Following a year of rumors, two American climbers have said that a significant part of the route to Mount Everest’s summit has collapsed.
The two climbers, Garrett Madison and Ben Jones, told Outside Magazine that the Hillary Step has been significantly altered after the pair summited the mountain in late May. The Hillary Step is a near-vertical rock formation 200 feet below the mountain’s summit, and has long been considered one of the biggest obstacles on the mountain’s South Col route. According to the two climbers, the main boulder, which is the largest and highest rock, is gone.
The formation’s collapse has been rumored for more than a year following Nepal’s 2015 earthquake, The Guardian reports, after photographs by the American Himalayan Foundation appeared to show part of the formation missing. Heavy snow cover, however, made it difficult to tell.
Another British mountaineer, Tim Mosedale, told the BBC that the formation had collapsed after reaching the summit May 16. At the same time, Pasang Tenzing Sherpa, a high-altitude guide, said that the formation was still intact.
"Nothing has happened to Hillary Step as a result of the earthquake," Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told the BBC. "It's only that only a small portion of the rock is visible, the rest is under snow.”