News ID: 318091
Published: 1211 GMT November 21, 2021

Meet the 70-year-old who is believed to be oldest woman to climb Yosemite's El Capitan

Meet the 70-year-old who is believed to be oldest woman to climb Yosemite's El Capitan
AUBREY TRINNAMAN/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dierdre Wolownick dreamed of watching the sunset from the top of Yosemite National Park's famous El Capitan rock formation in California.

She has conquered the massive 3,200-foot vertical granite wall.

Now the 70-year-old New York native is believed to have become the oldest woman to climb up the wall to the summit of El Capitan, known as "one of the world's ultimate challenges for climbers," according to Yosemite's official website, CNN wrote.

Wolownick broke her own record on her birthday September 23 when she once again made it to the top of the rock formation, Hans Florine, a record-breaking rock climber who keeps a record of ascents in Yosemite Valley, confirmed to CNN.

The first time she accomplished the harrowing feat was in 2017 when she was 66 years old. It took her 13 hours to complete the technical climb, and by the time she reached the top, it was too dark to see the summit or the views.

"Most elite climbers who climb the route we climbed, Lurking Fear, take four or five days, and we did it in 13 hours." Wolownick told CNN. "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."

Equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools it would take to make it back up the granite monolith. Wolownick made her dream come true, scaling El Capitan in just six hours, in time to witness the sunset on her birthday.

"It's an amazing place to be up there at the top, I could write an entire book about how it felt," Wolownick said. "I was just blown away by how powerful it felt. There's nothing like it."

National Geographic, which dubbed the climb "the moon landing of free-soloing," said Honnold trained for years in locations in the US, Europe, China and Morocco.

Iconic for its near vertical cliffs, Yosemite's El Capitan was believed to be impossible to climb until 1957, when American rock-climbing pioneer Warren Harding made it to the top with two aides. But they weren't using just their hands.

"Climbing El Cap at 70 takes its toll, physically, mentally, emotionally. I'm not 'down' yet," she wrote on her blog. "Not sure I ever will be, completely."

 

   
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