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11/16/12 – Australian climber James Kassay has generated some buzz this week after extending The Wheel of Life in the Grampians’ Hollow Mountain Cave in Australia.
The Wheel of Life has been called both a bouldering problem and a route: It’s located in a horizontal cave with a low topout, but has more than 65 moves—it links four separate boulder problems: X-Treme Cool, Sleepy Hollow, Cave Man, and Dead Can’t Dance before exiting right. Kassay first climbed the problem/route in September 2012 and agreed with the V16 grade that Dai Koyamada, the first ascensionist, originally suggested. Now, he’s started at the lowest point, traversed through all four problems, and topped out with an additional 10 moves at the cave’s high point.
“Not feeling particularly fit or strong, I decided to jump on X-Treme Cool and just climb as far as I could before falling off… It took everything that I had to keep going. Fortunately being the stubborn person that I am, letting go was not an option so I just kept moving,” Kassay said on his blog.
The grade has been the subject of much debate. Climbers have called The Wheel of Life V15, V16, and 5.14d. Kassay didn’t offer a grade for the direct finish. “All I know is that for me, it felt a hell of a lot harder than the original,” he wrote. “I climbed a specific line and welcome anyone to repeat it and give me their opinion of it.”
The Grampians National Park is located in Victoria, Australia, approximately 170 miles north and west of Melbourne. It has a high concentration of mostly sport and trad climbing on high-quality sandstone.
Date of ascent: November 2012