American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2011



1951-09

1959-04

2010

2010





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Terrain











Rock

4607

528

128





Snow

2408

355

53





Ice

278

15

4





River

15

3

0





Unknown

22

10

0





Ascent or Descent











Ascent

3668

587

122





Descent

1068

371

55





Unknown

251

13

5





OtherN.B.

9

0

3





Immediate Cause











Fall or slip on rock

3648

290

97





Slip on snow or ice

1050

207

21





Falling rock, ice, or object

636

137

17





Exceeding abilities

555

32

2





Illness1

409

26

11





Stranded

351

53

17





Avalanche

299

127

5





Rappel Failure/Error2

303

47

12





Exposure

278

14

0





Loss of control/glissade

215

17

0





Nut/chock pulled out

243

9

11





Failure to follow route

213

30

6





Fall into crevasse/moat

167

50

2





Faulty use of crampons

115

6

0





Piton/ice screw pulled out

95

13

0





Ascending too fast

67

0

5





Skiing3

58

11

6





Lightning

46

7

1





Equipment failure

16

3

0





Other4

522

37

27





Unknown

61

10

0





Contributory Causes











Climbing unroped

1021

165

10





Exceeding abilities

917

202

38





Placed no/inadequate protection

794

96

19





Inadequate equipment/clothing

701

70

16





Weather

481

67

14





Climbing alone

408

69

12







1951-09

1959-04

2010

2010





USA

CAN

USA

CAN



No hard hat

354

71

5





Inadequate belay2

228

28

14





Nut/chock pulled out

201

32

8





Poor position

188

20

16





Darkness

150

21

15





Party separated

117

12

1





Failure to test holds

105

32

0





Piton/ice screw pulled out

86

13

0





Failed to follow directions

73

12

0





Exposure

64

16

1





Illness1

40

9

0





Equipment failure

11

7

0





Other4

271

100

10





Age of Individuals











Under 15

1246

12

0





15-20

1288

203

6





21-25

1439

257

35





26-30

1327

211

41





31-35

2006

114

26





36-50

1307

143

43





Over 50

284

31

31





Unknown

2029

530

57





Experience Level











None/Little

1785

304

41





Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1650

354

27





Experienced

2099

440

81





Unknown

2138

559

99





Month of Year











January

241

25

1





February

213

55

9





March

321

68

6





April

421

39

8





May

957

62

23





June

1100

70

40





July

1174

254

24





August

1075

184

27





September

1191

75

24





October

474

42

11





November

203

20

6





December

105

24

6





Unknown

17

1

1







1951-09

1959-04

2010

2010



Type of Injury/Illness (Data since

USA

1984)

CAN

USA

CAN



Fracture

1352

223

57





Laceration

737

71

19





Abrasion

361

76

17





Bruise

512

83

25





Sprain/strain

385

33

29





Concussion

266

28

8





Hypothermia

162

16

7





Frostbite

134

12

2





Dislocation

137

16

9





Puncture

52

13

1





Acute Mountain Sickness

45

0

1





HAPE

74

0

7





HACE

25

0

3





Other5

350

49

7





None

265

188

30





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, included: kidney stones; pre-existing atrial irregularity; HAPE (4).

2These included: clipping in to gear loop; rope too short; no knot in end of rope (4); distraction (4); lowered off end of rope; belayer pulled partner off; inadequate back-up; threaded lowering rope through nylon sling which burned through; slack in belay rope; carabiner not closed.

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: distraction (4); communication problems (3); unable to self-arrest (3); leader broke ice dam, releasing water and ice that hit partner; failure to pay attention to weather patterns; dislodging rock caused fall; cornice gave away; ice column collapsed; “summit fever,” inadequate self-rescue skills; tangled in climbing rope—caused fall; misjudged pendulum swing distance; climber unclipped from team and disappeared.

5These included: dehydration; exhaustion; thumb amputation; hyperextension; back spasms; internal injuries; chest trauma; 1,000 bee stings; dehydration; rope burn.

(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-bold come loose and falls would be coded as “Fall On Rock” and “Other” — and most often includes “Failure To Test Holds; rappel and belay errors are also recorded as “Fall on Rock,” and so forth.)

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