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Everest’s historic ‘Hillary Step’ has not collapsed, officials say

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The Hillary Step, which veteran British climber Tim Mosedale says has collapsed.
Tim Mosedal/Everest Expedition
The Hillary Step, which veteran British climber Tim Mosedale says has collapsed.

Story highlights

Veteran climber says the Hillary Step, a key feature near the summit of Everest, has collapsed

But authorities in Nepal insist the famous rock face is still intact

Three climbers died while attempting to reach the summit of the mountain this weekend, another is missing

CNN —  

Authorities in Nepal have denied reports that the famed “Hillary Step” on Mount Everest has collapsed, despite a veteran climber saying he saw it first hand during an ascent last week.

Mountaineer Tim Mosedale, from Everest Expedition, said he passed the sheer rock face near the summit on May 16 and all that remains of it are some blocks, “probably a few tonnes each,” that pose a potential danger to climbers.

Named after Edmund Hillary, the first climber to conquer the mountain with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the “Hillary Step” is considered the final test of endurance for Everest climbers.

The large rocks were “on quite an incline,” Mosedale said. “My suspicion is that if anyone was to try and clamber over that remaining rubble and debris that it would cause it to move.”

“It would probably be quite unstable, and would cause significant hazard to anyone who was below the climber. So really I think it’s an area to be avoided now,” he said.

However, Gyanendra Shrestha from the Nepal Tourism Board and Ang Tshering Sherpa, the President of Nepal Mountaineering Association, disputed Mosedale’s suggestion that the “Hillary Step” has disappeared.

“This is a false rumor,” Ang Tshering Sherpa said. “After this news surfaced … I checked with Sherpas, climbers, and officials at the Base Camp. Hillary Step is intact.”

He said the rock face had been covered by “excessive snowfall … so some people assumed it had collapsed.”

Shrestha said the step had been completely covered by snow so it “made it easier for climbers.”

This season, 375 climbers received permission to attempt an ascent of Everest, the largest number since the summit was first reached in 1953.

It has already claimed a number of lives this year, including three in the past weekend.

Since Friday, more than 200 people have successfully scaled Everest, taking the total number this season to around 250, Shrestha said.