Climbing Accidents-Prospective Data Analysis from the International Alpine Trauma Registry and Systematic Review of the Literature

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 27;17(1):203. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17010203.


Climbing has become an increasingly popular sport, and the number of accidents is increasing in parallel. We aim at describing the characteristics of climbing accidents leading to severe (multisystem) trauma using data from the International Alpine Trauma Registry (IATR) and at reporting the results of a systematic review of the literature on the epidemiology, injury pattern, severity and prevention of climbing accidents. We found that climbing accidents are a rare event, since approximately 10% of all mountain accidents are climbing related. Climbing accidents mainly affect young men and mostly lead to minor injuries. Fall is the most common mechanism of injury. Extremities are the most frequently injured body part. However, in multisystem climbing-related trauma, the predominant portion of injuries are to head/neck, chest and abdomen. The fatality rate of climbing accidents reported in the literature varies widely. Data on climbing accidents in general are very heterogeneous as they include different subspecialties of this sport and report accidents from different regions. A number of risk factors are accounted for in the literature. Appropriate training, preparation and adherence to safety standards are key in reducing the incidence and severity of climbing accidents.

Keywords: International Alpine Trauma Registry; accident; climbing; literature review; trauma.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Analysis
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Mountaineering / injuries*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries*