Apr 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm #1257469
Ron BellBPL Member
Does anyone know of a source that lists types of back country injury accidents/ illnesses, etc by type in some type of usable rank?
etc….Apr 8, 2010 at 4:54 pm #1595888
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I can't give you any statistics. However, when I took a mountain medicine course one time, the instructors taught us a thing or two on what to expect. The attendees were mostly state park rangers, Sierra Club backpack leaders, nurses, and a few physicians. They did not have it sorted for on-trail versus off-trail injuries. Obviously, off-trail hiking has more risks.
One of the most common injuries is when the hiker is impaled by a sharp/broken tree branch on a tree that is down across a trail. Maybe only on the leg, but it could be anywhere. Maybe not too much more than skin deep. The problem is that some thru-hikers are out on some trail without any assistance for a week or two at a time, and if a wound like that gets infected, there is a problem. Weekend hikers don't have the same infection risk, since they will be home in a couple of days.
I found this one strange, but we were taught that too many hikers have carried along some "recreational pharmaceuticals" and poisons, and we were given a long list of overdose symptoms to look for in an impaired hiker.
Obviously, when we are hiking along a trail for 15-20 miles in a given day, we pretty much have to keep it together.
–B.G.–Apr 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm #1595948
Piper S.BPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
I lead Sierra Club hikes and live in the Southern California area. The most common problems I see have to do with heat and people not having enough water. The next most common problem has to do with people biting off more than they can chew. Newbies showing up for a hike marked "strenous, 19 mile round trip". That sort of thing. Then there are sprained ankles. Other than that, I've never seen any other serious injuries myself.Apr 8, 2010 at 6:44 pm #1595955
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I led Sierra Club backpack, X-C skiing, and snow climbing trips for twenty years, and among the participants, I never had one reportable injury. People would get impaired through stupidity mostly. Like Piper suggested, heat exhaustion from not drinking enough water is big. One backpacker got sick, and when we got it all sorted out, it was primarily from being on a fasting diet for three days! Hypothermia happens, but it is easily treatable.
–B.G.–Apr 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm #1595963
W I S N E R !BPL Member
Closest I know of if produced by the American Alpine Club: their annual Accidents in North American Mountaineering
There's a link on this page for statistics back to 1951.Apr 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm #1595973
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Closest I know of if produced by the American Alpine Club: their annual Accidents in North American Mountaineering"
That's pretty much the bible for climbing, but it doesn't cover hiking/backpacking. I wonder if there IS a single source for these activities. One possibility is to start checking SAR group reports, because they handle anything and everything that happens in the mountains, at least up here in the Cascades. They generally operate under the county sheriff. Down in the Sierra, there's a hot shot volunteer organization that operates under the INYO County Sheriff Department. But the National Park folks occasionally get involved, too, depending on jurisdiction. It would be a lot of work to aggregate and classify all the data, Ron. Maybe somebody already has. It might be worth asking a couple of SAR outfits about that. Seems like they'd know if anybody would.Apr 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm #1596831
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
NOLS and the Sierra Club have extensive data on the topic. Contact them.Apr 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm #1596870
Mary DBPL Member
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I don't know if every state does this, but Oregon's Emergency Management Department requires that all SAR missions in Oregon be reported to the state. Here's the annual 2009 report: http://www.oregon.gov/OMD/OEM/tech_resp/sar_docs/annual_sar_report_2009.pdfApr 11, 2010 at 5:56 pm #1596874
Brian CampriniBPL Member
@bcampriniLocale: Southern Appalachians
Coming soon…the MLD carbon fiber & cuben backcountry wheelchair.Apr 11, 2010 at 7:21 pm #1596911
Tony BeasleyBPL Member
@tbeasleyLocale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
I found "this" it might be of some help.
TonyApr 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm #1596918
Ethan A.BPL Member
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
NOLS has extensive data on this (and on things they did to cut down on injuries and prepare for injuries they expected).Apr 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm #1596930
Ron BellBPL Member
Thanks for the input- really looking for any openly available hiking/backpacking specific data already out there vs lots of research or compiling info from multilple sources. Is the NOLS info public? Links?
RonApr 12, 2010 at 6:34 am #1597015
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CAApr 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm #1597127
@john_gookinnols-eduLocale: Wind River Range
Go to NOLS/Research/Project Reports/ at:
and hit the Risk Management topic to get the NOLS data. Go right to the tables to get the answers you wanted. Also, the article tells you how so many accidents happen in camp rather than on the trail, which is helpful.
This article has some similar OB data:
Gender differences in injury and illness rates on wilderness backpacking trips
Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, Volume 6, Issue 4, Pages 363-376
S. Twombly, L. Schussman
Hope this helps,
John GookinApr 16, 2010 at 9:51 pm #1598878
John WittBPL Member
@johnbrown2005Locale: Portland, OR
Way back when I took a NOLS course they told me exposure (heat or cold) was leading cause of death in wilderness, followed by rockfall. Now I drink lots of water, carry a layer, and watch my position so I'm not kicking stuff down/getting kicked down on. Still here.
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