Grace on the summit of Esther Mountain, August 26, 1937.

Grace, center, on the summit of Mt. Marcy.  August 1922.

Grace Leach Hudowalski was born in Ticonderoga, New York on February 25, 1906 and grew up in the surrounding foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Grace became the first woman, and the ninth person overall, to climb the 46 Adirondack High Peaks.  She made her first ascent of Mt. Marcy, the state’s highest summit, on August 2, 1922 and completed the 46 on Mt. Esther, at the time the only summit named for a woman, on August 26, 1937.  Together with her husband Ed (46er No. 6) and Rev. Ernest Ryder (46er No. 7), Grace ignited passion for mountain adventure in the youth of Grace Methodist Church, organizing the 46RS of Troy in 1937. She later was a founding member of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, helped organize the club’s first meeting on May 30, 1948, and served as the organization's first president.  For 60 years she served as 46er historian, maintaining individualized, personal correspondence with each of the thousands of climbers who reported their climbs of the High Peaks, a tradition Grace instituted and nurtured.  

Grace worked for the New York State Commerce Department from 1945 through 1961, first as a publicity writer and later as the state’s Travel Promotion Supervisor.  Grace traveled widely throughout the state, surrounding states and Canada promoting NY State tourism - often highlighting outdoor recreational opportunities in the Adirondack region, and spoke regularly on radio and television programs across the country.  In addition to the Adirondacks, Grace’s greatest professional passions were her love of NY State history and folklore.  She became recognized as an expert in both areas and was sought out by social and community organizations across the state to speak about regional history and folklore.

Grace was also involved in many other Adirondack regional organizations and groups.  For 21 years she served as executive secretary for the fledgling Adirondack Park Association (later renamed the Adirondack North Country Association - ANCA).  An active member of the Adirondack Mountain Club and its Albany Chapter, Grace served as contributing editor of High Spots and Adirondac as well as editor of Albany Chapter’s The Cloud Splitter.  Grace was a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and president of the NY State Folklore Society.

Grace’s singular contributions to the Adirondacks and NY State in both her personal and professional life culminated in her being honored by local, state and federal officials in June 2014 with the renaming of high peak East Dix to “Grace Peak”.  On June 14, 2014, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names officially approved a petition submitted by the Adirondack Forty-Sixers seeking the naming of that summit in her honor.  Grace Peak became the second of the 46 peaks named for a woman of New York State.