American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2008



1951-06

USA

1959-04

CAN.

2007

USA

2007

CAN.















Terrain



Rock

4378

528

75





Snow

2304

355

32





Ice

259

158

7





River

14

3

0





Unknown

22

10

0





Ascent or Descent



Ascent

2926

587

68





Descent

2227

371

46





Unknown

249

13

0





OtherNB-

7

0

0





Immediate Cause



Fall or slip on rock

3467

290

55





Slip on snow or ice

990

207

20





Falling rock, ice, or object

614

137

9





Exceeding abilities

540

32

7





Illness1

382

26

11





Stranded

335

53

4





Avalanche

286

127

3





Rappel Failure/Error2

284

47

7





Exposure

270

14

2





Loss of control/glissade

206

17

1





Nut/chock pulled out

206

9

14





Failure to follow route

179

30

7





Fall into crevasse/moat

159

50

4





Faulty use of crampons

102

6

5





Piton/ice screw pulled out

95

13

0





Ascending too fast

65

0

1





Skiing3

55

11

1





Lightning

46

7

0





Equipment failure

15

3

0





Other4

438

37

28





Unknown

61

10

0





Contributory Causes



Climbing unroped

1004

165

3





Exceeding abilities

895

202

10





Placed no/inadequate protection

714

96

22





Inadequate equipment/clothing

672

70

11





Weather

467

67

4





Climbing alone

394

69

3





No hard hat

337

71

6







1951-06

USA

1959-04

CAN

2007

USA

2007

CAN















Contributory Causes (continued)



Inadequate belay

202

28

7





Nut/chock pulled out

199

32

1





Poor position

168

20

9





Darkness

141

21

5





Party separated

117

12

2





Failure to test holds

100

32

1





Piton/ice screw pulled out

86

13

0





Failed to follow directions

73

12

0





Exposure

64

16

0





Illness1

40

9

0





Equipment failure

11

7

0





Other4

260

100

4





Age of Individuals



Under 15

1243

12

2





15-20

12 66

203

5





21-25

1388

257

19





26-30

1273

211

15





31-35

1063

114

17





36-50

1207

143

30





Over 50

226

31

21





Unknown

1959

530

18





Experience Level



None/Little

1759

304

9





Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1595

354

24





Experienced

1902

440

72





Unknown

2025

559

20





Month of Year



January

224

25

5





February

206

55

4





March

303

68

4





April

401

39

6





May

900

62

18





June

1044

70

16





July

1121

254

13





August

1027

184

19





September

1165

75

14





October

448

42

6





November

188

20

6





December

97

24

3





Unknown

17

1

0





Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984)



Fracture

1219

223

40







1951-06

USA

1959-04

CAN

2007

USA

2007

CAN















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



Laceration

685 71

18





Abrasion

330

76

9





Bruise

462

83

15





Sprain/strain

331

33

19





Concussion

225

28

10





Hypothermia

154

16

2





Frostbite

125

12

0





Dislocation

117

16

8





Puncture

44

13

1





Acute Mountain Sickness

43

0

1





HAPE

71

0

1





HACE

25

0

0





Other5

315

49

8





None

225

188

14





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. The category unknown is primarily because of solo climbers.)

'These illnesses/injuries, which led directly or indirectly to the accident, include fatigue (3), snow blindness (2), hypothermia, dislocated shoulder reaching for a hold (2), and AMS.

2These include rappelled off the end of the rope, uneven ropes, mistook 5m mark for middle of rope, attached climbing rope to gear loop on harness, and lowering errors (5).

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 failure to disclose medical Hx to guide (2), failed to wear eye protection (2), overconfidence, became ill because he was “psyched by the big wall”, jumped into a crevasse while wearing crampons, injured while doing a pendulum, ice ax on pack instead of in hand (3), unable to self-arrest, climber fell because he dislodged a rock, lost (on descent from Camp Muir), failure to follow instincts, inadequate supervision, poor communication, and rock thrown from ridge deliberately.

5These included snow blindness (2); seizures; atrial fibrillation; tension pneumothorax (2); bruised lung; early stage exhaustion, fatigue and hypothermia; teeth knocked out, severed artery, vein, and ligament; crushed his fingers when he dislodged a 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. A climber who has a hand or foot-hold come loose and falls would be coded as Fall On Rock and Other - and most often includes Failure To Test Holds.)

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