American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1980

TABLE III

Numbers Refer to Persons Directly Involved

1951-78 1959-78 1979 1979



USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Terrain











Rock 

1552

165

61

18



Snow

893

151

57

7



Ice

46

6

7

5



River

7

2

0

0



Unknown 

10

2

0

1



Ascent or Descent











Ascent

1224

166

65

14



Descent

1032

107

27

9



Unknown 

176

12

9

6



Immediate Cause











Fall or slip on rock

911

74

37

12



Slip on snow or ice

368

54

16

6



Falling rock or object

202

58

5

4



Avalanche

172

64

5

3



Exceed abilities 

168

12

7

2



Exposure and/or exhaustion

121

6

5

0



Stranded

112

14

7

0



Failure of rappel

101

5

7

2



Loss of control—voluntary glissade

82

7

4

0



Illness—including pulmonary edema/frostbite .

70

4

7

0



Failure of piton

62

9

0

1



Fall into crevasse

60

16

8

0



Lightning 

34

3

1

0



Faulty use of crampons

21

2

1

0



Failure to follow route

70

4

5

0



Skiing 

17

4

0

0



Failure of nut 

10

1

1

0



Prussik/ascending device failure

3

1

0

0



Heat prostration

3

1

1

0



Other1

17

5

3

0



Unknown 

28

3

0

0



Contributory Causes











Climbing unroped

541

56

5

3



Exceeding abilities

540

70

12

0



Inadequate equipment

261

26

7

2



Climbing alone 

170

16

5

1



Bad weather

142

7

13

1



Failure of piton

60

6

1

0



Darkness

65

5

3

0



STATISTICAL TABLES / 61 1951-78 1959-78 1979 1979



USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Party separated 

54

6

0

0



Exposure and/or exhaustion

25

2

3

0



Old rope

8

1

0

0



No hard hat

23

2

3

1



Failure to test holds

9

1

1

0



Placed no protection

27

0

5

3



Failure of nut 

18

1

2

0



Waist/harness failure 

1

1

1

0



Other1

15

0

7

0



Age of Individuals











Under 15 

86

10

1

0



15-20 . 

827

115

23

2



21-25 

675

69

32

13



26-30 

323

58

28

4



31-35 

173

19

5

1



36-50 

230

42

9

1



Over 50

10

2

6

1



Unknown 

279

65

11

6



Affiliation with Climbing Groups











Unaffiliated 

830

53

30

0



Affiliated 

817

150

22

6



Unknown 

833

62

48

7



Estimate of Experience











None or little

1044

94

12

0



Moderate 

634

78

19

6



Experienced 

460

91

47

15



Unknown 

390

55

37

7



Month of Year











January 

90

3

4

0



February 

101

17

1

3



March

136

21

7

0



April 

135

6

8

1



May 

235

17

8

1



June 

388

40

14

3



July 

465

101

25

9



August 

428

89

11

8



September

247

10

12

5



October

130

13

8

0



November

85

1

1

0



December 

18

3

1

0



1These include (a) cornice/snow bridge collapse (several cases), (b) inability to communicate with climbers because of language difference, (c) climber cut his own rope, (d) ran out of water, (e) rope cut on sharp edge (two cases), (f) three bouldering accidents, (g) fall while setting up top rope, and (h) knot improperly tied/failure.

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