By Paul Brouard
It has become a habit of mine to find a project to keep my mind interested in climbing while I’m away from South Africa. When I first bolted and started working Helium Dreams at Umgeni Valley, it felt so impossible that I thought it would represent a huge jump in my strength. I eventually found a sequence that worked: it involved two slaps, one blind slap, a blind heel edge, a razor edge and a twist back to yet another heel. It was cool, hard, crimpy and delicate. I knew it would be absolute hell to link it, which made me psyched
Unfortunately, it was plain wrong.
Leaving it for another year, I opened it up to all takers (i.e. Dave Richardson). Dave ended up ignoring all my hard earned beta, opting for a more direct version, and after slapping once right, he continued straight up, leaving out all the holds round to the right that I had used. So in December 2011 I was back for more punishment. Unfortunately, I left most of my strength in Cape Town and at the Christmas table. But Dave’s beta worked, barely. The new way kept our feet far under the lip, with me cursing my small stature. It also involved some very core-intensive micro-footholds. But all things considered it was a much more do-able sequence. But there was no way I was fit enough or light enough.
Back again in June 2012, I’m at my regular weight and had spent a few weeks mimicking at the gym the delicate, unusual foot movements required to bring your weight over the small roof: beta which turned out, again, to be wrong. Frustrated at the low percentage moves, at one point I decided to just high-step onto a sloping section of rock near the bolt. And the final beta was born: a combination of the Dave’s direct hands, and my direct feet! Now it’s hard to say why we missed it. Perhaps we weren’t strong enough before or perhaps it’s just damn hard to find beta when you can’t breathe. Either way, the product is a stellar line.
Below is a clip of Dave on a close attempt with the final, ‘simple’ beta!
So Dave grabbed the FA last Thursday. A fine achievement from the secret ninja! Perhaps not so secret any more! Expect more good sends from him in the future! And I dragged my heading-into-middle-aged ass up the next day for a particularly rewarding send.
Funnily enough, we had the exact same experience on the top ‘easy’ half of the route. Both of us felt terrified at the mid-way rest. We didn’t know the top all that well and were suddenly confronted with redpoint pressure! Each in-cut crimp was near crushed, each small foothold ignored for high-steps onto handholds! Each with a deep flash pump on finally reaching the chains on the relatively easy 27ish top-out!
From Paul’s 8a.nu scorecard
“Great moves on a fine piece of rock. It could be a lower grade since the final beta is fairly straight-forward actually. And perhaps if I had got my head out my ass I would have done it sooner. Hard to ignore all the ‘mis-guided’ work when grading it though. Anyway, I feel strong Haha. Big kudos to Dave for the FA!”
From Daves 8a.nu scorecard:
“Some of the coolest moves I’ve ever been on. Special thanks to Paul for allowing me to work this amazing line with him, it was an awesome experience“.