The perception of causes of accidents in mountain sports: A study based on the experiences of victims

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Each year, accidents involving mountain sports have many repercussions, including alarming public opinion and society. This study outlines the results of a qualitative study on the responses of 135 survivors of accidents that took place while mountaineering, climbing, downhill skiing and ski mountaineering, hiking, cross-country biking, and mountain racing. A content analysis was performed on the textual data obtained from the responses to an online survey. The identified causes were: environmental events, equipment, medical events, behavioral events, and time pressure, but they appear combined in different ways for the analyzed disciplines. Results show that for downhill skiing, direct causes of accidents were mainly behavioral: excessive speed, skiing errors, and fatigue. For ski mountaineering, direct causes were errors in decision-making and skiing. In mountaineering, precursors were unfavorable conditions, fatigue, lack of preparation, and skill errors. In climbing, difficulty is an omnipresent feature, but the precursors are mainly errors. Our results highlight the multi-causal nature of accidents that take place when practicing mountain sports. Finally, we examine the need to promote a mountain sports culture that highlights safety and injury prevention. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-201
JournalAccident Analysis & Prevention
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Human error
  • Mountain sports
  • Qualitative study
  • Risk


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