American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Table IV, Comparison of Injury Rates in Selected Sports, Rates are per 1000 Contact Periods

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1963

TABLE IV

Comparison of Injury Rates in Selected Sports Rates Are Per 1000 Contact Periods

Injury rates



Injury rates





Skiing (1)

5.90

Winter





Mountaineering



Ice Hockey

6.81



1955 Report

0.98

Track

1.76



1958-62 National Parks† 2.70

Basketball

1.31



College Sports (2)



Swimming

0.17



Fall



Spring





Football

4.83

Track

1.09



Soccer

8.69

Football

9.96



Cross Country

0.45

Baseball

2.08







Lacrosse

2.06







Rugby

1.82







Crew

0.29



† Value from Table II corrected for an estimated number of days exposed on Mt. McKinley.

The rates for various college sports were obtained from Thorndike (2) at Harvard College. The rates are based on a contact period or an afternoon of sport. Thus to make these results more comparable to either skiing or mountaineering, they could be doubled. Even without this correction, injury rates in mountaineering are comparable to or less than those reported from other sports.

Mortality data are more difficult to obtain. Mythology records the death of a spectator at a trackmeet due to a head injury from a discus. More recent reports have recorded deaths due to impalement by a javelin

or by falling on a broken vaulting pole. Newspaper reports in the past two years have shown concern about the number of deaths that have occurred during football. Boxing is another sport in which serious injuries have been sustained by the competitors, and death has resulted. In all sports there is an element of risk. It is the purpose of this report to call attention to the areas of risk in mountaineering, and to provide information so that this risk can be minimized, and so that climbing in the mountains can be done safely. Hopefully this will engender a humble respect for the mountains.

There have been accidents in the past in which failure of hardware has appeared to be a factor. Because of this and to improve service rendered by the AAC to the mountaineering community, an equipment testing program has been initiated. Dr. George Austin has accepted the responsibility of organizing this program. Considerable data of previous studies has been compiled. It is planned to maintain this program on a regular basis and to test items such as pitons, bolts, and carabiners that are offered for sale. The results of such tests will be published as a part of the Safety Report. Persons who have or know of pertinent data should forward the information to Dr. Austin, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Oregon Medical School, Portland, Oregon.

Skiing Injuries, Epidemiologic Study, Haddon, W., Ellison, A. C., and Carroll, R. E. Public Health Reports, 77, 975-985, 1962.

A. Thorndike, Athletic Injuries, 2nd Ed., Table 4, Page 53, Lea & Febiger, 1942.

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