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Alard hanging out during the bolting of Paradigms Shift. Pic by Douard


Douard bolting on Paradigms Shift.




Paradigms Shift, 22; 6 pitches 200m *****

 Bolted and opened By Douard Le Roux and Alard HŁfner May 2004


The Sentinel, the Drakensberg.

To get there;

From Harrismith in the Free State take the road through Pumthadijaba (old Qwa Qwa) and follow the signs to Witsiehoek Hotel. At the fork just before the hotel take the right turn to the car park. There is  hikers hut at the car park or you can camp in the parking lot for free.


Follow the path from the car park to just below the main face underneath the leftward facing corner system that is the North Face route. Leave the path at the cairns and follow the obvious rightward sloping grass slope that cuts through the rock bands until it is possible to walk to the clean faces just right of the corner system. Climb about 5 metres up the up most grass ledge below a crack system just right of the flake. First bolt should be seen just right of flake.


Pitch 1: Grade 20. Tong ring pitch

Follow crack system to top of flake and break left and then up to belay station.

 Pitch 2: Grade 21

From stance move up to small roof, pull through roof and delicately balance up to ledge. Continue up tending rightward to awkward layback and up to grassy ledge and stance.

 Pitch 3: Grade 21. Typical berg rock pitch

From stance move up and left to bolt next to loose flake, delicately stand on flake and mantle up to ledge and continue up off-width to a ledge below a roof. Move out left via an airy traverse and mantle up to grassy ledge and follow this rightward to the stance.

 Pitch 4: Grade 22

Thin moves and layback take you to a ledge, move left to base of pillar and delicately balance your way up to the corner system and belay on top of pillar.

 Pitch 5: Grade 22.  Life is good pitch

From stance move right on thin holds until able to move up and follow thin corner to ledge. Traverse left below big roof, pull through on left side and continue up to grassy ledge and stance. Some long quick draws are recommended for this pitch to lessen rope drag.

 Pitch 6: Grade 20. big balls pitch

Walk right and then traverse up and left until you can reach right facing corner and up to ledge, traverse left and then up and right to broken flake. Climb this until a rightward corner system is reached. Climb this to the top, breaking left about 5m before the top and going around big boulder on top. Bolts just over the lip. (Note: Due to the length of the pitch it generates rope drag so climbing on two rope is recommended.)


Rappel the route using 2X50m ropes.


2 x 50m ropes. 14 Quickdraws.



BY Douard Le Roux

The idea to bolt a sport route in the berg was birthed while climbing a trad route in Montague. Just having come off a 5-day big wall made me realise that bolts are great. Alex Harris suggested that I go look at the Sentinel with an eye to bolting a line up it. Two weeks later I was there, trapped in the rain in my tent at the car park. I hardly got to see the walls of the sentinel and walked up the Amphiteatre in the rain and mist instead of rope soloing the SE Arate as I had hoped. Alard got back from Patagonia and I convinced him this was the next big project. A few weeks later and we were back, stuck in the rain again, in a tent at the car park. This time we didnít even get to see the wall. Instead we spent the weekend eating, drinking and playing cards by the fire at the hotel. Finally in May we got to get out there with a hundred bolts, three hundred metres of static line, drill and batteries. I had only bolted my first route a few weeks before in Boven and then placed some rapp anchors with a hand drill on Spizekoppe. This bolting thing could be fun I thought. We eyed out a line down the North Face from the car park, hoping for some sustained face climbing.  

We did not, and do not advocate bolting or retrobolting, want to bolt a tradable line in the berg or anywhere. We walked up the normal route and placed a belay station on the top of the route and then abseiled down the top 50m to check the climbing. From the ledge some delicate climbing brought us to a corner system with pleasant climbing. This being my first time of deciding where to place bolts and their distance apart has lead to the name of the pitch being the big balls pitch. Actually when I lead it I felt more like the stupidity pitch and more bolts will be forthcoming. Nevertheless it is a full 50m pitch of fairly easy climbing.  

Finding our way up the each pitch proved difficult. We were trying to bolt something around 22 on grips that were going to be around for a while and everything seemed to want to snap off but in the end we managed to find good solid Berg rock on each pitch. The fifth pitch I rate as the best pitch on the route and one of the most aesthetic pitches I have climbed and definitely the best pitch Iíve done in the Berg. It is exposed, sustained and really gives you a feeling of being on a big wall with the safety of clipping well placed bolts. 

We struggled to find an obvious route and after one weekend had only bolted two pitches. The following weekend we were back and we knew we had to finish the route or wait months to come back. With just the two pitches done and no definite way through the lower section we thought this just might become the biggest mistake in the berg. Back to the top and then down again. Still no clear route up the lower walls until I dropped my chalk ball over the edge and had a look for it which revealing a stunning face we hadnít even considered but which turned out to be climbable.

 Bolting was an epic as we kept running out of battery power, broke one drill in the car and the other one started falling apart on the last pitch. With seven holes to go the chuck decided to fall off the drill and one of the two ball bearings fell out. We managed to place two more bolts before the other bearing disappeared. Now only a few hours left to bolt and climb, our drill was useless and almost out of power, scratching around for something to use as a bearing for the drill, I took out the stud on my tongue ring and sent it up to Alard. Well, it fitted and we got the final five holes bolted, hence the tongue ring pitch. After a quick lunch we started up the route knowing we had three hours to climb and clean. Leading each pitch was awesome and revealed what we had hoped; good clean fun climbing with no arbitrary pitches. Every pitch has a little something different on it and keeps you on your toes. We topped out in two and a half hours, managed still to write in the summit book and then simul rapp the route before another awesome sunset.



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