Speculation on whether or not Everest’s Hillary Step was destroyed during the 2015 Nepal earthquake began a year ago. Since that time, there has been a back and forth in media outlets and among climbers as to the current state of the notorious step. Was the step gone or was it buried under snow near the summit?
We now have a definitive answer from American climbers Garrett Madison and Ben Jones. The climbers, who summited the world’s heights peak in May, tell Outside that the Hillary Step has been significantly altered.
The Hillary Step, located at an elevation of 28,839 feet, was a near-vertical rock outcropping 200 feet below Everest’s summit. Both Madison and Jones confirmed to Outside that the main boulder—the largest and highest rock in the feature—is gone.
“The boulder formally know as the Hillary Step is gone,” Madison says. “It’s pretty obvious that the boulder fell off and has been replaced by snow. You can see some of the rocks below it that were there before, but the gigantic boulder is missing now.”
According to Madison, it seems that the rockfall might actually make the final push to the summit easier, “Now, instead of the Hillary Step, you have some snow steps on a 45-degree angle,” Madison says. “And it actually makes the climbing much easier because instead of ascending this pure vertical rock face, it’s just walking up some snow steps with a fixed line.”