All my life, I’ve wondered what it would be like to attend a movie première, red carpet and all. Now I know.

“Free Solo,” the film from National Geographic about my son’s ropeless climb of El Capitan, premiered this September, and came out in movie theaters this October. I attended the premières in New York City, Yosemite and Los Angeles. 

First surprise: big poster of my son

at the Lincoln Center elevator:


There really was a red carpet, too — at least in NY and in LA. I’d alway thought that was a cliché.



And photographers! Every time I turned around, it seemed I was bumping into one. Lights, cases, wires everywhere. And people whose faces and names grace all the climbing magazines, extreme sports mag’s, and videos.




The Lincoln Center venue at Columbus Circle overlooks Central Park, and once the sun went down, the view sparkled!

But as overwhelming as it was visually, the most impressive thing, for me, was the thought that all this fuss was about my son. My baby. I remember being embarrassed and annoyed when my mother used to refer to me that way: her baby. At 5’10”, I was hardly a baby! Nor is Alex. But now I get it. They’re always your babies, no matter how old they are, how big, how famous.

My ‘baby’ has done something that most people can’t even wrap their minds around, can’t watch without fidgeting and covering their eyes. His big sister goes on cycling adventures that make people gasp, and changes people’s lives every day, at work. My ‘babies.’

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of a movie première — and that you’ll have a chance to go experience the movie.



Thank You, Veterans

Today’s the day to thank a Veteran. They go places we wouldn’t go, and do things that we would never want to do — and they do it for us. You and me. We benefit from their work, their hardships, and sometimes, their loss. My father, a Veteran of WWII and the first in his family born in the U.S., loved his country deeply and had only one wish for Veterans and all of us: to see war made illegal.

With that fervent wish in mind, I thank all of you Veterans out there, and I hope the need for your service soon becomes obsolete.

Thank you.

Anniversary, Vertical Style (or: Once a teacher, always…)

One year ago, I became the oldest woman to scale El Capitan, the 3,200-foot granite wall in Yosemite National Park. My son led me up, and down, in 19 hours. Most climbers take 3 or 4 days.

There are over a hundred climbing routes up El Cap. The one we did is called Lurking Fear, and we did it, appropriately, on Halloween day. So this year, on Halloween, a couple friends and I went up the Heart lines on El Cap to celebrate.


See the Heart? It’s a huge, intaglio-style sort-of-heart-shaped feature on the west side of El Capitan. The bottom point of the heart is about 1,000 feet up. That’s where I celebrated my anniversary. The views don’t get much better!

But even more fun than my celebration was being a teacher again! I went up with 2 friends, Hannah and Tara. Hannah’s a new climber and had never been higher than about 40 or so feet. So teaching her how to use jumars and all the accruing gear, and how to work them higher and higher on the wall, reminded me again how much I love teaching. A couple of years ago, I retired from a 44-year teaching career, but I’ll always be a teacher at heart. Or, like this time, at The Heart.

One pitch above the Heart, the Mammoth Ledges offer even better views of most of Yosemite Valley. I savored it as long as I could, leaving only when we would be sure to have enough hours of daylight to get down and hike back out to the car.

That day last year was life-changing, an indelible memory I’ll always cherish and be grateful to Alex for. This year’s climb was just plain fun. Hannah had a great time learning all the new skills and inching her way up the wall:

and Tara had a blast refreshing her jugging skills and just relishing the incredible vistas:









Do you have a special place or way to celebrate your anniversaries or special days? How about sharing it with us here?

p.s. You can read about last year’s unforgettable climb with my son in my book here.