American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Appalachian Mountains: (2) Mt. Katahdin

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1949

Appalachian Mountains: (2) Mt. Katahdin. On 4 September 1948 Mary Rossbach (25-30) was climbing with her husband on Mt. Katahdin. They had climbed to Baxter Peak from the Chimney Pond Campground and had crossed the Knife Edge to Chimney Peak. In the descent of Chimney Peak, a simple scramble, Mrs. Rossbach fell into Chimney Notch. She had been in an insecure stance where she had only one foothold and practically no handholds. She was knocked unconscious and suffered a severe scalp laceration. Another climbing party was in the vicinity, and two of its members remained with the Rossbachs while the third went down to notify the Park Ranger.

Much confusion ensued, for the accident was reported as having occurred at the base of the Chimney. Finding no signs of trouble there, the Ranger realized that the accident had been somewhere up on the mountain. The party was finally located in Chimney Notch at dusk. Mrs. Rossbach had regained consciousness, but was dazed. She was made comfortable, and supplies were brought up that night. In the morning she was assisted down the Dudley Trail, and arrived at the campground that night.

Sources of information: Appalachia, XXVII (December 1948), 240-41; and letter from H. J. Dyer, Supervisor of Baxter State Park.

Analysis. Reports indicate that Mrs. Rossbach’s climbing experience had been extremely limited, even for “a simple scramble.” Also, she has been described as a “large, heavy woman” and in poor physical condition. It would seem, therefore, that fatigue was a significant factor, and that the mountain had been underestimated and the climber’s abilities overestimated.

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