Did you use oxygen?
> Yes, my main aim was a complete descent on skis, so getting to the top was just the start of my adventure. I couldnt risk failing to get to the departure point. In autumn the temperatures are very low and without oxygen you feel too cold. Its a compromise I had to make.
Now its over, dont you regret having used oxygen? Dont you feel as if somethings missing?
> I made a step forward with this kind of adventure. In a few years someone will probably make the first complete descent without oxygen. Lets hope so. Mine was just a step, there are a lot more to take. In any case, the first complete descent from the summit of Everest will always be mine.
Where are the most difficult sections on the South Face? The Hillary Step just below the summit creates problems for mountaineers. How did you manage to ski down it?
> Skiing down the Hillary Step proved to be a lot less difficult than the previous section, along the very thin and exposed crest. Its delicate and you really feel the altitude. You can probably deal with it better on a snowboard. On skis its complicated because there isnt much space.
I got round the Hillary Step by skiing to the left, down a kind of exposed gully. From there to the South Summit the descent is very technical, and from here I continued without oxygen. The next part is pretty delicate as theres a risk of avalanches. I didnt exactly feel comfortable skiing on those wind slabs!
Then from the South Col, how did things go? Did you stop?
> Yes, I stopped for a drink and to put the digital camera on my helmet. It was quite a short stop. At 11.30 in the morning I reached Camp One, at 6000 metres, just above the Ice Fall.
How did you manage to get past the Ice Fall without taking your skis off?
> Theres only one way to avoid the Ice Fall. I had to keep a diagonal line high to the right, immediately beneath the South Face. Its exactly the kind of place youd never want to be in: steep and exposed to the serac falls from above. Whats more if you fall youd certainly finish off right in the middle of the Ice Fall - they wouldnt even get you out in little pieces.
I was extremely tense and tired. Then at last, at 12.40 I got down to Base Camp, glad that it was all over. Id been on the go for 15 hours, I felt drained and couldnt sleep. It was as if I was light years from this world. I couldnt even manage to feel happy.
Now how do you feel when you think about your descent?
> I feel a huge sense of joy. Youre right to stress the word your. I feel that its something that is absolutely, intimately mine. Deep down Id always thought that I had a date with destiny on that mountain. I was sure that sooner or later my dream would come true. I had to sacrifice several things for this dream. Even my four children have been caught up in one way or another in this adventure that has been accompanying me right through my life as a skier. Even their lives have been touched by Everest. The mountains have often kept me away.
> Now Im totally satisfied, I havent got any future projects. I cant manage to find any, everything seems so far away after that descent. Im surprised at how weak my desire to find another goal is. Maybe Im too satisfied with my life at the moment and the fact that Im not a professional means I can be free, that Im not obliged to invent something even more difficult. Right now I only want to take my children skiing and climbing.