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Dierdre Wolownick-Honnold - Redefining Retirement, Overcoming Fear and Ageism.

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Dierdre grew up in New York City in the 1940s and 50s and helped care for her mother who had polio. Going to high school opened her eyes to new possibilities, and she eventually moved to California after spending time in France and Japan. Dierdre's life took a big turn when she divorced her husband and started focusing on her own goals and dreams.

At 55, she began running, and has gone on to complete multiple marathons. At 59, she began rock climbing, and at 66, she became the oldest woman to climb Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan (with her son, Alex Honnold, of “Free Solo” fame).

In 2021, she celebrated her 70th birthday by climbing El Capitan again and camping on the summit.

At the end of 2023, the documentary about her life, “Climbing Into Life,” will be available to watch.

Climbing into Life is a feature-length documentary detailing the inspiring life story of Dierdre Wolownick-Honnold, the mother of Free Solo’s Alex Honnold.

This is the story of how she went from a completely consumed mother and professor, and ended up on the wall of El Capitan. From an unhappy wife and lonely mother to the status of athlete later in life, Dierdre confronts fear and ageism and gains a wonderful new community in the outdoors.

At age 71 Dierdre pushes back against the societal norms that assume her retirement years will be spent slowing down.


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Show notes

  • Who is Dierdre

  • Being a teacher and writer

  • Growing up in NYC after WW2 had ended

  • Being a city girl

  • Helping to care for her mother who had polio

  • Her responsibilities as the girl

  • How going to high school changed her life

  • Having her eyes opened to possibilities

  • Growing up in a Polish-American family

  • Not being able to rebel

  • Going to a catholic school

  • Getting out into the real world

  • Spending time in France and Japan

  • Moving to California

  • The beginning of the big change

  • Doing everything for everybody

  • Living in a non marriage

  • Teaching herself how to swim in her 40s

  • Her battle against fear

  • Being able to leave her marriage

  • Divorce being a dirty word

  • Taking up running in her 50s

  • Completing her first 1 mile run

  • Pushing herself to go further

  • Taking baby steps

  • Climbing with her son

  • Looking at El Cap and wondering if she could climb it

  • Jugging in climbing - have her feet on the rocks but not her hands

  • Needing to get specialist gear

  • Training and getting fit for the climb at 66

  • Going up and down El Cap in 1 day

  • Feeling exhausted and getting back in the dark

  • Celebrating her 70th Birthday climbing El Cap via the descent route

  • Planning a trip to Spain

  • Documentary - Climbing into Life - out at the end of 2023

  • How to connect with Dierdre

  • Final words of advice


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