Grace Hudowalski


Grace Hudowalski and company climbing South Dix. c. 1930. Image used with permission.

Grace Hudowalski made history in 1937 when she became the ninth person—and first woman—to summit all 46 Adirondack high peaks. While she grew up in the foothills of the Adirondacks in Ticonderoga, it wasn’t until high school when she made her first ascent of one of the peaks—Mt. Marcy. At the time, she was living with her sister in Troy, New York, where she met her future husband and hiking partner Ed Hudowalski. Ed was one of the founding members of the Forty-Sixers of Troy, the precursor to the Adirondack Forty-Sixers hiking club. Initially, Grace said she had no intention of climbing the 46: “When Ed was chalking up the 46 back in the 30s, I only went along for the climb, not the score. 1

Climbing the 46, however, was only the beginning of Grace’s lifelong dedication to the Adirondack mountains. Grace began to record the climbs of the members of the Forty-Sixers of Troy, and encouraged members to write of their experiences climbing the 46. Grace organized the first meeting of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers in 1948, and she continued the tradition of reporting climbs as the club’s historian. In fact, for over 60 years she “encouraged letter-writing and wrote thousands of replies” to hikers submitting trip reports. Grace felt strongly that “It’s important for hikers to write about what they saw and felt as they climbed and to share that experience with others,” and she adamantly believed that “Any mountain worth climbing is worth talking about.” Besides serving as the club’s historian, she was also its first president until 1951. According to many Forty-Sixers, “Grace was the guiding spirit and the very embodiment of the Forty-Sixer experience.” Around this time, Grace also began working as a publicity writer for the New York State Commerce Department, encouraging visitors to come and visit the Adirondacks, and moved with her husband to the Adirondack town of Schroon Lake in 1954. 2

Grace continued to correspond with hikers into her 90s, and her “contributions to the Adirondacks have been repeatedly recognized.” Besides doing remarkable work to promote outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks and establish the region’s foremost hiking club, the fact that Grace was among the first women to do such work in the Adirondacks demonstrates that she “was clearly a pioneer. Not only did she hold a high-ranking position in state service but she also engaged in a hobby in which relatively few women participated at the time.” Grace cultivated a deep love of the Adirondacks among her community of hikers as well as other visitors, and especially encouraged other women to follow her (literal) footsteps, declaring that “Too many women stay indoors. It is good to get out of doors, to get lots of fresh air to bring color to your cheeks and zest to your step.” 3

Before her death in 2004, a group of 46ers began working to honor Grace by renaming one of her beloved peaks after her. They formed a committee and started a petition to the United States Board on Geographic Names to change the name of East Dix to Grace Peak. As one of the only peaks without its own meaningful name, East Dix had been left without a unique name for decades with the knowledge that, at the appropriate time, it could be named for the right person. The committee spent several years gathering letters of support from 46ers, community members, and local officials to prove to the Board that Grace was indeed that person. Doug Arnold, one of the leading members of this committee, proposed the idea to Grace before her passing. When he asked what she thought of the idea, she modestly replied, “Oh, that is a silly notion.” Arnold contested, “Well, there are about 5,000 Forty-Sixers who think it is not such a silly notion.” She then, keeping her humility, conceded, “Well, they are your mountains, too.” On June 12th, 2014, the committee’s work paid off and the Board officially approved the naming of Grace Peak. 4


Grace Peak patch. Image used with permission.


  1. Adirondack Forty-Sixers, Inc., Heaven Up-H’isted-Ness
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Arnold, “Grace Peak: A Personal Reflection.”