The Hillary Step


Named after the final, almost vertical 40-foot cliff-face that Hillary and Tenzing Norgay scaled in reaching the summit of Everest, the Hillary Step is a metaphor for the challenges innovative leaders face.

Hillary and Tenzing Norgay at Camp IV after their ascent of Everest. Photograph courtesy of The Royal Geographic Society (with IBG).


The Hillary Step is a prize that is given every four years to the person (likely but not necessarily a Hillary global Laureate) whom the Hillary Summit determines has a project where direct financial support from the Institute may enable a significant hurdle to be overcome in the chosen topic area.

The Hillary Step is valued at a minimum of NZD100,000 and complements similar awards at the highest international level. Attracting international focus upon the recipient and their work, the Hillary Step brings further international attention to those leaders who raise the bar and make the world a better place.

The inaugural Hillary Step was awarded in 2012 to 2010 Laureate Peggy Liu. The 2016 Hillary Step was jointly awarded to Mike Brune and Atossa Soltani.