Mount Everest’s iconic Hillary Step, a nearly vertical 39-foot slab of rock that stood as the final challenge to the summit, has collapsed, reports the BBC. The step was likely the victim of the 2015 earthquake that closed the mountain; pictures from last May appeared to show a change in shape, but it was covered in snow so its demise couldn't be verified at the time. British climber Tim Mosedale reached the summit on Tuesday and confirms what had been suspected via Facebook.
"It’s official - The Hillary Step is no more," he wrote. "Not sure what's going to happen when the snow ridge doesn't form because there's some huge blocks randomly perched hither and thither which will be tricky to negotiate." It's unclear whether the newly created terrain will be easier to scale as there won't be a vertical face to conquer, or will create dangerous bottlenecks due to what could be "limited paths up the section," the Guardian reports. If it's the latter, climbers would be forced to spend extra time essentially immobile in the cold and at high altitude. The Hillary Step was named for the first man to climb it: Sir Edmund Hillary managed the feat in 1953. (Earlier this month, a man was found hiding in a cave on Everest.)