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The Wheel Of Life

The Wheel of Life, easily one of Australia’s most well-known climbs, is a mammoth 68 move roof traverse in the Hollow Mountain Cave in the Grampians, Victoria. At over 70ft in length, this classic testpiece blurs the line between bouldering, traversing, and sport climbing.








21m (70ft)

First Ascent

Dai Koyamada

Date of FA


The Wheel Of Life

Ascent Log

ClimberSuggested GradeDate of AscentNotes
Dai Koyamada8C/V1512th May 2004Video
Christopher Webb-Parsons8C/V1513th Oct 2007Video
Ethan Pringle9a/9a+ (Sport Route)24th Jun 2010Video
James Kassay8C+/V167th Sep 2011Wheel Direct FA
Benjamin Cossey8B+/V1430th Sep 2011
David Graham9a+ (Sport Route)8th Jun 2012
Ian Dory9a+ (Sport Route)17th Jun 2012Video
Alexander Megos9a (Sport Route)6th Jul 2013DMM Article
Daniel Woods9a (Sport Route)23rd Jul 2013Video
Jorg Verhoeven8C/V154th Nov 2015Instagram Post
Alex Barrows8B+/9a (Soft)28th May 2016Blog Post
Thomas O’Halloran8B+/V1420th Oct 2017Video
Jake Bresnehan8C/V159th Mar 2019La Sportiva Interview

Climb Profile

The Route

When The Wheel of Life got its first ascent in 2004 by Dai Koyamada he proposed the boulder grade of V16/8C+. This would have made it the hardest problem in the Southern Hemisphere and the hardest boulder problem in the world, at the time. The Wheel would have matched the proposed grade of Mauro Calibani’s Tonino ’78 problem, established earlier in the same year. Although both problems are now widely considered to be in the V15/8C range, The Wheel of Life is still one of the most iconic and visually appealing climbs that can be found. 

The Wheel of Life links up four exciting problems and creates the most obvious line through the roof of the Hollow Mountain Cave. Starting at the bottom, the Wheel begins with X-treme Cool, (V8/V9) into a double kneebar rest. From there, it transitions into Fred Nicole’s Sleepy Hollow (V11/V12) requiring powerful compression moves and intricate foot sequences. 

After that, it’s onto an easier Cave Man (V9), consisting of approximately 20 moves, with another kneebar rest in the middle. The final section, which is the crux sequence in the problem, moves into the final link-up of Dead Can’t Dance (V11/V12) climbing out of the cave and exiting out of Rave Heart (V8).

Wheel of life - Australia
Wheel of Life ©HardClimbs

Wall of Glory

First Ascent: Dai Koyamada

12th May 2004

After Fred Nicole unlocked the final piece of the puzzle, Sleepy Hollow, in 2000 it opened up the possibility for a complete link-up of the entire cave. In 2004, Dai Koyamada traveled to the Grampians with the intention of bagging the first link-up of the highly anticipated Hollow Mountain Cave problem.

Koyamada’s 50-day siege began by methodically working on each section of the problem. Eventually, after several weeks of dialing in beta and working the crux sequences, Koyamada claimed the first ascent of the roof. He did so without the use of a knee pad and spent almost 10 minutes on the climb. He awarded the problem the grade of V16, making it one of the hardest problems in the world at the time.


Second Ascent: Taylor Parsons

13th October 2007

The first repeat of The Wheel of Life came at the hands of the Australian professional climber Chris Webb Parsons, now known as Taylor Parsons. Claiming an ascent of The Wheel had been a goal of Taylor’s for years prior to bagging the ascent. 

Being an Australian native, Taylor had spent her fair share of time in the Grampians, despite it being over a 13-hour drive away from her home. In 2007 alone, Taylor had made multiple trips to the Cave, and had even made ascents of a smaller link Dai set up called Sleepy Rave on the 4th of September 2007. After returning later in the month for an attempt at The Wheel, Taylor wasn’t able to make a full link-up, despite coming frustratingly close and falling 12 times on the final section of the link up. 

In mid-October, Taylor returned on a 4 day trip to the Grampians with the intention of claiming an ascent of the Wheel. On the first day, after only a quick warm-up, Taylor stuck every move perfectly and claimed her long-awaited first repeat of the line.

Chris on Wheel of Life

Third Ascent: Ethan Pringle

24th June 2010

Almost three years after Parsons’ ascent, The Wheel would get another repeat by Ethan Pringle. Pringle was recovering from a string of injuries that had hampered early success on Jumbo Love as well as the ABS Nationals the year prior. 

Nevertheless, Pringle showed his return to form after making quick work of The Wheel, spending only four days working the problem. He was also the first climber to suggest giving the problem a sport climbing grade, offering a personal grade of 5.14d/9A. 

The decade since Pringle’s repeat has seen 9 other climbers bagging an ascent of the coveted line. James Kassay was next after Pringle who, two months after his repeat even went to establish The Wheel of Life Direct,  starting from a lower point in the cave and adding an additional 10 moves to the end, exciting out of Amniotic World (V9), the highest part of the cave.

Ethan on the longest boulder in the world  ©MarkHeal

Video Library


Meet Angel, a former desk-jockey turned global wanderer. After catching a severe case of the climbing (and travel) bug, she's now a world traveller, living the dirtbag dream. Highballs? Too mainstream for her taste. She's all about the thrills of lowballs, where the real action happens. Nowadays, you'll find her in Thailand, either precariously balanced on a granite slab or trading stories with Nemo and his buddies underwater!

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