Has Mount Everest's iconic 'Hillary Step' collapsed?

British mountaineer Tim Mosedale, who ascended Mount Everest for the sixth time on May 16, has confirmed reports that the step has collapsed.

The rocky outcrop was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first person to scale the mountain in 1953.

It was believed the face was damaged by the 7.8 magnitude quake in Nepal which struck in 2015 but it was not confirmed owing to snow.

Another climber, Pasang Tenzing Sherpa, said confusion might have come about because mountaineers marking a new route to the summit had approached it from another side, "from where the Hillary Step can not be seen".

Hillary Step, which stood on the mountain's southeast ridge, was the last hurdle before reaching the summit.

Contrary to reports saying that there was reduced snowfall on Mount Everest this year, Ang Tshering Sherpa claimed that Hillary Step was covered by "excessive snowfall", which could lead climbers to erroneously assume it had collapsed.

It's been mooted by some mountaineers that the loss of the Hillary Step could make the ascent of the record-breaking mountain easier as climbers will no longer be required to undertake a vertical rock climb.

The harrowing discovery comes after four climbers died while trying to reach Everest's 8,850-metre peak over the weekend, including Australian Francesco Enrico Marchetti.

Mountaineers claim that the snow-covered slope will be much easier to climb than the notorious vertical rock-face, but loose rocks could also make it hard and time consuming.

The body of Indian 27-years-old climber Ravi Kumar was spotted on Monday two days after he summited and then lost contact.

The identities, genders and ages of the climbers found deceased in the tent on Tuesday night are still not known.

Slovakian climber Vladamir Strb died near the "Balcony", a small platform near the summit in the so-called "death zone", also on Sunday, according to the Nepal Tourism Department.

Six climbers have already died on the world's highest mountain during this climbing season attempting to reach the 8,850m (29,035ft) summit.

Roland Yearwood, 50, from Georgiana in the U.S. state of Alabama, died on Sunday but details were not immediately known, according to a local expedition agency worker.

  • Salvatore Jensen