Accidents by the Numbers

Threads related to Colorado mountaineering accidents but please keep it civil and respectful. Friends and relatives of fallen climbers will be reading these posts.
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kzm5355
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by kzm5355 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:16 pm

2016 - Accidents in North American Mountaineering

I wish there was a way to exclude technical climbing incidents from this data to isolate hiking accidents.
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by polar » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:23 pm

age_1.png
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The way the data was presented in the table would have you think that 36-50 is the biggest group at first glance, but the age groups are not distributed equally below 30 and above 30.
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If I divide the data into "below 30" and "above 30", and drop the numbers with unknown age, then it's almost an exact 50/50 split. Looks like we do not necessarily get wiser as we get older (I'm in the "over 30" group BTW, so I'm not taking a dig at the older group).
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by polar » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:37 pm

kzm5355 wrote:2016 - Accidents in North American Mountaineering
Nice find! I'll update some of my charts to include data from 2015.
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by MountainRescueAspen » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:43 pm

Zambo wrote:I have absolutely nothing to say about the current incidents or debate.

But I would just like to offer a thank you for highlighting a few facts and real-world statistics for consideration. I can speak for no one else, but for me, I always feel these fact-based pieces of information are invaluable as I consider, understand, and seek to grow in my own mountaineering knowledge and safety. These charts add context, new info, and many good things to consider on a personal level. I always feel I glean a ton from this sort of education.

So, thanks for adding this, guys. Much appreciated!
Exactly what we hoped to elicit, Zambo !!!

Thank you, Polar & KZM5355 for cooking down the current data sets !
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by Sean Nunn » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:55 pm

I don't claim any expertise in accident analysis, but one thing seems to be worth mentioning to me:

About 4500 accidents due to falling all total from the North American chart.
75 accidents due to lightning all total from same chart.
You are more likely to be injured from falling than from being struck by lightning.

So as easy as it is to say sitting in a quiet room here, one lesson that we can all try to remember is:

If you find yourself in a position above treeline and lightning is very close (flash-boom), try very hard to not panic and outrun the lightning. You are more likely to fall trying to descend too rapidly in an attempt to "outrun" the lightning (which is impossible anyway) than you are to actually be struck by lightning.
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by kzm5355 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:01 pm

MountainRescueAspen wrote:
Exactly what we hoped to elicit, Zambo !!!

Thank you, Polar & KZM5355 for cooking down the current data sets !
No problem.

A question for MRA:
Are the patients that your team comes into contact with required to fill out an accident report on the American Alpine Club's website, or is that purely voluntary? If someone calls for help, but self-rescues, are they also asked to report the incident? Although impossible to know for sure, it would be nice to have an idea of how many near-misses go unreported.
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by MountainRescueAspen » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:15 pm

kzm5355 wrote:
MountainRescueAspen wrote:
Exactly what we hoped to elicit, Zambo !!!

Thank you, Polar & KZM5355 for cooking down the current data sets !
No problem.

A question for MRA:
Are the patients that your team comes into contact with required to fill out an accident report on the American Alpine Club's website, or is that purely voluntary? If someone calls for help, but self-rescues, are they also asked to report the incident? Although impossible to know for sure, it would be nice to have an idea of how many near-misses go unreported.

You must call 911 or push an SOS button to get to the Sheriff's Office. The S.O. "investigates" (usually in conjunction with our team) and establishes whether or not to call out the team "ALL CALL". Team meaning Mountain Rescue Aspen.
The data sets are a combination of field reports from the subject(s), sheriff dept. interviews and investigation(s), the reporting parties aka "RP" . Can be influenced in part by "limited conjecture" based upon location, terrain, lack of poor weather, interviews with family and friends, autopsy reports if the subject did not survive the emergency. Those data sets are reported to Mountain Rescue Association and make it to the American Alpine Club and ANAM journals after (think I got that right)
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by kzm5355 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:25 pm

MountainRescueAspen wrote:
You must call 911 or push an SOS button to get to the Sheriff's Office. The S.O. "investigates" (usually in conjunction with our team) and establishes whether or not to call out the team "ALL CALL". Team meaning Mountain Rescue Aspen.
The data sets are a combination of field reports from the subject(s), sheriff dept. interviews and investigation(s), the reporting parties aka "RP" . Can be influenced in part by "limited conjecture" based upon location, terrain, lack of poor weather, interviews with family and friends, autopsy reports if the subject did not survive the emergency. Those data sets are reported to Mountain Rescue Association and make it to the American Alpine Club and ANAM journals after (think I got that right)
Got it, thanks for the information and for all the time your team volunteers!
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by polar » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:39 pm

For those interested, ANAM has an article on the accident data in the Grand Teton. While it's not in Colorado, many of the lessons can be applied in general to hiking/climbing/mountaineering everywhere.

http://publications.americanalpineclub. ... rand-Teton
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by AyeYo » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:27 pm

Sean Nunn wrote:I don't claim any expertise in accident analysis, but one thing seems to be worth mentioning to me:

About 4500 accidents due to falling all total from the North American chart.
75 accidents due to lightning all total from same chart.
You are more likely to be injured from falling than from being struck by lightning.

So as easy as it is to say sitting in a quiet room here, one lesson that we can all try to remember is:

If you find yourself in a position above treeline and lightning is very close (flash-boom), try very hard to not panic and outrun the lightning. You are more likely to fall trying to descend too rapidly in an attempt to "outrun" the lightning (which is impossible anyway) than you are to actually be struck by lightning.
This is how statistics get read and used to draw incorrect conclusions. You're taking those two stats as totally isolated and in an absolute sense. Reality is more complex and there are factors at play that the statistics do not show. For example, you're probably "less likely" to die from a lightening strike on the whole simply because fewer people are exposed to lightening danger than to fall danger. The stats presented don't tell us, but it's probably a solid assumption. If you're on a ridge in a storm, your chances of dying in a lightening strike right then far exceed the average for climbers as a group. Likewise, while your probability of getting eaten by the Yeti are currently lower than your chances of winning Powerball, if he's right in front of you saying he's going to eat you, your chances likely much higher. You aren't going to stand there without a care in the world and say "eh, I have a better chance of winning Powerball. Nothing to worry about."

To think of it more simply, think of people that quote overall death probability for a national population and draw conclusions like "driving is more dangerous than mountain climbing - because your percentage chance of dying in a car crash is far higher than your chance of dying on a mountain." That IS what the stats say, but there's underlying information that isn't being taken into account - namely: nearly the entire adult population drives, and relatively very few climb mountains. Adjust the stats to include only people that actually partake in the given activity you'll likely find that mountain climbing is indeed far more dangerous than driving.
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by peter303 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:48 pm

All nine Colorado 14er summit fatalities in 2017 appear to have been falls.
(In addition to the Elks, I noted a Longs and Blanca)
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Re: Accidents by the Numbers

Post by paully » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:48 pm

AyeYo wrote:This is how statistics get read and used to draw incorrect conclusions. You're taking those two stats as totally isolated and in an absolute sense. Reality is more complex and there are factors at play that the statistics do not show. For example, you're probably "less likely" to die from a lightening strike on the whole simply because fewer people are exposed to lightening danger than to fall danger. The stats presented don't tell us, but it's probably a solid assumption. If you're on a ridge in a storm, your chances of dying in a lightening strike right then far exceed the average for climbers as a group. Likewise, while your probability of getting eaten by the Yeti are currently lower than your chances of winning Powerball, if he's right in front of you saying he's going to eat you, your chances likely much higher. You aren't going to stand there without a care in the world and say "eh, I have a better chance of winning Powerball. Nothing to worry about."

To think of it more simply, think of people that quote overall death probability for a national population and draw conclusions like "driving is more dangerous than mountain climbing - because your percentage chance of dying in a car crash is far higher than your chance of dying on a mountain." That IS what the stats say, but there's underlying information that isn't being taken into account - namely: nearly the entire adult population drives, and relatively very few climb mountains. Adjust the stats to include only people that actually partake in the given activity you'll likely find that mountain climbing is indeed far more dangerous than driving.
Wow I'm at risk of agreeing with you twice in one day. I had this same exact thought regarding the lightning comment, and have used the driving analogy with friends as well (who have rightly pointed out that more people die in car accidents than climbing mountains, but miss the point that you state above).

I had a similar instance a few years back where someone was seeking advice on whether or not they were ready to climb Capitol, citing the fact that they had already climbed Longs and that since Longs is a 'more deadly' peak than Capitol, then therefore Capitol was the easier of the two peaks. I (and others) had to point out at that point that while Longs has taken more lives, it has also seen probably at least 100x as many attempts and therefore comparing 'number of deaths' is basically meaningless... it would be far more useful to know the statistics in terms of percentages... raw numbers can be misleading at best, and sometimes utterly meaningless.
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