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Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2002

 Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2002

by Sean Hudson

October 11, 2002

ACCIDENTS IN NORTH AMERICAN MOUNTAINEERING 2002 is the fifty-fifth annual report of the safety committees of The American Alpine Club and the American Alpine Club of Canada. Offering detailed reports on more than one hundred climbing accidents that occurred in the United States and Canada in the year 2001.

ACCIDENTS 2002 details what happened and analyzes what went wrong in each situation to give mountaineers the opportunity to learn from each others' mistakes. It cites instances including inadequate protection, clothing, or equipment to lack of experience, errors in judgement, or attempts to exceed known climbing ability. In Canada, 2001 was the year of the stranded climber--climbers who got in over their heads and could no longer move up or down the mountain. In the United States, fatalities were the lowest (sixteen) in last twenty years, and there were also fewer costly rescues.

Here are a few of the reminders that come out of ACCIDENTS 2002:

  • Climbers are advised to collect as much information about their intended route as possible before setting out to ensure that they have the skills and equipment to finish the route. The information in a guidebook is not sufficient in many cases. Other information sources include alpine journals, other climbers, park wardens/rangers, and even the internet.
  • Test all holds on any rock that has cracks or evidence of loose rocks--no matter what the size.
  • All climbers should remember that rescuers put their lives at risk each time they respond to a call for help from a mountainside.
  • If you have knowledge of a climbing accident, please report it to the editors of ACCIDENTS IN NORTH AMERICAN MOUNTAINEERING. By doing so, you may help prevent someone else from making the same mistake.

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