The Hillary Step is a nearly vertical rock face (height around 12 m or 40 ft) high on Mount Everest, located approximately 8,790 m (28,840 ft) above sea level. It is located on the South East ridge, halfway between the "South Summit" and the true summit and is the last real challenge before reaching the top of the mountain via the South East route. The Step was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first person, along with Tenzing Norgay, to scale it on the way to the summit.
Ascent and descent of the Hillary Step is now generally made with the assistance of fixed ropes, usually placed there by the first ascending team of the season. With increasing numbers of people climbing the mountain in recent years, the Step has frequently become a bottleneck, with climbers forced to wait significant amounts of time for their turn on the ropes, leading to problems in getting climbers efficiently up and down the mountain. At first when Hillary and Tenzing climbed it they climbed the crack between the snow and the rock.