American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2012



1951-10

1959-04

2011

2011





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Terrain



Rock

4735

528

103





Snow

2461

355

49





Ice

282

15

4





River

15

3

0





Unknown

22

10

0





Ascent or Descent





Ascent

3790

587

104





Descent

1123

371

49





Unknown

256

13

1





Other N.B.

12

0

2





Immediate Cause



Fall or slip on rock

3745

290

83





Slip on snow or ice

1071

207

23





Falling rock, ice, or object

653

137

6





Exceeding abilities

557

32

7





Illness 1

420

26

17





Stranded

368

53

8





Avalanche

304

127

8





Rappel Failure/Error 2

315

47

12





Exposure

278

14

1





Loss of control/glissade

215

17

9





Nut/chock pulled out

254

9

7





Failure to follow route

219

30

7





Fall into crevasse/moat

169

50

5





Faulty use of crampons

115

6

3





Piton/ice screw pulled out

95

13

0





Ascending too fast

72

0

1





Skiing 3

64

11

2





Lightning

47

7

0





Equipment failure

16

3

0





Other 4

549

37

24





Unknown

61

10

0





Contributory Causes



Climbing unroped

1031

165

10





Exceeding abilities

955

202

20





Placed no/inadequate protection

813

96

17





Inadequate equipment/clothing

717

70

7







1951-10

1959-04

2011

2011





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



Weather

495

67

16





Climbing alone

420

69

6





No hard hat

359

71

4





Inadequate belay2

249

28

4





Nut/chock pulled out

209

32

6





Poor position

211

20

4





Darkness

165

21

3





Party separated

118

12

6





Failure to test holds

105

32

3





Piton/ice screw pulled out

86

13

0





Failed to follow directions

70

12

0





Exposure

65

16

1





Illness1

40

9

0





Equipment failure

13

7

0





Other4

282

100

17





Age of Individuals



Under 15

1247

12

0





15-20

1307

203

7





21-25

1455

257

25





26-30

1373

211

28





31-35

2057

114

25





36-50

1374

143

46





Over 50

323

31

13





Unknown

2070

530

27





Experience Level



None/Little

1852

304

20





Moderate (1 to 3 years)

1677

354

27





Experienced

2173

440

69





Unknown

2249

559

56





Month of Year



January

245

25

5





February

222

55

2





March

336

68

10





April

431

39

11





May

961

62

16





June

1153

70

29





July

1199

254

24





August

1107

184

23





September

1199

75

12





October

480

42

9







1951-10

1959-04

2011

2011





USA

CAN.

USA

CAN.



November

214

20

9





December

116

24

4





Unknown

18

1

2





Type of Injury/Illness (Data since 1984)



Fracture

1409

223

66





Laceration

756

71

31





Abrasion

378

76

11





Bruise

537

83

13





Sprain/strain

414

33

9





Concussion

274

28

12





Hypothermia

169

16

2





Frostbite

136

12

4





Dislocation

146

16

6





Puncture

53

13

0





Acute Mountain Sickness

46

0

2





HAPE

81

0

2





HACE

28

0

2





Other5

357

49

23





None

295

188

11





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: HAPE/HACE (4); AMS (2); cardiac (3); frostbite; pneumonia; abdominal; fatigue/exhaustion (7); dehydration.

These 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.

This category was set up originally for ski mountaineering. Backcountry touring or snowshoeing incidents—even if one gets avalanched—are not in the data.

These included: lowering/rappel: miscommunication—includes climbers not knowing each other; (4); unable to self-arrest (4); haste (3); pulled rock off (3); dislodged rock—fell on party below; complacency/ overconfidence (2); lost one crampon; dropped ascending device; rope not secured to harness; not familiar with route; failure to assess conditions (avalanche).

These included: dehydration; fatigue/exhaustion; thumb amputation; hyperextension; back spasms; internal injuries; chest trauma; cardiac; 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-hold 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.

Data change: The 1986 and 1997 editions had some repeat data from previous years. The corrections are reflected in the cumulative data.)

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