She wanted to feel the fierce wind blowing through her hair, followed by an evening of stargazing and sleeping under a moonlit sky after conquering the massive 3,200-foot vertical granite wall.
She first achieved this feat 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 top or the view.
“Most elite climbers climb the path we’ve climbed, Fear lurks, takes four or five days, and we did it in 13 hours.” Wolownick told CNN. “But I still want it, I want to be up there and see what it’s like for myself. I want to sleep up there, to watch the sunset and sunrise, and I feel like I have to do it.”
Armed with the knowledge and tools needed to make it back to the granite monolith. Wolownick made her dream come true, scaling El Capitan in just six hours, just in time to witness the sunset on her birthday.
“It’s such a great place to be at the top, I could write a whole book about how it feels,” Wolownick said. “I’m just blown away by how powerful it feels. There’s nothing like it.”
After reaching the summit just in time for sunset, Wolownick and her friends drank champagne and shared a birthday cake while enjoying the breathtaking view.
“I didn’t start climbing 10 years ago to be the oldest woman to the top, I did it to get closer to my son,” Wolownick said. “I climbed El Cap for me, because I wanted to experience it all.”
“Freedom alone” is the voice of the climber without ropes, without safety equipment. Free solo climbing is a high stakes game. It is death or perfection.
Iconic with its nearly vertical cliffs, Yosemite’s El Capitan was said to be unclimbed until 1957, when American mountaineering pioneer Warren Harding and two assistants made it to the top. But they don’t just use their hands.