British climber Tim Mosedale confirms the destruction, caused perhaps by the April 2015 quake. The outcrop was named after the first climber who reached the top of the world’s tallest mountain in 1953.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Hillary Step, the last rocky outcrop before the top of Mt Everest at 8,790 metres, has collapsed.
British mountaineer Tim Mosedale confirmed rumours about the rocky barrier’s demise after reaching the summit on 16 May.
The destruction, possibly in the powerful 25 April 2015 earthquake, could make climbing to the summit more dangerous
After the quake, it was noted that the world’s tallest mountain had slipped southwest by about three centimetres.
There had been rumours following earlier expeditions that the near-vertical step had been destroyed, but snowy conditions made it difficult to confirm.
"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," Mosedale wrote on Facebook. "This year, however, I can report that the chunk of rock named 'The Hillary Step' is definitely not there anymore."
The wall of rock, which was the final test of endurance before the summit, was named after Edmund Hillary, the first mountaineer to reach the Everest summit in 1953 with fellow climber Tenzing Norgay.
Many before him had attempted the climb but the nearly vertical 12-metre-high rocky outcrop had made reaching the top very hard.
After he returned to base camp, Mosedale posted a photograph of how the Hillary Step looks now. The picture shows a mass of rocks.
Its destruction may make the ascent easier – as it will no longer involve a vertical rock climb – or more dangerous because there may be limited paths up the section, i.e. climbers will have to wait for long periods in cold temperatures and at a high altitude as others attempt it.