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Mount Monadnock Ranger Kenneth Holmes

January 17 2004 at 7:19 PM
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Response to 2004 Obituaries

Kenneth Holmes’ life ended in the New Hampshire mountains he knew well but ultimately could not conquer.
The 37-year-old father of five, who taught his children a love and appreciation of the outdoors, and New Hampshire state park worker who spent time rescuing other hikers, died after spending several days camping in the White Mountains.
His body was found Thursday in the White Mountains near Franconia Notch, deep in the woods surrounded by some of the region’s toughest terrain. Holmes was located in a highly exposed area not far from his loaded backpack in an area where several peaks tower above 4,000 feet.
Although he was well-equipped with gear - including a tent and portable cooking stove - Holmes encountered arctic air that approached 44 below zero and a wind chill that plunged the temps toward minus 100.
Sometimes even with the best gear, "it’s not always going to cut it," said Lt. Robert Bryant of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Still, those who knew the Athol, Mass., resident - a ranger at Mount Monadnock State Park in southern New Hampshire - said they weren’t surprised that Holmes decided to brave the elements.
"For people who go out in these extreme conditions, there’s a drive that’s very difficult to understand," said Don Davis, a regional supervisor for New Hampshire’s Division of Parks and Recreation who knew Holmes. "It compels them to move on and go out into the elements. It’s part of their lifestyle."
Fish and game officials said Holmes was last heard from Tuesday night, when he called a friend from his cell phone and said he was camping near the summit of Mt. Bond in the Pemigewasset wilderness. The friend helped Holmes figure out two routes down from the mountain, and didn’t think Holmes was in trouble, authorities said.
Since he was hired last year to work at the 3,165-foot Mount Monadnock, Holmes was always up for whatever the job had in store: collecting money from campers, rescuing lost hikers or patrolling one of the world’s most-climbed mountains.
"His time working at the park wasn’t just a job to bring in money," Davis said. "It was part of him. It was an extension of himself. He was a mountaineer, and this is what he wanted to be."

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