American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009



1951-07

1959-05

2008

2008





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Terrain











Rock

4453

528

77





Snow

2336

355

31





Ice

267

15

3





River

14

3

1





Unknown

22

10

0





Ascent or Descent











Ascent

2994

587

82





Descent

2273

371

29





Unknown

249

13

1





OtherN.B.

7

0

0





Immediate Cause











Fall or slip on rock

3522

290

67





Slip on snow or ice

1010

207

13





Falling rock, ice, or object

623

137

3





Exceeding abilities

547

32

3





Illness1

391

26

9





Stranded

339

53

6





Avalanche

289

127

5





Rappel Failure/Error2

291

47

6





Exposure

272

14

3





Loss of control/glissade

207

17

4





Nut/chock pulled out

220

9

16





Failure to follow route

186

30

2





Fall into crevasse/moat

163

50

2





Faulty use of crampons

107

6

2





Piton/ice screw pulled out

95

13

0





Ascending too fast

66

0

0





Skiing3

56

11

0





Lightning

46

7

0





Equipment failure

15

3

0





Other4

466

37

25





Unknown

61

10

0





Contributory Causes











Climbing unroped

1007

165

6





Exceeding abilities

905

202

10





Placed no/inadequate protection

736

96

26





Inadequate equipment/clothing

683

70

7





Weather

471

67

8





Climbing alone

397

69

7





No hard hat

343

71

5





Contributory Causes (continued)

1951-07

USA

1959-05

CAN

2008

USA

2008

CAN



Inadequate belay

209

28

9





Nut/chock pulled out

200

32

1





Poor position

177

20

8





Darkness

141

21

5





Party separated

117

12

0





Failure to test holds

101

32

0





Piton/ice screw pulled out

86

13

0





Failed to follow directions

73

12

0





Exposure

64

16

0





Illness 1

40

9

0





Equipment failure

11

7

0





Other4

264

100

4





Age of Individuals











Under 15

1245

12

1





15-20

1271

203

10





21-25

1407

257

13





26-30

1288

211

15





31-35

1080

114

13





36-50

1237

143

30





Over 50

247

31

23





Unknown

1977

530

25





Experience Level











None/Little

1768

304

9





Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1619

354

16





Experienced

1974

440

65





Unknown

2045

559

38





Month of Year











January

229

25

7





February

210

55

0





March

307

68

8





April

407

39

3





May

918

62

20





June

1060

70

21





July

1134

254

20





August

1046

184

11





September

1179

75

5





October

454

42

12





November

194

20

5





December

100

24

0





Unknown

17

1

0







1951-07

USA

1959-05

CAN

2008

USA

2008

CAN



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984)



Fracture

1259

223

44





Laceration

703

71

17





Abrasion

339

76

9





Bruise

479

83

27





Sprain/strain

350

33

22





Concussion

235

28

12





Hypothermia

156

16

4





Frostbite

125

12

7





Dislocation

125

16

0





Puncture

45

13

0





Acute Mountain Sickness

44

0

1





HAPE

72

0

1





HACE

25

0

0





Other5

323

49

8





None

239

188

9





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: AMS; HAPE and possible CO poisoning; frostbite (3); fatigue (6); collapsed and died on Denali (2) one on summit and another on descent; Raynaud’s disease.

2These include: rappelled off the end of the rope, uneven ropes, mistook 5m (1) and 20 m mark (1) mark for middle of rope; did not attach second rappel rope to anchor; used 8.2 mm rope w/figure-8; threaded lowering rope through nylon webbing sling; 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 included: automatically using same site w/out checking conditions (avalanche); failure to turn back—led to frostbite; rapid weather change; removing gloves in cold; unable to selfarrest (5); relied on old webbing for rappel anchor; knee stuck in crack (2); late start; improper use of ascenders (severed rope); fall in river on descent; inappropriate technique—including putting finger in bolt eye (3); miscommunication between climber and belayer; rope severed on jagged rocks; distraction—talking to others while setting up rappel; rappel rope stuck in crack; handhold dislodged—rock fell on climbing partner; inexperienced belayer; late start.

5These included: dehydration (2); subdural hematoma (hence ICP); rope burns to hands; pneumothorax (2).

(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.)

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.