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Climbing in the Grampians: Jake Bresnehan repeats The Wheel Of Life


La Sportiva Australian ambassador tells the story that leads him to conquer “the Wheel of Life” V15 (8c), the famous boulder problem in Hollow Mountain Cave in the Grampians.

Jake’s commitment to climbing this line was inspirational. Living 1200kms away he viewed “The Wheel of Life” as a personal project that allowed him no excuses. He didn’t need to rely on belayers, conditions or weather, he just needed to drive there, walk up to the cave and give it a go.

Text by Jake Bresnehan

It had always been in the back of my mind, but believing in my ability to step up to the challenge was always lacking. Since only my heroes had been successful in accomplishing it, it always seemed like a dream. So when my climbing buddy bailed on a trip to the Grampians in late 2016 it provided the perfect excuse to spend some time on the Wheel and see where my physical ability was at. The first real trip in 2016 is when I spent 3 weeks working each section. Six more trips spread over a two-year period, a copious amount of training and some serious life sacrifices I was able to complete it in September 2018.

First climbed by Dai Koyamada in 2004, The Wheel Of Life is a 30 meter horizontal roof found at Hollow Mountain Cave in the Grampians which consists of around 60 technical moves. It can be broken down into 4 sections (V9, V11, V9, V11). Each section requires specific attributes, be that extreme tension, power endurance, shoulder power and crimp strength. The Wheel Of Life is a king line and should be on everyone’s hit list! As a boulder, it is the result of linking at least V8+V12+V13 and, depending on the exit, adding a V9 on top of that. But the grade math is hard to apply to a line that presents more of an endurance challenge than most boulderers are used to. Regardless of the grade and the logic you may want to use to get to it, there’s no doubt that it is one of the hardest lines on the planet, and a very spectacular one

When it came down to shoes, I have a kind of an obsessive-compulsive disorder... jokes aside, during the two-year process of trying the Wheel I experimented with Skwamas, Pythons and Solutions. The Skwama’s felt super solid, especially for the intricate reverse toe hook on the second section (Sleepy Hollow V11). The Python’s also felt unreal. I loved them on the miniature footholds on the third problem (Cave Man V9) but for me the shoe which helped me elevate was the Solution. The awesome toe heel/toe hook capabilities is without a doubt the best in the business not to mention the superior down turned edging ability. For me they were a game changer to make my ascent of the Wheel achievable, a true “solution” for this problem.

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Climbing in the Grampians is under a real threat of being closed forever. Parks Victoria managers are not making it 100% clear on the situation for climbing in the park with conflicting information. We invite you to sign this petition set up by the local CliffCare organization to show Parks Victoria and local government that climbing in the Grampians doesn’t just affect local Australian climbers, but all climbers across the globe. It is very unfortunate that these crag closures have occurred, because the Grampians might have the best rock on earth.

We appreciate all the work that CliffCare working group is doing, getting behind them here and signing this petition can only assist their work and permitting climbing in the Grampians. Let’s hope that Jake’s ascent of Wheel of Life isn’t the last one!

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