American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2010



1951–08

1959–04

2009

2009





USA

CAN

USA

CAN.



Terrain











Rock

4530

528

77





Snow

2367

355

41





Ice

270

15

8





River

15

3

0





Unknown

22

10

0





Ascent or Descent





Ascent

3589

587

79





Descent

1023

371

45





Unknown

250

13

1





OtherNB

7

0

2





Immediate Cause





Fall or slip on rock

3589

290

59





Slip on snow or ice

1023

207

27





Falling rock, ice, or object

626

137

10





Exceeding abilities

550

32

5





Illness1

400

26

9





Stranded

345

53

6





Avalanche

294

127

5





Rappel Failure/Error2

297

47

6





Exposure

275

14

3





Loss of control/glissade

211

17

4





Nut/chock pulled out

236

9

7





Failure to follow route

188

30

25





Fall into crevasse/moat

165

50

2





Faulty use of crampons

109

6

6





Piton/ice screw pulled out

95

13

0





Ascending too fast

66

0

1





Skiing3

56

11

2





Lightning

46

7

0





Equipment failure

15

3

1





Other4

491

37

31





Unknown

61

10

0





Contributory Causes





Climbing unroped

1013

165

8





Exceeding abilities

915

202

2





Placed no/inadequate protection

762

96

32





Inadequate equipment/clothing

690

70

11





Weather

479

67

2





Climbing alone

404

69

4





No hard hat

348

71

6







1951-08

1959-04

2009

2009





USA

CAN

USA

CAN



Contributory Causes





Inadequate belay

218

28

10





Nut/chock pulled out

201

32

0





Poor position

185

20

3





Darkness

146

21

4





Party separated

117

12

0





Failure to test holds

101

32

4





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

268

100

3





Age of Individuals





Under 15

1246

12

0





15-20

1281

203

7





21-25

1420

257

19





26-30

1303

211

24





31-35

1093

114

13





36-50

1267

143

40





Over 50

270

31

14





Unknown

2002

530

27





Experience Level





None/Little

1777

304

8





Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1635

354

15





Experienced

2039

440

60





Unknown

2083

559

55





Month of Year





January

235

25

6





February

210

55

3





March

315

68

6





April

410

39

11





May

938

62

19





June

1081

70

19





July

1154

254

20





August

1057

184

18





September

1184

75

7





October

466

42

8





November

199

20

4





December

100

24

5





Unknown

17

1

0







1951-08

1959-04

2009

2009





USA

CAN

USA

CAN



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984)





Fracture

1303

223

49





Laceration

720

71

17





Abrasion

348

76

13





Bruise

496

83

16





Sprain/strain

372

33

13





Concussion

257

28

9





Hypothermia

160

16

2





Frostbite

132

12

2





Dislocation

125

16

12





Puncture

45

13

7





Acute Mountain Sickness

45

0

0





RAPE

73

0

1





HACE

25

0

0





Other5

331

49

19





None

248

188

17





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.)

1These illnesses/injuries, which led directly or indirectly to the accident, include: minor foot injury from tight boots; chest pain (1 infection and 1 blocked artery); extreme fatigue and low O2 sat. level; lower leg injuries; hypothermia; heart attack; hand-burn (from belay rope); dehydration; dislocation/sprain/strain—so had to be lowered (3).

2These included: rope diameter too small for Grigri; rope too short; no knot in end of rope; gear sling caught on rock—strangling climber.

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: unable to self-arrest (8); failure to turn back (4); handhold/foothold came loose (4); ice came loose/gave away (2); ran out of food/water and no working stoves; misread snowpack; two bolt hangers “failed”; running rope through webbing—burned through; miscommunication (3); rappelling/lowering—rope too short (3), no knots in ends (3), rope diameter too small for Grigri; ice block came off (2); rappel rope stuck in crack; late start; fell on partner; dove on partner to stop fall; strangled in gear sling.

5These included: major chest pain (2); heart attack; extreme fatigue/low O2 sat.; dehydration; hand burned by belay rope.

(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.