American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1998



1951-96

1959-96

1997

1997





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Terrain



Rock

3464

415

100

12



Snow

2038

303

43

9



Ice

182

87

7

13



River

13

3

0

0



Unknown

22

6

0

1



Ascent or Descent



Ascent

3060

439

100

19



Descent

1891

295

47

15



Unknown3

247

3

2

1



Immediate Cause



Fall or slip on rock

2392

222

72

9



Slip on snow or ice

774

154

33

11



Falling rock, ice or object

479

106

16

4



Exceeding abilities

399

27

19

0



Avalanche

253

106

3

1



Exposure

234

12

3

1



Illness1

269

20

10

1



Stranded

258

5

9

3



Rappel Failure/Error

196

35

12

3



Loss of control/glissade

166

15

2

1



Fall into crevasse/moat

129

41

3

0



Failure to follow route

121

25

5

2



Nut/chock pulled out

97

3

3

0



Piton pulled out

84

12

0

0



Faulty use of crampons

65

5

4

0



Lightning

39

6

0

1



Skiing

48

9

0

0



Ascending too fast

43

0

0

0



Equipment failure

7

2

0

0



Other2

181

23

21

1



Unknown

59

8

0

0



Contributory Causes



Climbing unroped

889

146

13

4



Exceeding abilities

828

167

8

8



Inadequate equipment/clothing

541

70

11

1



Placed no/inadequate protection

463

64

30

11



Weather

369

50

9

7



Climbing alone

316

54

9

3



No hard hat

227

23

16

1



Nut/chock pulled out

169

16

12

0



Darkness

114

18

4

1



Party separated

97

16

3

1



Piton pulled out

82

10

2

0





1951-96

1959-96

1997

1997





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Contributory Causes (cont.)



Poor position

107

13

4

2



Inadequate belay

107

18

7

2



Failure to test holds

66

18

1

0



Exposure

55

11

1

2



Failed to follow directions

60

5

4

0



Illness1

32

4

0

0



Equipment failure

9

4

0

2



Other2

227

79

7

0



Age of Individuals



Under 15

112

11

0

1



15-20

1142

196

19

1



21-25

1422

222

30

3



26-30

1023

187

28

2



31-35

669

95

15

1



36-50

824

105

24

3



Over 50

128

18

4

2



Unknown

888

466

52

111



Experience Level



None/Little

1471

280

31

0



Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1332

340

29

0



Experienced

1336

359

50

0



Unknown

1437

264

62

124



Month of Year



January

178

14

9

1



February

177

37

2

3



March

238

46

5

2



April

328

29

10

0



May

705

47

17

1



June

830

54

24

3



July

911

215

30

5



August

840

124

28

13



September

1048

48

11

1



October

335

29

9

1



November

152

5

3

5



December

61

17

1

0



Unknown

4

0

0

0



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984)



Fracture

691

132

68

14



Laceration

364

51

45

6



Abrasion

203

39

18

0



Bruise

224

57

33

2



Sprain/strain

178

20

11

1



Concussion

115

13

18

1



Frostbite

77

7

9

1



Hypothermia

97

11

8

1





1951-96

1959-96

1997

1997





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Type of Injury/Illness (cont.)



Dislocation

67

6

4

2



Puncture

27

4

0

1



Acute Mountain Sickness

17

0

4

1



HAPE

49

0

0

0



HACE

16

0

0

0



Other3

183

31

10

0



None

103

68

22

0



1These included: diabetes (1), AMS (4), HACE (1), hypothermia (2), fatigue (6), frostbite (7), shoulder dislocation (1).

2These included: unable to self-arrest (16), failure to turn back (2), route selected had extreme objective dangers (1), late start, carabiner broke, inattention (3), handhold came off (3), rock roof collapsed—unfamiliar with type of rock, wind gust knocked climber off summit, jumped crevasse—landed on ice, unable to free snow from crampons (2), mis- communication (2), inadequate food, homemade rivet hanger failed, jumars “failed”— came off rope.

Rappel errors included: rope ends uneven (2), rope entangled, ropes too short, forgot to untie safety knot in end of rappel rope—knot jammed in anchor ring.

3These included: pneumothorax (5), severe dehydration (3), punctured lung, collapsed lung, diabetes, rope burn on hand.

(Editor’s Note: Under the “other” category, many of the particular items will have been recorded under a general category. For example, the climber who fell into his unanchored partner knocking him off would be coded as Fall on Rock, Falling Rock/Object, and Placed Inadequate Protection. The point in this category is to provide the reader with some added detail. It should be apparent that many of these details can be translated into a few basic categories.)

N.B. Also please note that the data for Month of Year for March was reported incorrectly for 1996. It should be the number 2, not 82.

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