posted by dpm on 07/30/2013
Daniel Woods has sent the big rig at the Hollow Mountain Cave in Australia's Grampians. The Wheel of Life is the famous link-up of many hard problems out the belly of the cave's massive roof. Originally graded V16 by first ascentionist Dai Koyamada, the problem has been suggested as V14, V15, V16, or, due to its length, given the route grade of 5.15a. Regardless of the grade, it's on the to-do list of most of the world's best boulderers and now Daniel has joined the elite crew to have sent it. Woods gave the full report to his sponsor, Organic Climbing, which they posted on their Facebook page.
Daniel Woods on the Wheel of Life. Photo: Beau Kahler/Oranic's Facebook page.
"In 2004, Japanese climber Dai Koyamada climbed the king line out of the Hollow Mountain cave; "The Wheel of Life." The 60+ move monster links X-Treme Cool (7C), Sleepy Hallow (8A), Cave Man (7C), and Dead Can't Dance (8A). Rests separate each boulder problem, but you are climbing out a horizontal ceiling, so it is impossible to stay "fully recovered" (unless your Alex Megos, he did not get pumped). This aspect of the climb was challenging for me. I have never completed a line of this style before. Usually after 30 moves I become fully loaded. Learning how to accomplish such a line was the main attraction along with the sheer beauty The Wheel of Life offered. Everything about the problem is perfect from holds to moves.
I battled with poor conditions for the first few days but used this time to learn each section and build endurance. Instead of robotically moving between each hold, I learned how to flow and gain rhythm to conserve energy. The Wheel of life boils down to one low percentage move at the end. You have to place a right heel hook on a flat wall panel, keep tension and reach backward with your right hand to a sloping gaston pocket, pull into your shoulder and hope it doesn't break, then get your left foot up next to your right and finish off on jugs. I would climb to the end several times, but did not have the mental capacity to keep going. This became a mind game, in which prevented me from sending.
Three days before my departure back to America, blue skies and a dry wind came through the cave. My friend Beau Kahler and 3 local Aussies were the only ones up there. I spent 20 minutes brushing each hold and going through the sections in my head. This was the first time I could visualize myself climbing the moves in a relaxed manor. I felt psyched and pulled on for my first attempt. I climbed all the way to the end but crumbled on the gaston move. After an hour off, I found myself back at the beginning staring back at the line. My stomach started to feel nauseas as I envisioned the process of getting through each section. I pulled on and set off. I had fun with the moves and developed a good flow. I arrived to the last boulder and just had 2 more moves remaining. I was able to turn my head off and climb through the gaston to the top. It felt incredible to be on top of the cave and overcome the mental challenge that this line presented. The Wheel of Life has always been a lifelong goal and now it is completed."
In keeping with DPM tradition, every time someone sends the Wheel of Life, we will rewatch this great video of James Kassay climbing the slightly harder direct finish. Click the image for video. You will watch it again, and you will like it.