James Kassay: Wheel of Life (V16)

posted by dpm on 09/07/2011


After nearly a decade of on and off effort, James Kassay has completed the Wheel of Life (V16) in the Hollow Mountain cave of Australia’s Grampians.  The Wheel of Life is likely the longest hard boulder problem in the world, linking many of the shorter problems in the cave to produce a horizontal mega-pitch that climbs more like a route than a boulder problem.  First established in 2004 by Dai Koyomada, the problem has since been repeated by Chris Webb Parsons in 2007 and Ethan Pringle in 2010.  Ethan chose to log the ascent as a 5.14d route.  Interestingly, Kassay chose to not use a kneepad for the kneebars Ethan had found which he suggests made the problem more difficult.  He also notes on his blog that he’s not done with the cave:

“Is that it for me in the cave??? No way! I may have completed the Wheel of Life but for me that was never the line… The Wheel of Life bails out right at the end of the cave and takes the shorter path. My line of choice will take the direct finish up the highest point of the cave… Will it add another grade? No… It won’t. But it is a harder finish and a more impressive line to take! I hope to get the FA of this in the not too distant future…”

Personally, I’ve always thought this line to be one of the most impressive in the world.  More than once I’ve watched the video of Parson’s ascent with astonishment.  It’s pretty cool to see every detail of such a difficult problem completely wired.


Click the image for video of Chris Webb Parson's on the second ascent of Wheel of Life (V16).