Back in July Alex Megos was making headlines again, this time with the fastest ascent to date of the world-famous problem, Wheel of Life V15, in Hollow Mountain Cave, Australia.
Verticallifemag.com reported that Alex climbed "Cave Rave (V13) three times, before coming back for his second session... when he completed the full Wheel of Life on his third attempt of the day. Astoundingly, the actual send of the problem was also the first time he had completed the middle section of the roof, Sleepy Hollow (V11)." An hour later, he ticked another V13 in the Cave, Stimulation.
Reflecting on the history of Wheel of Life at Vertical Life they had this to say: "Tactics and beta-sharing aside, Megos’ ascent, perhaps more than any other, heralds the next generation of stronger, better climbers – and signals that the Wheel is no longer at the cutting edge of climbers’ abilities." It's well worth reading the whole article for a perspective on how standards have risen in recent years.
Thanks to Dorothea Karalus for the superbly lit photo of Alex on Wheel of Life above.
Alex has sent us a few words on his ascent and his time down-under in the Grampians:
Wheel of Life V15
"This is probably the most famous boulder problem in Australia and definitely one of the most famous in the world. This line basically climbs the easiest way through the whole Hollow Mountain Cave, linking up a V8, V11, V9 & V11. The climb has over 60 moves, which makes it hard to give it a boulder grade. Personally, I think you have to give it a route grade. I would suggest 9a/9a+, but it definitely depends how it suits you.
I checked out all the moves and parts on our third day in Australia and I was able to climb the final section three times in a row with just a couple of minutes break. Most of the people think, the last V11 part is the crux, so I thought I might have a good chance to climb it soon.
The next day at the Cave I started to make some tries from the start but I failed three times on the first V11. I became frustrated a little because I thought I can’t even manage to get to the real crux. On my fourth go from the start I managed to get through the first V11. In the third part (V9) you have a really good rest, where I nearly fell while resting. I was completely relaxing and suddenly both feet slipped while I was chalking with the one hand. I barely managed to hold the swing with one hand. Both feet back on the wall I rested for another minute and climbed the rest. I was kind of surprised to climb it that fast."
"The idea to visit here was born some months ago, when I thought about my travel plans for the next year. Australia, the only continent I haven’t been to yet. The problem was, I didn’t want to go alone so I tried to find someone who would come with me.
Then one day, on my trip to Siurana, Daniel, a friend of mine told me about his idea to go to Australia, before becoming a teacher. Perfect! We booked our flights for our two-month trip in Australia. During our planning we met another two friends who also had booked their flights to Australia. We arranged to stay with them for five weeks in the Grampians together in a little cabin at the Happy Wanderer Resort in Wartook, which was just a 20 minute drive away from most of the bouldering and sport climbing. After another friend of them came by, we were five climbers in the cabin.
But we weren’t the only climbers in the Grampians. Nearly the whole bouldering scene was present. Daniel Woods, his wife Courtney and Carlo Traversi were our neighbours at the Happy Wanderer. Paul Robinson was their neighbour and Dave Graham and Nalle Hukkataival were also bustling around somewhere to find new boulders. All in all there was a great group of strong climbers around.
The aim of the journey was, like always, to climb and boulder as much as possible, to see as many crags as possible and, of course, to have as much fun as possible.
With the Hollow Mountain Cave and the great bouldering (also the new developed boulders during the last three years) the Grampians are a world class bouldering destination. And on the other hand the Taipan Wall and some other smaller but awesome crags make the Grampians one of the best sport climbing destinations, although you have to get used to their ethics at the beginning.
Most of the routes are 'mixed' so you partly have bolts but also have to place some gear from time to time. If you find a completely bolted route the bolts are often spaced out a little, but normally in the right spot, which makes it a bit scary, but definitely not dangerous. Lets call it adventure climbing.
But there is also something that all the types of climbing have in common, the perfect sandstone quality, which is very unique."
Dead Can’t Dance V11 (Ph: Daniel Müller)
"Dead Can’t Dance is the last part of the Wheel of Life. So this move and the next one is the crux for most of the people trying the Wheel of Life. Luckily I didn’t have problems with that move at all."
Parallel Lines V11 (Ph: Daniel Müller)
"This is a boulder on the 'project wall'. The problem is about 6.5 m high and the crux is a dynamic move nearly at the end of the boulder. The name comes from the two cracks which characterize the boulders. I checked this problem out with Andi, one of the friends we have been with, and after about half an hour I could link all the moves. We tried it ground up, so I didn’t check out the dynamic move before. Luckily I did the move the first time."