Meet the 70-year-old who is believed to be the oldest woman to climb Yosemite’s El Capitan
Meet Dierdre Wolownick – the 70-year-old woman believed to be the oldest female to climb Yosemite National Park’s famous El Capitan rock formation.
Dierdre Wolownick, 70, recently made one of her biggest dreams come true. She successfully climbed Yosemite National Park’s famous El Capitan rock formation in California, becoming the oldest woman to conquer “one of the world’s ultimate challenges for climbers.”
What’s more, the young-at-heart adventurer marked the outstanding achievement on September 23 – her 70th birthday. Interestingly, this wasn’t her first successful attempt to climb El Capitan. Back in 2017, when she was 66, she reached the top for only 13 hours. Unfortunately, by the time she finished her journey, it was too dark to see the summit or enjoy the views.
Speaking to CNN, Wolownick said:
“Most elite climbers who climb the route we climbed, Lurking Fear, take four or five days, and we did it in 13 hours. But I still wanted it, I wanted to be up there and see what it was like for myself. I wanted to sleep up there, to see the sunset and sunrise, and I felt like I had to do it.”
This time, at her 70th birthday, Dierdre scaled El Capitan in just six hours!
The proud risk-taker shared:
“It’s an amazing place to be up there at the top, I could write an entire book about how it felt. I was just blown away by how powerful it felt. There’s nothing like it.”
After the birthday girl made it to the top just in time for the sunset, she and her friends celebrated the magical moment with champagne and cake. She commented:
“I didn’t start climbing 10 years ago to become the oldest woman to get to the top, I did it to get closer to my son. I climbed El Cap for me, because I wanted to experience all of it.”
Dierdre is also proud of her son, Alex Honnold, the first person to free-solo climb El Capitan. His story was eternalized in the BAFTA-winning National Geographic documentary “Free Solo,” which won Best Documentary at the Oscars in 2019.
According to NatGeo, Honnold trained for years in locations in the United States, Europe, China, and Morocco to prepare for his outstanding achievement.
On her blog called Dierdre’s place, the 70-year-old climber writes:
“Climbing El Cap at 70 takes its toll, physically, mentally, emotionally. I’m not ‘down’ yet. Not sure I ever will be, completely.”