One of Mount Everest’s famous rocky ridges, known as the Hillary Step, has collapsed, making the near-vertical rock potentially even more dangerous to mountain climbers.
Mountaineers confirmed that the well-known rock, located approximately 28,800 feet above sea level and known as the last obstacle before reaching the top of Mount Everest, was gone.
“It was reported last year, and indeed I climbed it last year, but we weren’t sure for certain ‘The Step’ had gone because the area was blasted with snow,” British climber Tim Mosedale, who reached the summit on May 16, wrote in a Facebook post. “This year, however, I can report that the chunk of rock named ‘The Hillary Step’ is definitely not there any more. [sic]”
Mosedale believes The Step was most likely destroyed during Nepal’s devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2015, which left nearly 9,000 people dead and 23,000 injured.
The Hillary Step was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first person, along with Tenzing Norgay, to climb Mount Everest in 1953.
The Step is “a piece of mountaineering history that has disappeared,” Mosedale told the Guardian. “Even non-mountaineers know the name and association of the infamous Hillary Step.”
The Step’s destruction may make the climb easier, or more dangerous, according to the Guardian. The trek will no longer include climbing the almost-vertical rock, but there may now be limited paths up the area, meaning those scaling Mount Everest will have to wait longer, in cold temperatures and a high altitude, while others attempt the climb.