Summer climbing incidents occurring on Fujisan's north face from 1989 to 2008

Wilderness Environ Med. 2014 Dec;25(4):378-83. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2014.05.001. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Objective: Few studies exist on climbing-related incidents at Fujisan, although it is Japan's highest peak at 3776 m, and attracts dense crowds of summer climbers. A retrospective review was thus conducted to analyze the types of incidents and the demographics of climbers involved.

Methods: Police reports of summer climbing incidents occurring along the Yoshida trail on Fujisan's north face from 1989 to 2008 were reviewed. Variables assessed included climber age, sex, experience, gear, altitude of incident, and whether the incident occurred during ascent or descent, as well as the cause and severity of any associated injury.

Results: A total of 155 incident reports were assessed, including 28 deaths mostly attributable to cardiac events occurring among male climbers during ascent. The majority of nonfatal incidents occurred during descent and most involved tripping. More than half of all incidents were reported at the 8th step (approximately 3000 m). The frequent appearance of male climbers without experience or adequate footwear reflects Fujisan's summer demographics, yet the injury rate appears higher among older climbers more than 50 years of age. There were also 28 noninjury incidents attributed to acute mountain sickness or fatigue.

Conclusions: This retrospective review describes the demographics of summer climbing incidents on Fujisan's north face. Additionally, limitations to the current method of incident reporting were identified. More comprehensive recordkeeping would increase understanding of injuries and illness, which could improve resource allocation and reduce the risk of fatalities from out-of-hospital cardiac events.

Keywords: Fujisan; Japan; accident; climbing; climbing incidents; injury; mountaineering; national parks; seasonal; unintentional injury.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality
  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Altitude Sickness / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cerebral Infarction / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mountaineering / injuries*
  • Mountaineering / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Sex Distribution
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology