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Twenty One 5.14s in 2021

Moving to a new area and having an endless tick-list of routes to climb, Dru Mack set out to accomplish a goal that says a lot about his ability to eventually reach his next benchmark...5.15.

December 20 2021

Rock climbing

Dru Mack on Life Of Villains 5.14d - Photo Credit: JP Melville

At the end of 2020 I moved to St. George, Utah far away from the rainy forests of the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. This change put me within the proximity of hundreds of really challenging sport climbs and gave me the opportunity to push my limits on some of the best limestone in the country. In March I climbed the incredible route Life of Villains in the Hurricave, my first 5.14d. I spent a few months trying the route on and off, mixing in other projects and training at the gym. This was my hardest route yet, and to top it off, I climbed 86’d (5.14b) and Killer Z (5.14a) that same day. I then celebrated the best way I know how and immediately ate a cinnamon roll the size of my face. 

I felt so much momentum and excitement that I wanted to set an ambitious goal to chase. That psyche, along with the endless crags around me, led me to create the goal of climbing twenty one 5.14s in the year 2021. 

Dru Mack on Apex Predator 5.14c - Photo Credit: Daniel Alvarez

From there I branched out, seeking new adventures and unique crags. I climbed hard routes that were classics and others that were well under the radar. Each route taught me its own lesson or challenged me in a new way. Routes like Apex Predator (5.14c) and Alphanumeric (5.14b). 

Dru Mack on Alphanumeric 5.14b - Photo Credit: Jonathan Siegrist

I think one of the most difficult routes for me was the very well known Rodeo Free Europe (5.14a) at Wild Iris in Lander, Wyoming. This route features a lot of pockets, which have always been hard for me. This definitely isn't the hardest route I did this year, but it's one that pushed me to be a better and stronger climber. 

Dru Mack on Rodeo Free Europe 5.14a - Photo Credit: Carl Cote

I met my goal with the route Solid Gold (5.14c), which is a perfectly fitting name for the moment. This route is the direct start to Golden which is one of the most classic routes in the southwest. This version of the route circumnavigates a no hands rest, and continuously climbs the steepest and most sustained section of the wall. It is unrelenting endurance; the moves aren't incredibly difficult but there are very few rests. I love this style as it offers the opportunity to fight. If you just keep hanging on and trying as hard as possible, you may find yourself at the top. I ended up climbing this route much more quickly than I anticipated, and I can only believe that it was due to the experiences and knowledge I built all year. 

This year gave me a lot more confidence in myself and showed me what I’m capable of. Maybe 5.15 is around the corner, all I know for sure is I'm going to keep trying like hell. 

Solid Gold 5.14c - Photo Credit: Ryan White

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