Ranger Ralph W. Heath

Ranger Ralph W. Heath

Baxter State Park, Maine

End of Watch Tuesday, October 29, 1963

Ralph W. Heath

Ranger Ralph Heath died of exposure while attempting to rescue a woman on Mount Katahdin during a snowstorm.

On Monday, October 28th, 1963, two women climbed to Baxter Peak on Mount Katahdin, by way of the Cathedral Trail, arriving at the summit at 1:30 pm. After lunch, the two women started out across the Knife’s Edge and became separated. The two continued on their chosen routes and were in verbal contact until one relayed that she was stuck and could not go up or down.

The second woman descended to Chimney Pond campground by way of the Dudley Trail and alerted Ranger Heath of the situation. At approximately 11:00 pm the weather changed drastically with a storm that deposited two feet of snow over the next 24 hours.

Ranger Heath made two attempts to reach the stranded woman. The second attempt was made at 6:00 am on Tuesday, October 29th, 1963, from the base of the Knife’s Edge. He attempted to hike up to the woman from below her position. This was the last known action made by Ranger Heath. At some point, that day, Ranger Heath and the woman succumbed to the elements.

Ranger Heath's body was recovered on May 17th, 1964.

Bio

  • Age 37
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Exposure

search and rescue

Most Recent Reflection

View all 14 Reflections

To celebrate our graduation from Harvard Business School a group of us visited Baxter and hiked to Chimney Pond and Ralph Heath's bailiwick. He regaled us with stories, many of which involved night trips to the summit in search for tardy hikers. He took it all in stride and portrayed these efforts as just part of the job. The last picture I took on this trip is with my group and Ralph. How shocking it was to read the incident report in the AMC news. Ralph and Katahdin are always entwined in my memories of that summer.

Richard A MacKinnon

May 27, 2018

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