May 23, 2017 11:09 AM EDT
A British mountaineer has recently confirmed that a popular rocky portion near the summit of Mount Everest has collapsed. If this is true, future climbs will be much harder.
According to The Guardian, the Hillary Step in Mt. Everest was named after Sir Edmund Hillary. He, along with the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, was the first person to climb the mountain in 1953. The Hillary Step might have been destroyed during the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
Measuring roughly 12 meters, the rock formation was a near-vertical climb on the southeast ridge of Mt. Everest. Rumors from other climbers also suggest that the Hillary Step is now gone. However, snowy conditions are still making it difficult to confirm. British mountaineer Tim Mosedale took pictures of the said rock and compared it to past photos.
Well, it appears that it has changed significantly through the years. Mosedale's climb last May 16 was already his sixth time to conquer the tallest mountain on Earth. He noted that the presence or absence of the Hillary Step really makes a huge difference between life and death.
For one, its alleged destruction may make the ascent easier as it will no longer involve a vertical rock climb. However, it could also make the climb more dangerous because there may be limited paths to take. Mosedale added that in the current state, it would be difficult to safely go down from the peak of Mt. Everest. This is the main reason why determining what happened to the rock formation is very much a big deal.
Nevertheless, it is important to take the reports with a grain of salt. Authorities in Nepal, per Smithsonian, dismiss Mosedale's claims, actually. They even said that it is completely "false". Ang Tshering Sherpa, the President of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said in earlier interviews that the famous Step is just covered by excessive snowfall which led to the illusion that it disappeared.
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