Helium Dreams 8c/34

Paul Brouard

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!

Good times.

Paul is sponsored by Edelrid and Vaude

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“.


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11 Responses to Helium Dreams 8c/34

  1. Brian Weaver Jun 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Brilliant job you two! Truly inspiring to us mere mortals…

  2. illona Jun 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    I’m afraid that video clip comes nowhere near to doing justice to this route and the intricate beta which takes such fine precision up a seemingly blank wall. It made my jaw drop every time to see you guys climb this and it was great to witness the excitement build as the sending day drew closer and closer.
    I’m bleak I missed out on the first and second ascent but I’m sure it would have been awesome to witness. Well done to both of you.

  3. Faye Jun 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    I wish i had been there for the sends!!!!! but Yay Yay! Im so stoked for both of you. You guys make a cute team.

  4. ScottS Jun 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Good stuff! Such a crazy line at an awesome crag. Big Up to you both.

    KZN, KZn, Kzn, etc 😉

  5. andrew p Jun 12, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    I looked at this line while working a nearby route, wow it looks rad, big moves on small holds. Massive UP to the Dave and Paul brothers-on-rock. Andrew

  6. Justin Jun 12, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Well done guys!

  7. What a send, Paul and Dave. ....wow that is one impossible looking line...i wish i could have seen you guys putting it together. Are there any pics? Jun 12, 2012 at 9:35 am #


  8. Candice Jun 12, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Well done to both of you. Your months of hard work have paid off Dave,. I do not know a more focused climber. @Justin: Roger N for might have a few pics.

  9. Nattrass Jun 13, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    What impressed me here was Dave’s tenacity. He worked this thing for two years and it was clearly out of his league for the first year – but still he pressed (pulled) on. It was a amazing to see it slowly come together and see him starting to believe the unbelievable.

    And Paul… you are legend (the only climber i know better than you is your sister…;-)

  10. Steven Bradshaw Jun 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Fantastic effort guys!

  11. Steveb Jun 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    Awesome work both of you! Good to have another hard line back home, esp in KZN given the cave’s effective closure.

    Dave, well done pipping Paul at the post – a great claim to fame, stealing one of his projects! Good to see your hard work in (and before) Spain paying off. I have no doubt we’re gonna hear a lot more about you in the future.

    And well done Paul. Look forward to hearing about some Greed action…

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