arduous expeditions upon which one can embark, and achieving the feat may just have become even more difficult for those hoping to make the trip. This is due to the collapse of a famous rocky outcrop known as Hillary Step, located just 58 metres below the peak. The outcrop was of course named after famed explored Sir Edmond Hillary, who along with the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first person to ever climb the mountain way back in 1953.

Reports of the 12-metre step’s collapse have been circulating since last year, following the publishing of photographs by the American Himalayan Foundation. However, snow cover made it difficult to say for certain whether the outcrop remained, or had in fact collapsed. We now know the truth to be the latter.

This was recently confirmed by British mountaineer Tim Mosedale, who told the Guardian earlier this month, “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. This year, however, I can report that the chunk of rock named the Hillary Step is definitely not there anymore.”

Img: The Guardian
Mosedale, upon reaching the summit for the 6th time on May 16th, posted the photo featured atop this article which clearly shows how the collapse of the Hillary Step has altered the terrain on the approach to the peak. The step has long been considered to be the final challenge the mountain throws at those braving the climb, and its disappearance will likely effect expeditions for years to come.

“It’s a piece of mountaineering history that has disappeared. Even non-mountaineers know the name and the association of the infamous Hillary Step,” said Mosedale.

Chief among concerns to arise from the collapse is safety, as the limited number of paths available is expected to cause a bottleneck, forcing climbers to wait it out in the cold.

“It’s easier going up the snow slope and indeed for inexperienced climbers and mountaineers there’s less ‘climbing’ to be done, making it much easier for them,” Mosedale told Planet Mountain.

“However, it’s going to form a bottleneck. The Hillary Step often formed a bottleneck but some years ago they fixed an up and a down rope. 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.”

It is unlikely that the collapse will deter any would-be mountaineers from attempting the climb, but as known routes have been affected by the loss of the Hillary Step, caution will have to be taken as climbers attempt to safely navigate the new terrain.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.