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Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III



1951–01

1959–01

2002

2002





USA

CAN

USA

CAN



Terrain











Rock

3954

474

99

16



Snow

2230

335

32

4



Ice

222

127

6

9



River

13

3

1

0



Unknown

22

8

0

0



Ascent or Descent











Ascent

2553

516

104

17



Descent

2112

347

33

11



Unknown

247

7

0

1



OtherN.B.

5

0

1

0



Immediate Cause











Fall or slip on rock

2768

256

73

7



Slip on snow or ice

891

184

13

8



Falling rock, ice, or object

555

125

19

1



Exceeding abilities

481

29

8

0



Avalanche

269

117

6

1



Exposure

245

13

6

0



Illness1

328

23

14

1



Stranded

296

42

9

5



Rappel Failure/Error2

246

43

6

1



Loss of control/glissade

183

16

1

0



Fall into crevasse/moat

148

46

4

0



Nut/chock pulled out

153

5

21

0



Failure to follow route

151

29

7

0



Piton/ice screw pulled out

87

12

0

0



Faulty use of crampons

82

5

1

0



Lightning

43

7

1

0



Skiing3

50

9

0

1



Ascending too fast

60

0

0

0



Equipment failure

12

2

1

1



Other4

314

32

18

1



Unknown

60

8

0

0



Contributory Causes











Climbing unroped

941

157

8

1



Exceeding abilities

865

197

6

2



Inadequate equipment/clothing

607

68

12

2



Placed no/inadequate protection

600

86

25

6



Weather

420

60

14

1



Climbing alone

351

63

11

1



No hard hat

285

28

11

0





1951–01

1959–01

2002

2002





USA

CAN

USA

CAN



Contributory Causes, cont.











Nut/chock pulled out

196

17

0

2



Inadequate belay

167

25

4

0



Darkness

131

19

1

0



Poor position

135

20

12

0



Party separated

108

10

1

0



Piton/ice screw pulled out

84

12

1

0



Failure to test holds

87

24

1

2



Exposure

56

13

0

0



Failed to follow directions

69

11

1

0



Illness1

37

8

2

1



Equipment failure

11

7

0

0



Other4

244

96

4

2



Age of Individuals











Under 15

121

12

1

0



15–20

1207

201

12

0



21–25

1267

238

16

2



26–30

1137

201

33

0



31–35

777

107

23

1



36–50

1010

131

36

3



Over 50

171

24

10

0



Unknown

1793

472

74

22



Experience Level











None/Little

1615

292

20

2



Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1425

354

35

0



Experienced

1602

410

57

9



Unknown

1793

472

88

18



Month of Year











January

198

20

3

0



February

188

45

5

2



March

271

59

5

5



April

372

32

4

1



May

801

52

28

1



June

956

61

26

3



July

1013

236

24

4



August

957

164

14

7



September

1113

65

11

3



October

387

31

13

1



November

172

11

2

2



December

83

23

3

0



Unknown

17

1

0

0



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984)

Fracture

943

184

52

11



Laceration

568

65

34

2



Abrasion

274

71

14

3



Bruise

356

71

21

5



Sprain/strain

249

27

20

0



Concussion

181

22

15

2



Hypothermia

134

14

4

1



Frostbite

99

9

7

0



Dislocation

91

11

4

1



Puncture

37

11

2

0



Acute Mountain Sickness

36

0

1

0



HAPE

62

0

1

0



HACE

20

0

1

0



Other5

240

37

18

6



None

165

176

11

3



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. (This category was created in 2001 to replace “unknown.”)

1These illnesses/injuries, which led directly or indirectly to the accident, included: exhaustion (7), dehydration (4), fatigue (2), syncope, HAPE, HACE, pulmonary infection.

2These include an inadequate knot (2), rope too short (2), and improper use of descending device, and no experience.

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

4These include: stranded because of dropping climbing harness (on El Cap) and rope jammed, inadequate water and food, climbing above dislodged rock, failure to turn back, disregarding instincts, not familiar with equipment, helicopter lost power—dragged victim through trees, extreme winds, river crossing—lost control because pack too heavy, distracting illness, miscommunication, handholds broke loose (4), climbing too slowly, top rope—fall resulted in pendulum, rock hold came off and severed finger (2), hands slipped out of ice-tool leashes resulting in fall, hubris.

5These included: dehydration (11), exhaustion (5), severe rope burn on belay hand (2), syncope (from arrhythmia), pulmonary infection, torn cartilage, flail chest, hemothorax, pneumothorax, brain damage, and an amputation of an index finger and severing of a finger (both successfully reattached).

(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.)