Outdoors

Mount Everest forever changed. Local guides tell magazine that Hillary Step is gone

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson negotiates Hillary Step on his way to the summit of 29,035-foot Mount Everest in 2003. Hillary Step is now gone, two Seattle guides recently told Outside magazine.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson negotiates Hillary Step on his way to the summit of 29,035-foot Mount Everest in 2003. Hillary Step is now gone, two Seattle guides recently told Outside magazine. The Associated Press file, 2003

Two Seattle mountain guides confirmed to Outside magazine that one of Mount Everest’s most famous features is gone.

Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering and Ben Jones of Alpine Ascents International confirmed that the largest rock that forms Hillary Step is gone. Hillary Step is considered one of the most challenging obstacles on the 29,035-foot peak and the last major hurdle before the summit.

Rumors of a significant change to the feature have been circulating for weeks. Authorities in Nepal denied the rumors in late May.

“The boulder formally know as the Hillary Step is gone,” Madison, a Western Washington University graduate and former AAI guide, told Outside. “It’s pretty obvious that the boulder fell off and has been replaced by snow.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.”

Madison summited Everest for the eighth time on May 23. David Hahn, who has guided for Ashford-based International Mountain Guides and Rainier Mountaineering Inc., analyzed Madison’s photos for the magazine and confirmed Madison’s assessment. Hahn has climbed Everest 15 times, more than any non-Sherpa.

Madison told the magazine that the changes to Hillary Step could alleviate some congestion in the area and make the section safer. Hahn and Jones said they are skeptical that the section will be safer, according to the magazine.

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