News broke this weekend that the most famous chunk of Mt Everest, Hillary Step, is no longer there. Mountaineers are divided on the difficulty of the climb now that the Step is no gone, with some saying the snow-covered slope will be much easier to climb than the notorious rock-face, but warn that it could create a bottleneck, according to Planet Mountain. Following this news, word came in that the mountain had claimed more lives.
Roland Yearwood, a 50-year-old physician from Alabama, died attempting to climb Mount Everest on Sunday morning, tourism officials said. He was married to another physician, Amrita, and has two college-aged daughters.
Another official with the department, Gyanendra Shrestha, said later Sunday that a man from Slovakia, Vladimir Strba, part of a separate expedition, also died. Mr. Strba, 48, died at a camp at an elevation of about 8,000 meters, Mr. Shrestha said.
Francesco Enrico Marchetti, a 53-year-old Australian climber, was killed when he was descending to the lower camps from the North Col route on Everest on Sunday morning, according to the Tibet Mountaineering Association.
An Indian climber, Ravi Kumar, has gone missing from the balcony area after he was descending to lower camps after standing atop the world’s highest peak Saturday, according to the expedition organizer.
It is unclear at this time if the destruction of the Hillary Step played any role in the death of Yearwood, who survived the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. That earthquake apparently also led to the demise of the famous Hillary Step, a 39-foot rocky outcrop on the mountain’s southeast ridge that mountaineers’ regarded as the last great challenge before the peak. British mountaineer Tim Mosedale wrote on Facebook after reaching the summit last week: “It’s official — The Hillary Step is no more.” It was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first to scale it in 1953.
“Not sure what’s going to happen when the snow ridge doesn’t form because there’s some huge blocks randomly perched hither and thither which will be quite tricky to negotiate,” Mosedale wrote on Facebook.
*We will update this post as more information becomes available.