Alex Honnold climbed Yosemite’s El Capitan without ropes or safety gear in the 2018 documentary “Free Solo.” This documentary gave climbing more attention, and it even became an Olympic sport in 2020.
Fast forward to Sept. 2021, and Honnold’s mother, Diedre Wolownick, followed in her son’s footsteps by climbing “El Cap” on her 70th birthday — making her the oldest woman to conquer the 3,000-foot-high granite monolith.
Wolownick’s climbing journey began in 2009, when she was 58 years old, as a way to try to get closer to her son. “I wanted to be part of his life, to share his triumphs as well as his disasters,” Wolownick wrote in her 2019 memoir. “Getting outdoors with my son filled in so many gaps in my education. I learned how little I knew about the mountains. About my own possibilities. About him.”
Wolownick has since become a sort of celebrity in her own right, with recent features in both USA Today and the New York Times, as she pushes boundaries and proves it is never too late to pursue something new. Her 36-year-old son has helped to amplify the attention, too.
“It’s all been an amazing experience, one I never could have dreamed up for myself,” said Wolownick. She has written several books in the past, and is currently planning to write her next book about raising children to be environmentally attuned. Wolownick is also preparing to welcome her first grandchild in February.
Most importantly, though, Wolownick reminds others to get out and enjoy the world, no matter the age.“The most important decision is to start,” Wolownick said. “Once you start and decide you want to do something, it can be powerful. I say, ‘Just try it! Try it! You never know what might happen.’ ”
Image source: LA Times