The Rocky Mountain Rescue Group has just published a study in the Wilderness and Environmental Medicine Journal on 14 years of rock climbing accidents in Boulder County, Colorado.
By the numbers, Boulder County is one of the busiest areas of the country for climbing rescues and we wanted to get the lessons learned into the hands of the climbing community.
The paper covers 14 years (1998 - 2011), 345 search and rescue incidents and 428 climbers within Boulder County.
We also put together a second report that will be more interesting for local Boulder County climbers by including comparisons to Eldorado Canyon specifically.
All of the information can be accessed here:
We hope that the lessons learned from the last 14 years will help prevent future accidents.
Some summary points include:
- Climbing anchors rarely fail (2.5% of total climbing accidents involved failed anchors), and when they do it is because of inexperience in setup.
- 20% of all climbing accidents could have been prevented by better belay practices such as tying a knot in the end of the rope, or wearing belay gloves.
- Rock fall causes a small number of accidents (4.5% of total), and seems linked to the freeze thaw cycles of spring. In early spring climbing checking the rock you’re about to climb on for security is a prudent preventative measure.
- Prior knowledge of climb rappel anchors and walk offs, and taking a headlamp, will prevent a lot of rescues (up to 45% of total).
- The common injuries sustained are to the legs/ankles (30%) and to the head and spine (30%). Knowledge of how to improvise splinting and how to assess spinal injuries might be a great addition to a climbers toolkit.
- 20% of climbers rescued were involved in accidents where the belayer or rappeller lost control of the lowering or ran out of rope before reaching the ground.
- Un-roped climbers made up one third of climbers rescued and almost 40% of those fatally injured.
If you have any questions we will make every effort to reply to Mountain Project or emails. You can contact us at contact@RockyMountainRescue.org
Rocky Mountain Rescue