One of the hot topics readers have asked about is if the Hillary Step is still there or not. There have been no comments thus far on the state of the Hillary Step from Sherpas or other climbers that have been in the area. The question is if it is still there or not after the 2015 earthquake.
Hillary Step or Slope?
It is often described as a nearly vertical rock face with a height of around 12 metres (39 ft) at 28,839’/8,790m feet just above the South Summit and 200’/60m below the summit. News broke early in the 2016 season by five time South side summiter, David Liano that the Hillary Step was gone. He took pictures, posted on his blog and the second guessing began. Then last year, 2017, guide Tim Mosedale posted on Facebook “The Hillary Step is no more” and that promoted denials for the Nepal Government.
Government says it OK
CNN reported last year that Gyanendra Shrestha from the Nepal Tourism Board and Ang Tshering Sherpa, the President of Nepal Mountaineering Association, as saying that Mosedale is mistaken. Shrestha said the step had been completely covered by snow so it “made it easier for climbers.”
“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.”
Guides Say its gone
But the two American guides, Garrett Madison with eight summits and Ben Jones with four told Outside Magazine last year that it was gone. Madison was quoted “The boulder formally know as the Hillary Step is gone. It’s pretty obvious that the boulder fell off and has been replaced by snow.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.”
Sherpas say it still there
Last year, Mingma Tsiri Sherpa who has nine summits told the Daily Mail, “The fixed lines are more to the right of the step (than before). We’re now walking on the snow whereas before we had to walk on the rocky side. That is the reason for the confusion.” And 15 time summiter, Pemba Dorje Sherpa said “The Hillary Step is as it was before, but a large stone above it has fallen”
I’ve been eager to hear what the observation is this year so I’ve asked a long time experienced guide to see if his team can take a high-resolution picture and to see if we can decide if it is still a Step or now a Slope.
UPDATE FROM 2018:
Memories are Everything
I think Hillary Step is different every year, depending on how much snow is on the route/rope lines, but I also think the earthquake changed it. So, both of these factors. Let’s go there to check it Alan! 😉
Alan thanks for the many updates going on at the moment! Some are saying the Hilary Step is a bit easier now although I do not think anything is easy on Everest! Reading about the sad news of a trekker that has died at EBC is quite alarming for people, like myself, who would like to do the EBC trek.
IMHO – The photos “2017 Hillary Step by Garrett Madisson” clearly shows that at least some of the “step” is missing. The rock face is completely sheer now, without the protruding bulge. Any idea on what the reason could be for some people denying the change?
Thank you for wonderful updates. Thoroughly enjoy reading about the happenings on all the mountains.
It’s at 8800m, and climbers are also very tired by this point, so I don’t think it’s surprising that we’re getting different visual accounts of the same object especially when the amount of snow will change from year to year too.. I suspect the reality is somewhere in the middle – i.e. it’s changed somewhat but not gone completely, which would explain different accounts, with my first point about altitude etc in mind.
It seems obvious to me that at least some of the rock slid away. I think the yellow hue is because it’s newly exposed rock. But that’s just my opinion. I’m an RN, not a geologist, so what do I know??
Thanks for posting the pictures. I guess the debate goes on.