The Wheel of Life, an endurance boulder problem in the Hollow Mountain Cave has recently received a fourth ascent. On Spetember 7th James Kassay completed the sixty-five move problem eight years after first trying it.
The line, now one of the most iconic in the Grampians, climbs out of a cave on a continously overhanging lip linking four boulder problems together. It was first climbed by Dai Koyamada in May 2004, who tentatively gave it V16. In 2007 Chris Webb Parsons made the second ascent and suggested 5.15a, or V15/16. In June last year Ethan Pringle completed the problem giving it 5.14d. Grading such a line which links established problems with established grades is clearly problematic in itself.
James first visited the cave at the age of 16 in 2001. A year later he climbed Cave Man, one of the four problems which makes up the Wheel of Life. In 2003 Kassay completed the first and second half of the route seperately and his thoughts turned to linking them together. Since then he has been back to the cave many times and the Wheel of Life became a long term project. In 2009 he climbed Sleepy Rave V15, which climbs the Wheel of Life without its V9 start.
The route features a number of knee bar rests, which due to time limitations Pringle wore a knee pad for. This made the rests less painful and allowed better recovery, but Kassay decided to do without and ignore the rests which are otherwise 'impossible to use'.
Having finally completed the Wheel of Life Kassay decided against giving it a route grade as he is not a route climber, and confirmed Koyamanda's original grade.
James also has his eyes on a direct finish to the route which takes an impressive line through the highest part of the cave. He thinks that it would make the last few moves harder, but will not affect the overall grade.