THE MOUNTAINS WILL WAIT FOR YOU
Celebrating the Adirondack 46ers 75th Anniversary (1948-2023)
Like so much of the culture, traditions and heritage associated with climbing the Adirondack 46 high peaks, how the movie The Mountains Will Wait For You came to be is unique.
Thirty years ago, Fredrick Schwoebel, a film industry professional living on the west coast, opened a letter from his mother-in-law and read a news clipping about gardening she had clipped from the Ventura Star Free Press. Fred had just moved from Nashville, TN with his wife Tara. He shared an interest in gardening with Tara’s mother, Vivian Distin. After reading the gardening tip, Fred casually flipped the page over and found an Associated Press article entitled Climbers scale peaks, write letters. A climber and lover of wild places himself, Fred was intrigued as he read about Grace Hudowalski, who lived on the east coast, the first woman and 9th person to scale the summits of the Adirondack 46 high peaks. In an instant, Fred’s interest was piqued.
As I read the article I began to learn about Grace and her unique connection to how aspiring 46er’s were encouraged to correspond with her while they were climbing. In that moment something stirred in me and I was compelled to contact her. Without delay, and out of character for me, I picked up the phone and called long distance information for Grace Hudowalski, in Albany, New York and got Grace’s phone number. I simply cold called Grace and introduced myself to her and told her that I had just read an AP article about her and that I wanted to meet her and possibly make a documentary film about her and the 46er’s. She told me that she thought that would be alright, so, never having been to the Adirondacks before, and with a great deal of excitement, I said that’s wonderful but since I don’t know the area at all can you recommend a nearby town to stay in? She said ‘Well, you can just stay here with me at The Boulders!’ Now, think about this, here she is an 87-year-old woman, living by herself in her camp on Schroon Lake, and she just opens her camp for me for 3 or 4 nights so I can come and meet her and so she can tell me who I might want to interview for the documentary.
As they say. . .the rest is history!
Sifting through 41 video recordings, more than 15 hours total, took two decades. Fred’s friends and family chipped in, including his father-in-law, the legendary Johnny Cash, who graciously agreed to narrate the film. The many hours of video was distilled into a 44-minute documentary, preserving Grace and other legendary 46ers, including Mary and Ditt Dimtmar, Ed “Ketch” Ketchledge and Jim Goodwin, for posterity. The movie premiered in 2013 to enthusiastic audiences on both the east and west coasts and was used to support the application to rename East Dix “Grace Peak” in Grace’s honor, an application that was granted by NYS and the US Board of Geographic Names in June of 2014—ten years after Grace’s death, the minimum waiting period required by law.
This past August, as we celebrated the Centennial of Grace’s first high peak ascent, Mount Marcy in 1922, Fred and Tara joined us in Elizabethtown for the inaugural People & Peaks event and offered a special screening of The Mountains Will Wait For You. Fred joined trustee L. John Van Norden on an anniversary climb of Marcy (Photo), enjoying some of the same raw weather Grace had experienced 100 years before. During that climb Fred agreed to donate the original 41 beta recordings generated in 1993, preserving his incredible archive of 46er history for posterity. The original recordings are now owned by the trust and the Adirondack History Museum as part of the Hudowalski collection.
In addition to donating the recordings, Fred and Tara donated a license to the Museum and Trust to use the recordings and the documentary for public education. As you peruse the Trust website you will have an opportunity to see portions of the recordings that didn’t make the final cut for the movie. The 41 recordings are a virtual treasure trove of Adirondack history. With heartfelt thanks to Fred and Tara, and in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Adirondack 46ers, you can watch the movie in its entirety without charge, experience Grace, and learn about the unique history and cultural heritage associated with climbing the 46 high peaks. While climbers can no longer write to Grace as we did for decades, her voice and spirit live on through Fred’s incredible gift. Grace is gone but her legacy will live forever through the traditions and spirit of those who climb the high peaks.