Jorg Verhoeven sent The Wheel of Life (V15) in the Grampians, Australia yesterday, November 3. He cranked the endurance test-piece after only five days of effort.
“One of my all time dream problems!” Verhoeven posted on Instagram. “After working the 60+ moves into perfection I gave it one good go a day and ended up on top on day five.”
The Wheel of Life blurs the lines between bouldering and route climbing. At 70 feet in length, it could easily qualify as a route. But the roof traverse in the Hollow Mountain Cave—linking a V9, V12, V10, and V11 into a 60+-move-monster—only rises a handful of feet off the deck until the very end.
Dia Koyamada established Wheel of Life, using 71 moves, in May 2004. At first, he suggested V16 for the grade but later changed his mind to V15, where consensus has settled. Due to the length of the climb, Wheel of Life has also been graded using the Yosemite Decimal System from 5.14d up to 5.15a, instead of a bouldering V-grade.
“I can’t agree to a route grade,” Verhoeven writes, “since [Wheel of Life] doesn’t gain much height, nor needs rope or draws.” He says the 8c (V15) grade seems fitting.
According to the Hard Climbs database, Verhoeven is the tenth climber to have sent Wheel of Life since Koyamada’s FA in 2004. The last known ascent of Wheel of Life came from Daniel Woods in 2013 (check out the video below). A few weeks before Woods, Alex Megos cruised Wheel of Life in just two sessions.
Not only is Verhoeven at the top of his bouldering game, he’s also one of the best all-around climbers, ticking off impressive sport and traditional routes. In October 2014, Jorg Verhoeven became the fourth climber to free The Nose (5.14) on Yosemite’s El Cap—more than 20 years after Lynn Hill claimed the first ascent. Check out the Louder Than 11 video of his ascent here. LT11 also captured Verhoeven’s Wheel of Life send. Stay tuned for the video.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Verhoeven writes, “but similar to free-climbing The Nose, I almost feel a little sad it’s over…”
Watch Daniel Woods Climb Wheel of Life (V15):