Learning from mistakes can be a little painful. Learning from other people’s mistakes is already more comfortable and almost as beneficial. The off-season is a great time to review accident reports and learn from them.

Mountain guide Dominique Asselin says, “The more you know yourself about the consequences of other people’s mistakes, the more you can project yourself and say to yourself, “Oh, that person is me.” ‘It’s the same as that,’ says mountain guide Dominique Asselin. We often have a vision that people who die or cause accidents are stupid or have zero experience. Yes, things like that happen sometimes, but in their heads they thought they had been through it and were dealing with it. »

Reading the accident report will show you the mistakes that were made.

“This moves us away from a sort of magical idea of ​​placing the cause in an external factor, an equipment failure or an unforeseen exceptional situation,” Asselin says. However, the majority of accidents are rather related to the decision chain, inexperience, and fatigue. »

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In the world of climbing and mountaineering, it is published annually by the American Mountaineering Association. Accidents in North American Mountaineeringa report analyzing accidents that have occurred in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as reported by guides, rangers, or the participants themselves.

One summary found that falls were the main cause of mountaineering and mountaineering accidents in 49% of cases.

Equipment failure is the main cause in only 0.2% of cases. This is lower than being struck by lightning (0.65% of cases).

The Camptocamp site hosts SERAC, a platform for sharing experiences of accidents and incidents in mountain areas. Stories and analyzes are in French and primarily from the Alps. Some events are dramatic (avalanches), others are more gentle (route errors), but all are analyzed with the same rigor. We look at weather and terrain conditions, assess participants’ physical preparation and skill level, and consider participant motivation. We will study group management, attention, risk assessment, etc. We highlight factors that exacerbated the impact of the event and those that mitigated it.

French mountaineer Maud Vanpoule wrote her doctoral thesis on “accidentology in mountain sports” based on testimonies submitted to SERAC. She published her two articles disseminating her work on the Montagne Magazine website. Although she is talking about mountain sports, it is easy to translate her conclusions to other sports such as hiking.

Thus, she talks about the factors that influence accidents, such as the perception of ease, greater difficulty than expected, loss of energy that lowers alertness and affects the decision-making process.

And what she calls goal weight, the desire to reach the top at any cost. Even if that means ignoring worrying signs, such as worsening weather or extremely fatigued participants. Especially if you have spent a lot of time and money on the project.

People are more willing to die with me for the expensive trips I sell than for the cheaper ones. I say to them: “Okay, let’s say you die. At least no one is going to say you died for $14,000.”

Dominique Asselin, mountain guide

Another good source for accident reports is the New York State Forest Ranger Weekly Report. Their stories highlight a lack of preparation, especially this one about what happened on Whiteface Mountain on March 9th (ankle injury).

“Rangers contacted the three hikers from Quebec and found that although the injuries were not serious, the hikers were poorly prepared for the situation. None of the three were wearing crampons. There was only one person in the water, and all of them were wearing leggings instead of pants. In addition, the hikers had no headlamps or navigational aids and were underwater.»

The report diplomatically concluded that after returning the climbers to safety, rangers educated them on the importance of being well prepared.


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American skier McKenna Petersen races down the mountains of Idaho to the music of Lisa LeBlanc. Hats off.

This is the number of meat parts that Quebec food banks were able to distribute in 2023 thanks to the generosity of hunters.

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