Logo Jim Frankenfield
jim@mountain-guiding.com; 1-877-604-0166

Mountain Guiding; Mountain Safety
An Experienced Professional

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Guiding Newsletter

Accident Analysis Archive - September, 1997


ANAM Review - Falls on Snow; Inadequate Protection/Anchors

The 1997 issue of "Accidents in North American Mountaineering" is now out. (This along with the American Alpine Journal and rescue insurance are included in American Alpine Club membership. "Accidents" and the Journal are also both available in stores.)

Two general types of accidents stand out in my mind as prevalent. Most in either category are preventable.

The first set is the "Falls on Snow" category. Given this years snow conditions this will surely be a large category in next years issue as well. Too many people are not practicing self-arrest adequately, or in some cases not learning it. The key to avoiding these problems is education and, at least as important, practice. Some of the victims of these accidents were out with friends who invited them along, and had no experience or instruction. Some were on easy routes often considered "hiking" or "scrambling" routes. If you're on snow slopes you need to know how to self-arrest. And have an axe.

The second set is the "Inadequate Anchors/Protection" category. This was also prevalent last year, to the extent that the editor inserted a number of comments about it. Many, perhaps most, people introduced to rock climbing today are learning in the highly controlled environment of a gym or a sport-climbing area. While this allows today's new climbers to progress very rapidly in terms of movement, balance, and general climbing ability it does not offer much preparation for lead climbing and/or multi-pitch climbing. Some of the anchor arrangements which are failing are absurd, and cases of leader protection pulling in a fall is increasingly common. Again the key is education, practice, and testing. (In a safe environment, of course.)


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