The Hillary Step is a nearly vertical rock face with a height of around 12 metres (39 ft) located high on Mount Everest at approximately 8,790 metres (28,839 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.
When Hillary and Tenzing first climbed the Hillary Step on 29 May 1953, they climbed the crack between the snow and the rock. Ascent and descent 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.
First ascents in 2016 revealed that 2015 Mount Everest avalanches removed large boulders from the area, making it significantly easier to cross the step. Instead of a nearly vertical stone wall, climbers now have to traverse a snow ramp.