American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Maine: (2) Appalachian Mountains, Mt. Katahdin

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1952

Maine: (2) Appalachian Mountains, Mt. Katahdin. On 28 July 1951 Marcia Doolittle, about 22 years old, of Schenectady, New York, fell forty feet from a point near the top of the Chimney. Miss Doolittle and her companion, David Chipman of Boston, Massachusetts, had left the usual route when above the chock-stones and continued up the right sidewall. The narrow ledge on which Miss Doolittle landed prevented a further fall of 200 feet.

Chipman called to persons in a party on Pamola, and asked them to come over and stay near Miss Doolittle, who was conscious but severely cut and suffering from shock and loss of blood. Chipman and some members of the party then descended to get help. The ensuing rescue operation required efforts of thirty men. Mrs. Robert Nixon, nurse at the Girl Scout Camp at Togue Ponds, also aided in the rescue. She worked throughout the night to reach Miss Doolittle, administer first aid, and to help carry her on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance at Roaring Brook.

Both Miss Doolittle and her companion were reported to be experienced climbers for their age. They had made three previous ascents of the Chimney. On this occasion, they carried no rope, and had not registered for the climb. As a result of this accident, those persons desiring to climb the Chimney are now required to report to the ranger in advance and to be checked out only with proper equipment.

Source of information: "Appalachia", December, 1951.

Analysis. The immediate cause of Miss Doolittle’s fall is not known. It is questionable, however, whether it is wise for anyone to attempt a variation of such apparent difficulty without the protection of a rope. A rope should be considered basic equipment for all climbs on solid rock which involve any difficulty. Since this party had not notified the local authorities of its destination further difficulty might have arisen after the accident had not another group been climbing nearby. The incident is a good example of the effort and trouble to which a considerable number of other persons can be put when aa serious accident occurs.

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