From the end of the world to its summit, navigator Maxime Sorel recounts his ascent of Everest | TV5MONDE

“I have never felt so much in danger as on the mountain”. Back from the summit of Everest, which he reached in mid-May, the French skipper Maxime Sorel, 10th in the last Vendée Globe, talks about this extraordinary double achievement.

A few days before the 70th anniversary of the first conquest of Everest, carried out on May 29, 1953 by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, another unprecedented feat took place at 8,848 meters above sea level. sea.

Maxime Sorel, 36, became on the night of May 17 to May 18 the first man in history to have completed a Vendée Globe, a perilous solo sailing circumnavigation of the globe, and to have reached the roof of the world. , with an oxygen apparatus.

“It was quite strong (…). I started looking at the stars because it was a beautiful night and I told myself that I would never see them so close again”, recalls the native of Saint-Malo, back in Paris after more than 40 days of expedition in Nepal.


The journey was tough for the sailor from the V and B – Monbana – Mayenne stable. Arrived at the beginning of April in Kathmandu, accompanied by the mountaineer Guillaume Vallot, with whom he had prepared for a long time in the Alps, Sorel began four weeks of acclimatization to high altitude.

“There, we start to feel the body which is struggling because there is not much oxygen. Just going to the toilets at the base camp (5,364 meters), we are out of breath. We lives sick, as if we had permanent bronchitis”, says the 10th of the last Vendée Globe.

However, this is where the hardest part begins. The crew began the ascent on May 16, but two members stopped along the way because they could not get used to the altitude and the cold, reaching -40°C with the gusts. The navigator still decides to continue with a sherpa.

“I never thought of giving up. I made it an absolute point of honor to want to reach this summit (…) I was just afraid of something. It is that this desire goes beyond reason and that, physically , I can’t pick up the signals from my body,” says Sorel.

WIFI password

The icy feeling that bites his toes disappears little by little, during the last efforts. “We start to think, to lose our heads a little. To keep our minds clear, I recited the base camp wi-fi code over and over,” he explains.

It was during the descent, as day broke, that he finally realized and drew comparisons with his adventure in the Vendée Globe. “It’s incredible (…). In the South Seas, there is (also) this kind of infinite immensity where there is nothing”, estimates the thirty-year-old.

This project, launched in 2017 to “highlight the Vaincre la Mucoviscidose association”, the sailor experienced it as more dangerous than a solo world tour.

“In the Vendée, a lot of adventures happened, the boat going down, the mast touching the water. I was afraid of not finishing the race, but I was never afraid for myself. because there is this protective box. There, it’s your body that takes everything”, says the one who circumnavigated the world in 82 days in 2021.

A duration which suggests to him that “Everest of the Seas” remains on the other hand the most physically demanding challenge. “On the ascent, the big intensity lasts five days. A Vendée Globe is a bit like climbing Everest several times,” says Sorel.

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