The mountain accident statistics of the German Alpine Association continue a pleasing trend for 2021: Accidents and emergencies among DAV members have fallen by a quarter compared to the previous year and have thus reached a new low. One of the most common causes of accidents was falling while hiking.
Again there are at the accident numbers of DAV members in 2021 relative to the number of members reached a low: With a total of 669, the number of accidents and emergencies fell significantly compared to the previous year with 935 - to be more precise, the rate fell by 26 percent and thus by a quarter.
The most important statements compact
- The long-term trend towards lower accident rates among DAV members is continuing.
- The number of accidents and emergencies fell by a quarter compared to 2020 - hitting a new low.
- 32 deaths in 2021: The numbers are roughly the same as last year, with the lowest level ever recorded.
- In 2021, the accident rates for mountain hiking, alpine climbing, sport climbing, ski touring and mountain biking will remain at about the same level as the previous year. Only when climbing via ferrata were there slightly fewer accidents than in the previous year.
- With 310 accidents, most damage reports still come from hiking.
- Falls without external influences are the most common cause of accidents when hiking.
- In the winter of 20/21, the number of accidents plummeted. This can be attributed to the closed ski areas during the pandemic
Accidents in 2021 at a glance
The number of members killed in accidents remains at about the level of last year, with the lowest level ever recorded: 32 people died in mountaineering during the reporting period - about four more than in 2020, but still well below the average of the last 20 years with 42 deaths.
This continues the long-lasting trend of a falling accident probability for DAV members, even if the absolute number of accident victims has been rising steadily since 1970 at the latest: While fewer than 250 people were affected at the beginning of the 1000s, the number has increased annually over the past ten years over 240.000 reports received. At the same time, however, the number of members of the DAV rose from 1,4 to currently more than XNUMX million.
The rate of accidents in relation to membership shows a clear downward trend and will reach an absolute low of 2021 percent in 0,048. One reason for the record low is the sharp drop in the number of accidents in winter 20/21.
In total, only 38 downhill skiing and freeriding emergencies were reported due to the long lockdown in which ski resorts were closed. There was also a decrease in accidents and emergencies when it came to ski touring, presumably due to restricted travel to neighboring countries.
Falls while hiking are the greatest danger
As in previous years, this mountain sports year shows that most accidents happen when hiking: out of a total of 669 reported accidents and emergencies with 32 fatalities, 310 incidents occurred here, 17 of which ended fatally. This means that almost every second report relates to a hiking accident.
In almost all other core alpine sports such as climbing, mountaineering and mountain biking, the numbers are roughly the same as last year.
Accident occurrence in national and international comparison
The DAVMountain Accident Statistics does not reflect all accidents in the mountains, since it only records DAV members. In an international comparison, other institutions (e.g. SAC mountain emergency statistics, statistics of the Austrian Alpine Police, number of operations by the Bavarian Mountain Rescue Service) have reported increases in mountain accidents in the core Alpine disciplines over the past two years, while accident reports by DAV members have fallen.
Outlook: Climate change is increasingly changing mountaineering
A previous winter with little snow, a warm spring and a very hot summer with long periods of good weather with little precipitation made for special conditions in 2022, especially in the high mountains.
incidents like that Glacier break-off at the Marmolada (3343m) in the Italian Dolomites are unpredictable, but could increase in the future due to the consequences of climate change, because heat destabilizes the mountains.
Rockfall in the Mont Blanc massif
What impact can this have on the mountaineering community? “Mountaineers have to be prepared for shorter time windows, especially for classic high-altitude tours. Some tours will be more difficult or no longer accessible at all, which must be taken into account when planning a tour in detail,” explains Lorenz Berker from DAV security research.
Especially in high alpine terrain, the following dangers must be expected:
- Increased risk of falling rocks and ice
- Danger of falling into crevasses due to the softening of the snow and the collapse of entire snow bridges
- Danger of being carried along, especially on (aper) steep glacier sections and generally on flanks
- Wet snow slide, increased exertion due to deep sinking
- Supposedly easy tours can sometimes be significantly more difficult than in previous years or in older tour descriptions.
Background information on DAV mountain accident statistics
The German Alpine Association has been publishing mountain accident statistics since 1952. A comprehensive report covering two seasons is published every two years – and this year, too. The current reporting period runs from November 1, 2019 to October 31, 2021 and includes the entire winter and summer season in the mountains.
The data is exclusively based on accident reports from DAV members worldwide. This results in the particular importance of the DAV accident statistics: Based on the accident figures recorded continuously for decades, meaningful conclusions can be drawn about the accident occurrence - and the accident risk - in the mountains in general.
That might interest you
- Mountaineering meets the climate crisis: are tragic accidents like those on the Marmolada becoming more common?
- Another massive rockfall in the Mont Blanc massif | Video
- Rockfall at the Arête des Cosmiques in the Mont Blanc area
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Credits: cover photo DAV/Silvan Metz, text DAV