Mother of famed climber summits El Capitan to celebrate turning 70

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Sacramento, California — The view from the face of Yosemite's El Capitan is something few people get to experience. For Dierdre Wolownick, it was the gift she gave herself for her 70th birthday. 

Wolownick, who didn't even start climbing until she was nearly 60, recently broke the record as the oldest woman to summit El Capitan. 

“It was quite the day,” she said. “I've reinvented myself many times.” 

Always an intellectual, she said she's never been athletic. But she wanted to find a new way to connect with her son, Alex Honnold, one of the world's most famous climbers. 

“That's his entire life,” she said of Honnold, who was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary, “Free Solo.” 

“It's a foreign language and I'm a foreign language teacher,” she said of how she approached rock climbing. “Anything that you can dream of that you want to do, you can do it, just one baby step at a time.” 

Honnold said his mother isn't the fastest or strongest, but “she is willing to stick with it for a long, long time and just keep grinding.”

“I think she's a perfect example of getting inspired by something, getting passionate about something and discovering it in middle age,” he said. 

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