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New Study on Rock Climbing Accidents and Rescues
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By Martin le Roux
From Superior, CO
Jul 5, 2012
Stairway to Heaven

Just curious if anyone keeps tabs on the number of climber visits to Eldo each year. It would interesting to know the overall accident/fatality rate per climber-day.

There was a thread about this a couple of months ago and someone threw out an estimate of 100,000 climber visits p.a., but that seems way too high in relation to the number of parking spots in Eldo.

The RMRG paper refers a British gov't agency website that mentions a fatality rate of 1 in 320,000 climber-days. But that website doesn't say where that statistic came from.


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By JSH
Administrator
Jul 5, 2012
JSH @ home <br /> <br />photo courtesy of Gabe Ostriker

As I said above, the weakest link in climbing is the climber. Thus - the best thing the climbing community can do to reduce accidents is to focus on the climbers, not the relative difference in cams pulling versus nuts pulling.

Here's an idea: checklists.

The use of checklists is well ingrained in flights, and has made a big difference in health care -- for instance in reducing infections acquired during a hospital stay. Surgeons do a "timeout" to verify patient identity and the surgical plan immediately before surgery.

We climbers use already use a checklist: we check buckles, check the lock on a belay caribiner, and we have the verbal "on belay?" exchange. This checklist undoubtedly reduces accidents from incorrect tie-ins and from "well I thought I was on belay ..."

Given the distribution of accidents, which is heavily weighted towards errors during belayed descent, we should add one word to this pre-flight check: "Descent". What is the descent plan? Have we verified the length of the descent (is a 70m required)?

"Locked? Tied in? On belay? Descent?"

This won't prevent all errors or solve every situation -- nothing will -- but the simple act of calling deliberate attention to the issues of descent could make a big difference.


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By fossana
From Boulder, CO
Jul 5, 2012
West Overhang

Thanks for posting. If you guys need someone to do some more detailed stats (e.g. multivariate) down the line I can assist. Allison has my number.

-Michelle


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