Insight With Beth Ruyak

Hosted By Beth Ruyak

Insight creates conversation to build community, exploring issues and events that connect people in our region. Insight covers breaking news and big ideas, music, arts & culture with responsible journalism, civil discussion and diverse voices.


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Tuesday, July 30, 2019 Permalink

Rock Climbing Rock Stars

Photo from

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Humans have a fascination with many things: space exploration, going to the depths of the ocean and scaling the heights of the world’s mountains. In this “best of” edition of Insight, we have three stories all centering around Yosemite. It’s a place where the world’s great climbers gravitate, but amateur climbers and hikers enjoy it, too. We start with the fascination with Yosemite, then move to two well-known climbers, who are at two ends of the climbing lifespan (and who happen to be mother and son).

YosemiteLand: Climbing

Climbers Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell made history and headlines last summer when they completed a popular Yosemite climbing route in less than two hours. Yosemite has long been a popular destination for rock climbers who say it’s some of the best climbing on Earth. We’re revisiting an episode of CapRadio’s podcast, YosemiteLand, from summer 2018, to explore the sport’s popularity and history. Host Ezra David Romero introduces us to longtime climbers and examines how the sport became more mainstream. He also interviewed a younger generation of climbers — many of whom discovered their talents in rock gyms. Romero also stopped by one of those popular indoor rock climbing gyms in Sacramento.

Dierdre Wolownick: 'The Sharp End Of Life: A Mother’s Story'

Dierdre Wolownick is a mother and an author who proves that age is just a number. She took up climbing in her 50s and two years ago, she became the oldest woman to summit Yosemite’s El Capitan at age 66. You may have seen her in the Oscar-winning documentary "Free Solo," which is about her son, record-setting climber Alex Honnold. Earlier this year Insight host Beth Ruyak spoke with  Wolownick about her new memoir, “The Sharp End of Life: A Mother’s Story,” where she details navigating a lifetime of challenges.

Alex Honnold: 'Alone On The Wall'

Alex Honnold is Dierdre Wolownick’s son. He is arguably the world’s most prolific rock climber. Honnold has conquered some of the most dangerous climbs without using any equipment or support. His avid "free solo" style of awe-inspiring climbs has led to profiles in the New York Times, 60 Minutes and National Geographic, along with international acclaim from the climbing community. And, of course, there’s that hair raising, hand wringing, documentary "Free Solo." When Honnold came to CapRadio in 2016, the then 31-year-old said he didn’t relish the spotlight. He’s much happier living out of his van and taking on the next climbing adventure. He talked about his memoir, "Alone on the Wall," and about free solo climbing.  

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