On Thursday, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted to rename the 4,012-foot peak after Grace Hudowalski, the first woman to climb all forty-six of the High Peaks and the longtime historian of the Forty-Sixers organization.
Doug Arnold, chairman of the group’s Grace Peak Committee, worked twelve years to get support from local and state officials for the name change.
“Mountain naming is not a frivolous thing,” he said. “Ultimately, she was proven worthy, and I think that is a testament to the Forty-Sixers.”
Grace Hudowalski, who was born in 1906, climbed all of the High Peaks between 1922 and 1937, making her the ninth person to complete the round. In later years, as the Forty-Sixers historian, she corresponded with countless others who aspired to climb the peaks, encouraging them not to give up. There are now nearly nine thousand people (and a few dogs) who have hiked the Forty-Six.
Arnold said a movie about Hudowalski, The Mountains Will Wait for You, which was released last year, helped persuade officials to back the name change. The film is narrated by Johnny Cash. Hudowalski was interviewed for the movie in the 1990s. She died in 2004.
The Forty-Sixers have also proposed renaming South Dix as Carson Peak, after Russell M.L. Carson, the author of Peaks and People of the Adirondacks, a history of the High Peaks.
Arnold said he doesn’t plan to pursue the Carson Peak campaign right away.
“We’re going to wait a while,” he said. “We’re going to celebrate Grace Peak and take a deep breath.”
Photo of Grace Hudowalski courtesy of Adirondack Forty-Sixers.