Esther Combs

Esther Combs

Etching of Esther by Ryland Loos

          The facts of the life of Esther Combs (1839) remain a mystery. Perhaps she is only a legend. The story goes that she was a 15-year-old farm girl who wanted to climb Whiteface Mountain. Her parents told her that girls shouldn’t climb mountains; they should cook and clean and sew. Esther refused to listen. One day she gathered her courage and set out through the woods to climb Whiteface by herself.

          As she walked, she became disoriented. When she finally reached the top of the mountain, she turned and saw Whiteface to the west. She had climbed the wrong mountain. She tried to go to Whiteface but the way was too difficult. Darkness set in and Esther spent the night alone in the woods.

          In the morning, Esther found her way home and her family was glad to see her. They remarked at her bravery. Her mother jokingly suggested that the mountain be called Esther in honor of the young girl’s feat. And so it was.

          Ever since that day, the peak has been called Esther Mountain. It is the only Adirondack high peak named for a woman. 

**After this exhibit was displayed, East Dix was renamed Grace Peak in 2014 for Grace Hudowalski


By Sandra Weber and Peggy Lynn

Esther grew up close to Whiteface Mountain
Thought she heard it calling her name
Her family told her, “Ladies don’t go climbing”
Esther thought she’d try it just the same

One morning just before the dawn was breaking
Esther loaded up her brother’s pack
She left behind her petticoats and ribbons
Esther wouldn’t let them hold her back

Sometimes you have to climb a mountain
Sometimes you have to wade a stream
When the path you follow disappears among the trees
Be brave and follow your dream

By mid-morning she was tired and hungry
Still she climbed beside a rocky creek
By evening she fell down amid the hobble bush
Not far from another mountain’s peak

Her family found her early the next morning
Shivering cold but glad to be alive
They named the peak she conquered Esther Mountain
For the young girl who was lost but still survived


If you dare to set out on a mountain
And find you’ve somehow gone astray
Though you miss your final destination
Look at what you’ve learned along the way

You took one step then followed with another
Found the inner courage to go on
You reached new heights and felt your heart’s direction
Now you finally see yourself as strong


--- 1994 by Peggy Lynn/BMI

Esther Combs

Left: Esther Mountain, Photo by Ed Ketchledge. Right: Esther "McComb" Mountain plaque, Photo by John Gillam.

The plaque was affixed to the summit by the 46ers of Troy in 1939, it was later discovered that Esther's last name was "Combs", not "McComb".

Esther Combs