Nepali climbers said Tuesday that a rocky outcrop near the top of Mount Everest known as the "Hillary Step" is intact, disputing a British climber's claim the feature had collapsed, the AP reports. British mountaineer Tim Mosedale, who last week reached the summit of the world's highest mountain, said the outcrop had disappeared, likely because of a massive earthquake that shook Nepal in 2015. The Hillary Step is a sheer 40-foot vertical wall that is the last highly difficult section climbers must pass before reaching the summit. It is named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who made the first successful ascent of Everest with Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
Nepali climber Lila Basnet, who was among the first group of climbers to reach the summit during this year's spring climbing season, said the feature appeared unchanged. "It appears there was much more snow in the area but we found nothing wrong with the Hillary Step. This is the fifth time I have climbed Everest and it all appears good," said Basnet. A frequent Everest climber, Pasang Tenzing Sherpa, appeared to solve the mystery by saying that he and other lead climbers who opened up the route to the summit in 2016, a year after the quake, had moved the route to go around the Hillary Step for safety reasons. He said Hillary Step was still there when he climbed the mountain last week. Mosedale stood by his account, saying the Hillary Step is "simply not there."