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Wilderness Environ Med. 2001 Summer;12(2):74-80.

Mountaineering accidents in the European Alps: have the numbers increased in recent years?

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Klinik für Anaesthesiologie, Intensivmedizin und Schmerztherapie, Klinikum der JW Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.



Media reports convey the impression that the incidence of fatal accidents in the European Alps has increased. Because more specific data are lacking, we analyzed available data from the mountain rescue services in Germany, Austria, southern Tirol, Zermatt/Switzerland, and Chamonix/France from 1987 until 1997.


Information was gathered from the annual reports of the Austrian Mountain Rescue Service, the Swiss Alpine Club Rescue Station in Zermatt, the Mountain Rescue Service of the Southern Tirol Alpine Club, the Mountain Rescue Service of the Bavarian Red Cross, and the Department of Mountain Medicine and Traumatology from the Hospital in Chamonix.


Although the total number of rescue missions and injured alpinists increased significantly during the period, the number of fatalities retrieved during such rescue missions showed no significant increase.


Even taking into account the varying definitions of "mountain accident" used in these countries, available data from the analyzed areas of the European Alps do not demonstrate a drastic increase in the number of fatalities. In the future, data concerning mountain accidents in the European Alps should be monitored according to standard definitions and stored by the International Commission for Alpine Rescue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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