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For the past few months, Dru Mack had been working on Life of Villains, a 5.14d in the Hurricave, outside Hurricane, Utah. He had never sent a climb of that grade, despite trying plenty in the past. But this time, he approached the project differently.
“In the past I’ve tended to beat my head against the wall until I do something,” Mack wrote in an email to Climbing. “But with this one I climbed on other things often and spent a bit of time training in the gym. I think this really helped me keep the mind and body, fresh and strong.”
On March 22, the strategy paid off. He ticked Life of Villains, making the sixth ascent, and nabbing his first 5.14d.
But he didn’t stop there. Mack went on to have his “best day climbing ever,” also logging redpoints of two other 5.14s.
Immediately after sending Life of Villains, Mack continued his positive momentum and took on 86’d (5.14b), a linkup of Cliffdwellers (5.13a) and Peregrination (5.14b). He sent it first try of the day. He had tried it a few times in the past as a “burnout pitch,” but “without ever much focused effort,” he wrote.
Mack didn’t stop there. He then tied in for Killer Z (5.14a/b) and ticked the horizontal roof linkup.
Mack moved to Saint George from his stomping grounds in the Red River Gorge this winter, and his recent highwater mark is validation that he made the right choice. Looking forward in light of his phenomenal day, Mack said, “It reinforces my decision to move from my home base of Kentucky and slow down in the desert. With lifetimes of routes in this area and all the surrounding zones, I’m excited to keep pushing!”
The Hurricave is about 45 minutes from Saint George and 15 minutes from Hurricane, Utah. Joel Kinder bolted and made the first ascent of Life of Villains in 2018, and was later repeated in 2018 by Matty Hong, and in 2019 by Jonathan Siegrist, Evan Hau, and Jon Cardwell.
From Louisville, Kentucky, Mack has been climbing since he was 12 and honed his skills with countless hours on the steep walls of the Red River Gorge. He redpointed 5.13a before he finished high school, and broke into the 5.14 range with Omaha Beach (5.14a). In March 2016 he sent Southern Smoke (5.14c), a project that took him a year to complete. In 2018 he sent Pure Imagination (5.14c) in only three weeks. He sent Lucifer (5.14c) in the spring of 2019.
Mack has ticked hard climbs elsewhere across the U.S, as well. This past fall in Rifle he sent The Crew (5.14c). He has also sent V13s in Hueco Tanks and hard 5.14s in Spain.