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Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

1951-02

1959-02

2003

2003





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Terrain











Rock

4053

490

88

13



Snow

2262

339

27

2



Ice

228

133

3

13



River

14

3

0

0



Unknown

22

8

0

1



Ascent or Descent











Ascent

2657

533

78

22



Descent

2112

347

40

5



Unknown

247

8

0

2



Other N.B.

6

0

0

0



Immediate Cause











Fall or slip on rock

2841

263

46

10



Slip on snow or ice

904

192

11

6



Falling rock, ice, or object

574

126

11

5



Exceeding abilities

489

29

11

0



Avalanche

275

118

1

2



Exposure

251

13

6

0



Illness 1

342

24

15

1



Stranded

305

47

5

2



Rappel Failure/Error2

252

44

14

0



Loss of control/glissade

184

16

1

0



Fall into crevasse/moat

152

46

0

2



Nut/chock pulled out

174

5

9

3



Failure to follow route

158

29

6

0



Piton/ice screw pulled out

87

12

0

0



Faulty use of crampons

83

5

4

0



Lightning

44

7

1

0



Skiing3

50

10

0

0



Ascending too fast

60

0

1

0



Equipment failure

13

3

0

0



Other4

332

33

26

1



Unknown

60

8

1

1



Contributory Causes











Climbing unroped

949

158

11

3



Exceeding abilities

871

199

6

0



Placed no/inadequate protection

625

92

21

2



Inadequate equipment/clothing

619

68

11

0



Weather

434

61

8

2



Climbing alone

362

64

8

3



No hard hat

296

28

8

0



Nut/chock pulled out

196

19

0

6





1951-01

1959-01

2002

2002





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Contributory Causes, cont.











Inadequate belay

171

25

10

2



Darkness

132

19

2

1



Poor position

147

20

4

0



Party separated

109

10

1

0



Piton/ice screw pulled out

85

12

1

1



Failure to test holds

88

26

1

2



Exposure

56

13

1

0



Failed to follow directions

70

11

1

0



Illness 1

39

9

0

0



Equipment failure

11

7

0

0



Other4

248

98

3

1



Age of Individuals











Under 15

122

12

1

0



15-20

1219

201

7

1



21-25

1283

240

21

6



26-30

1170

201

38

4



31-35

1000

108

11

2



36-50

1046

134

44

2



Over 50

181

24

10

3



Unknown

1867

494

33

10



Experience Level











None/Little

1635

294

41

0



Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1460

354

34

0



Experienced

1659

419

59

8



Unknown

1881

490

34

21



Month of Year











January

201

20

1

3



February

193

47

3

4



March

276

66

3

0



April

376

33

5

0



May

829

53

18

2



June

959

64

20

1



July

1037

240

24

4



August

971

171

16

6



September

1124

68

12

2



October

400

34

15

4



November

174

13

1

1



December

86

23

0

1



Unknown

17

1

0

0



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since I984)









Fracture

995

195

54

11



Laceration

602

67

22

4



Abrasion

288

74

11

1





1951-01

1959-01

2002

2002





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since I984), cont.







Bruise

377

76

29

1



Sprain/strain

269

27

12

2



Concussion

196

24

5

4



Hypothermia

138

15

6

0



Frostbite

106

9

6

0



Dislocation

95

12

4

3



Puncture

39

11

3

2



Acute Mountain Sickness

37

0

2

0



HAPE

63

0

2

0



HACE

21

0

2

0



Other5

258

43

16

0



None

176

179

8

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 created in 2001 to replace “unknown.”)

1These illnesses/injuries, which led directly or indirectly to the accident, included: dehydration and exhaustion (6), fatigue (1), HAPE, HACE (4), AMS (3), colitis, back strain.

2These include no back-up-knot—so rappelled off end of ropes, inadequate anchors, rope too short, improper use of descending device, improper technique (military “butterfly” rappel) by someone with 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: dislodged rocks (11); handhold broke off (3); frostbite (3); unable to self-arrest; late start, route crowded, party too large; lowered off end of top- roped belay; poor leadership, impatience; ankle sprain; knee—medial and lateral ligaments; party separated—inadequate wands for others to follow; partner inadvertently unclipped from protection on ledge.

5These included: dehydration and exhaustion (6), colitis, knee—medial and lateral ligaments, back strain, lightning burns (5), pneumothorax, and lacerated liver.

(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.

There was an accident in Alaska on the Devil’s Thumb, outside the village of Petersburg, but no details are known as to the cause, so it is reported as “unknown.” The two experienced climbers from Vancouver are presumed dead.)