American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006



1951-04

1959-04

2005

2005





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Terrain











Rock

4237

521

73

7



Snow

2235

346

33

7



Ice

249

158

5

0



River

14

3

0

0



Unknown

22

9

0

1



Ascent or Descent











Ascent

2853

578

61

9



Descent

2192

362

48

9



Unknown

248

12

2

1



OtherNB

7

0







Immediate Cause











Fall or slip on rock

2958

283

49

7



Slip on snow or ice

950

207

21

11



Falling rock, ice, or object

601

135

9

2



Exceeding abilities

525

30

10

2



Illness1

362

26

13

0



Stranded

323

52

6

1



Avalanche

278

125

6

2



Exposure

264

13

1

1



Rappel Failure/Error2

263

45

11

2



Loss of control/glissade

192

16

7

1



Nut/chock pulled out

191

9

5

0



Failure to follow route

171

29

5

1



Fall into crevasse/moat

153

50

0

0



Piton/ice screw pulled out

94

12

1

1



Faulty use of crampons

92

5

3

1



Lightning

46

7

0

0



Skiing3

51

11

2

0



Ascending too fast

64

0

1

0



Equipment failure

14

3

0

0



Other4

385

35

28

2



Unknown

61

9

0

1



Contributory Causes











Climbing unroped

979

163

8

2



Exceeding abilities

881

200

4

2



Placed no/inadequate protection

673

96

26

0



Inadequate equipment/clothing

651

68

13

2



Weather

452

64

10

3



Climbing alone

383

69

6

2



No hard hat

316

29

11

1





1951-04

1959-04

2005

2005





USA

CAN

USA

CAN



Contributory Causes (continued)











Nut/chock pulled out

196

32

3

0



Inadequate belay

190

28

7

0



Poor position

157

20

9

0



Darkness

136

20

4

1



Party separated

113

12

2

0



Failure to test holds

93

31

4

1



Piton/ice screw pulled out

86

13

0

0



Failed to follow directions

71

11

2

1



Exposure

57

13

2

3



Illness1

39

9

1

0



Equipment failure

11

7

0

0



Other4

256

100

0

0



Age of Individuals











Under 15

125

12

1

0



15–20

1235

203

8

0



21–25

1337

251

21

6



26–30

1235

208

22

3



31–35

1029

112

22

2



36–50

1148

138

29

5



Over 50

206

29

11

2



Unknown

1933

517

40

13



Experience Level











None/Little

1724

299

15

5



Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1544

354

31

0



Experienced

1797

433

58

7



Unknown

1958

535

25

24



Month of Year











January

209

25

9

0



February

198

55

4

0



March

292

68

7

0



April

389

38

8

1



May

865

57

17

5



June

1009

69

17

1



July

1085

250

24

4



August

1002

181

9

3



September

1147

74

8

1



October

435

38

4

4



November

180

16

4

4



December

93

24

0

0



Unknown

17

1

0

0



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984)









Fracture

1116

216

55

7



Laceration

657

71

13

0





1951-04

1959-04

2005

2005





USA

CAN

USA

CAN



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984) (continued)







Abrasion

309

76

12

0



Bruise

433

81

17

2



Sprain/strain

305

31

9

2



Concussion

214

28

10

0



Hypothermia

147

16

5

0



Frostbite

116

9

4

3



Dislocation

109

16

4

0



Puncture

43

13

0

0



Acute Mountain Sickness

40

0

2

0



HAPE

66

0

2

0



HACE

23

0

1

0



Other5

294

47

8

2



None

207

188

17

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. (This category created in 2001. We still have “Unknown” because of solo climbers.)

'These illnesses/injuries, which led directly or indirectly to the accident, included: exhaustion (9); dehydration; hypothermia; hypoxia; AMS; HAPE; HACE; frostbite; dislocation; fractured ankle; back strain—prior condition.

2These include: inadequate anchors (8); rappelled off the end of the rope (2); inattention by belayer when lowering.

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

4These include: unable to self-arrest (7); hand or foot hold broke off (5); pulled on stuck rope after rappel—lost balance and fell; miscommunication (4); late starts resulting in haste or darkness (3); failure to recognize signs and symptoms of AMS/HAPE; no spotter—bouldering (3); off route, rock dislodged by party above (2); slack in rope on glacier travel—crampons caught; misuse of Grigri; poor decision making—underestimated slope conditions and did not dig test snow pit.

5These included: dehydration and exhaustion (3); collapsed lung (2); tension pneumothorax (2); ruptured spleen; tooth—incisor split by falling rock.

(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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