American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002



1951-00

1959-00

2001

2001





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Terrain



Rock

3844

466

110

8



Snow

2199

330

31

5



Ice

211

118

11

9



River

13

3

0

0



Unknown

22

8

0

0



Ascent or Descent



Ascent

2438

501

115

15



Descent

2080

342

32

5



Unknown

247

5

0

2



OtherN.B.

0

0

5

0



Immediate Cause



Fall or slip on rock

2678

253

90

3



Slip on snow or ice

874

178

17

6



Falling rock, ice, or object

537

122

18

3



Exceeding abilities

467

28

14

1



Avalanche

268

114

1

3



Exposure

243

13

2

0



Illness1

315

22

13

1



Stranded

288

40

8

2



Rappel Failure/Error2

237

41

9

2



Loss of control/glissade

182

16

1

0



Fall into crevasse/moat

145

44

3

2



Failure to follow route

142

28

9

1



Nut/chock pulled out

138

4

15

1



Piton/ice screw pulled out

87

12

0

0



Faulty use of crampons

78

5

4

0



Lightning

42

7

1

0



Skiing3

50

9

0

0



Ascending too fast

47

0

13

0



Equipment failure

11

2

1

0



Other4

301

32

13

0



Unknown

60

8

1

0



Contributory Causes



Climbing unroped

934

155

7

2



Exceeding abilities

860

196

5

1



Inadequate equipment/clothing

586

75

21

3



Placed no/inadequate protection

570

84

30

2



Weather

409

58

11

2



Climbing alone

345

61

6

2



No hard hat

276

28

9

0



Nut/chock pulled out

194

17

2

0



Inadequate belay

152

24

15

1



Darkness

128

19

3

0



Poor position

135

18

0

2



Party separated

105

10

3

0



Piton/ice screw pulled out

85

11

0

1





1951-00

1959-00

2001

2001





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Contributory Causes, cont.



Failure to test holds

81

22

6

2



Exposure

56

13

0

0



Failed to follow directions

69

11

0

0



Illness1

37

6

0

2



Equipment failure

11

7

0

0



Other4

243

91

1

5



Age of Individuals



Under 15

118

12

3

0



15-20

1193

201

14

0



21-25

1225

238

42

0



26-30

1115

200

22

1



31-35

761

107

16

0



36-50

981

131

29

0



Over 50

162

23

9

1



Unknown

1043

629

45

45



Experience Level



None/Little

1593

292

22

0



Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1401

347

24

7



Experienced

1551

393

51

17



Unknown

1710

449

83

23



Month of Year



January

196

18

2

2



February

186

43

2

2



March

261

56

10

3



April

361

32

11

0



May

782

51

19

1



June

941

61

15

0



July

985

231

28

3



August

931

159

26

5



September

1098

61

15

4



October

373

30

14

1



November

169

11

3

0



December

81

21

2

1



Unknown

12

1

5

0



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984)



Fracture

938

178

5

6



Laceration

505

63

3

2



Abrasion

250

68

24

3



Bruise

323

69

33

2



Sprain/strain

223

24

26

3



Concussion

174

21

7

1



Hypothermia

129

14

5

0



Frostbite

95

9

4

0



Dislocation

90

10

1

1



Puncture

33

9

4

2





1951-00

1959-00

2001

2001





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984), cont.



Acute Mountain Sickness

27

0

9

0



HAPE

56

0

6

0



HACE

19

0

1

0



Other5

222

36

18

1



None

165

76

0

0



N.B. Some accidents happen when climbers are at the top or bottom of a route, not climbing. They may be setting up a belay or rappel or are just not anchored when they fall.

These illnesses, which led directly or indirectly to the accident, included: HAPE (3), HACE, internal bleeding—previous history of G.I. bleeds, exhaustion—unfit and dehydrated, frostbite—inadequate footwear, stranded because of twisted knee—strained ACL, heart attack (one U.S., one Canada), transient ischemic attack (TIA).

2This includes rappelling off the end of the rope, anchor(s) inadequate, lowering a climber (from above or below).

3This category was set up originally for ski mountaineering. Backcountry touring or snowshoeing incidents—even if one gets avalanched—are not included in the data

4These included: inadequate instruction (3), caught ski tip on descent—heavy pack, failure to descend at first signs of AMS (4), foothold/handhold broke off (7), miscom- munication, dislodged rock which then broke rope, party dislodged rock and did not warn party below, inattention (2), guide book error, lost equipment.

5These included: rope burns on hands from rappelling or belaying improperly (3), internal bleeding (3), pneumothorax (2), hemothorax (2), strained ACL, pulmonary contusion, blindness caused by head injury from rock hitting forehead, ruptured Achilles tendon, collapsed lung, burns from lightning.

(Editor’s Note: Under the category “other, ” many of the particular items will have been recorded under a general category. For example, the climber who dislodges a rock that falls on another climber would be coded as Falling Rock/Object, or the climber who has a hand hold come loose and falls would also be coded as Fall On Rock.)

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