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Accidents in Mexico

(d) ACCIDENTS IN MEXICO

The Club de Exploraciones de Mexico reports that since 1935 there have been about 100 deaths due to various types of accidents on the great volcanoes and mountain crags of Mexico. At least 30 of these have been on the volcanoes themselves, but only seven have occurred to members of the Club de Exploraciones, and only one of these was on a regular club trip. During 1949 there was an unusually large number of fatalities -- 19 in all - including one on Orizaba, three on Popocatépetl, four on Ixtaccihuátl and three on local rock climbs. Apparently the only way that these accidents will be minimized is through public education.

The most tragic phase of the recent surge of mountain accidents in Mexico has resulted not so much from volcano climbing as from rock climbing by poorly indoctrinated persons on the crags of Pachuca, Tepotzotlan, Salagar and elsewhere. In the last ten years, at least 70 deaths have been due to this activity among inexperienced persons, none of whom were members of the Club de Exploraciones. It is reported that some of the deaths on the Pachuca Crag have occurred while climbers were under the influence of alcohol. It is known that some have made the climb only to celebrate it with a bottle and, as a result, have been killed on the descent. Most of the deaths, about 20, have been on a crag called “la Muela.”

In all of Mexico there are about 12,000 persons actively interested in mountain climbing. It appears that these climbers are very individualistic: they have formed a great number of clubs. There are in Mexico City about 60 different clubs which dedicate themselves to rock climbing such as is found on the Pachuca. In every one of these there has been at least one death. It would appear that there is much need for the dissemination of information on safe climbing. This need becomes even more apparent when one considers the loose nature of the rock on most of the Mexican peaks.