UPDATED: 9/8/11 - James Kassay has updated his blog with thoughts on his ascent of the Wheel of Life. Regarding the grade, he says, "I'm not a route climber, and as such am not going to give it a route grade. I figure that Dai [Koyamada] has a pretty good idea on things, so I'm going to run with his V16/8c+. I'm not doing it for the grade, but I sure as hell will take it!"
He also addresses the beta he used as opposed to Ethan Pringle's beta. "Call me stubborn, crazy, or outright stupid if you must, but climbing the full length of the cave wasn't just a matter of getting from one end to the other the easiest possible way," he said. "Ethan was confused as to why I didn't want to use the 'easier beta' of putting on knee pads and milking the knee bar rests that are otherwise impossible to use. Ultimately, I set myself a personal goal, and that was the way I was going to do it."
His refers to the nine years, on and off, he has spent working on problems in the Hollow Mountain Cave. He first completed Cave Man, one of the four problems that make up the Wheel of Life, in 2002. A year later, he finished the first half and then the second half of the full link-up. "To me, it was never a matter of 'if' I was going to do it, but a matter of 'when,'" he said. "I have been to the cave on many occasions... I have always gone through phases of being psyched on it, and then other times I have walked away for anywhere up to 12 months at a time, uninspired or just over it."
As far as a direct line to the Wheel of Life, Kassay said he was working on finishing the problem up the highest point of the cave, rather than trending right on the shorter path. "Will it add another grade? No, it won't. But it is a harder finish and a more impressive line to take," he says.
9/7/11 - Australian climber James Kassay has made the likely fourth ascent of the infamous Wheel of Life (V16/5.14d) in the Hollow Mountain Cave, Grampians, Australia.
First ascensionist Dai Koyamada tentatively graded the problem—with 60-plus moves of V9 through V12—V16 in 2004. Chris Webb Parsons made the second ascent in October 2007 and suggested 5.15a, or V15/16. Ethan Pringle, who made the problem's third ascent, suggested 5.14d. (Click here for Pringle's beta on WOL.) Kassay gives it V15/16.
In 2009, Kassay climbed Sleepy Rave (V15), which climbs Wheel of Life without the V9 start. From his scorecard, it looks like he is working on a direct start to WOL. Below is a video of Kassay on Sleepy Rave.
Date of ascent: September 7, 2011