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Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III



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.)