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Dru

Lib Ridge Accident Statistics

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I thought I would split this off by starting a new thread instead of replying in the Rainier accident thread. Mods if it should be in the Rainier section pls. move it there.

 

Anyways I have the perception that although not involving particularly hard or dangerous climbing Lib Ridge sees more accidents than other routes on the mountain, and than other similar climbs on other mountains. I am curious if anyone has any ANAM statistics that back this up or disprove it. If the perception does turn out to be true is it because of the route's high popularity or some other factor? For instance, because it is a 50 Classic, are teams that wouldn't otherwise attempt it getting on it?

 

Think of Shuksan NF for instance. I can't recall any accidents on that one for a long time. Certainly it is a less committing, shorter and lower route but the difficulty of the climbing is pretty similar. Why are there fewer accidents?

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1) altitude?

2) fatigue?

3) Classic Climb on a Popular Mountain might attract less able people.

 

It would be great to see a breakdown of statistics for accidents on Rainier, and what route they occured vs. some other peaks in the NW. Anyone?

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I think in many climbers' minds Liberty Ridge has become a trade route, a third option besides Emmons or D.C. Many climbers will continue to luckily make it up and back down without being tested on the consequences of a fall or weather, etc. in that location. Just like other popular routes, many people who have little business being there make it through by chance. Liberty Ridge just happens to be more unforgiving for the unfortunate few who don't.

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I would wager that Liberty Ridge does indeed have a higher rate of accidents per ascent than any other route in the cascades except maybe obscure routes that only a few people have done like the Eve Dearborne Mem. Route.

 

In addition to the reasons mentioned previously, I believe the reasons for this are:

 

The "rock" on Liberty Ridge is shit... big plates of basalt and gobs of loosely congealed pumice. So rockfall is more common on LR. The rock on NF Shuksan is actually pretty good (green schist right Dru?).

 

Also, I'd say the length of the route (5000') and continual exposure on LR means if anyone slips, or a moderate rockfall or avalanche occurs anywhere on the route, chances are it's gonna be bad news.

 

It's inclusion in the "50 crowded climbs" means you get folks from Florida on the route, and gumbies = accidents, whereas most people have never heard of Shuksan.

 

 

I'd be interested in seeing those statistics as well. Is Mike Gauthier lurking?

Edited by Alpinfox

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I wouldn't be suprised if Lib Ridge sees more fatal accidents then any climb of it's nature in the US.

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Think of Shuksan NF for instance. I can't recall any accidents on that one for a long time.

 

The radio (KPLU) this morning reported a 500 foot fall on Shuksan, airlift, climber alive. Don't know if it was the NF though.

 

Can't find any info on the internet about it. Probably because the climber lived.

 

 

Also, people seem to get hurt regularly on Chair Peak. That one probably gives LR a run for it's money.

Edited by chucK

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iain will be able to tell us if the standard route on hood has more or less accidents than lib ridge.

 

chuck - thx for the heads up on shuksan. weather is pretty socked in up here so kinda surprised they could fly in - i can't see the mountain from my window at all.

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In terms of fatalities, are you meaning over the past certain number of years, or in relation to number of people climbing? I'd say Cooper Spur on Mt. Hood has a pretty deadly percentage when comparing number of climbs to fatalities. Almost every accident has been fatal.

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Wow! Three pages worth, worldwide, in the current news! Scary!

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i'm just talking accidents not fatalities. interesting about cooper spur. as for stats, the raw numbers are needed so you can calculate the per capita values. in otherr words, hood yak route might have 20 accidents out of 10, 000 climbers, lib ridge might have 5 accidents out of 100 climbers, which one is worse

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Sandy Heawall on Hood, how's that come in for accidents?

Thinking of all the volcano's (which attract the most people on relatively moderate long routes), Hood and Rainier seem to attract the most accidents.

Rainier is obviously the largest and has the highest objective danger of all the volcano's for its trade routes(crevasses, icefall).

Hood is what throws a curve ball into the scheme, because the objective danger and difficulty of the trade route is not a high as other volcano's.

I would argue it is the proximity of Rainier to seattle, and Hood to Portland that bring in the people. When these people come to these mountains, they want something different than the trade route even if the skills aren't present for such actions.

i would also imagine that the north sister has a high accident rate. The objective hazard is huge on that mountain. Seems like people die every year approaching the bowling ally. crazy.gif

Another aspect to look at is the recent commodification of climbing in the media and mass conciousness. Look at all the ads and commercials provoking people with pictures of climbing and living the "high" life. Seems to me there is so many factors playing into the recent accidents, but the real factor that affects this sport more than others is the sharpness of the learning curve.

I can't think of many other sports besides(BASE jumping, motorcycle racing, bull riding) that has such dire consequences for small mistakes. On that note see the latest thread about climbing consequences.

Maybe that makes sense, maybe it is obvious or maybe i am all hopped up on tooo much caffine confused.gif

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I can't think of many other sports besides(BASE jumping, motorcycle racing, bull riding) that has such dire consequences for small mistakes.

 

scuba diving

driving at freeway speed

driving a winding mountain road

self-administration of IV medication

DRI show with Doolittle

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The applicable statistical analysis to perform to answer Dru's question is described as follows:

 

First you need to standardize the measurement of accident frequency. It is inaccurate to directly compare the 3 accidents on Mount Obscure with the many accidents on Rainier. The most accurate way to do this would be to normalize the raw accident data in terms of climbing frequency and time. Thus you have a measurement of Accidents Per Climber Day, and you can compare values of this measurement across all peaks in the world to get a fair idea of accident intensity.

 

Secondly you need reliable data on each route you want to compare for the following:

- # climber days

- # accidents

And for each accident it would be nice to know

- what time it occurred (month, weekend or weekday, etc.)

- index of accident severity (no injury, injury but climbers continued, injury requiring self evac, non-incapacitating injury requiring assisted evac, incapacitating injury requiring assisted evac, fatality)

 

There are a bunch of other variables I would like to have measurements for, because with some additional information I could model the probability of injury severity in an accident. These include things like amount of climbing experience, has anyone in the party been on this mountain before, presence/absence of certain types of equipment, cause of accident (objective = rockfall, collapsed snow bridge, etc, subjective = climber fell, wrong knot, etc.), weather conditions, time of day, altitude, and so on. But that goes beyond Dru's question...

 

To test whether accident frequencies differ among various routes, you perform a chi-square test on the routes in question for which you have data. A significant p-value means there are (very probably) considerable differences in accident rates on different routes.

 

If someone would give me the data I could do the analysis in the time it takes to bigdrink.gif. The index of accident severity would be useful because then you can compare different routes in terms of how lethal they are. If most of your accidents on the DC result in self evac, then you might conclude that the route is safer than the Abruzzi Ridge of K2 where most accidents result in death. Most folks probably don't need a stats geek to tell them that, though.

 

But most importantly, you must remember what Winston Churchill famously said:

 

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

 

And if you want to argue with me on this I will throw my thesis at you which will probably result in an incapacitating injury requiring assisted evacuation.

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I hope Gator or someone from MRNP chimes in on this. I tend to disagree that the accidents on Liberty Ridge are most attributable to climber inexperience. It is a committing route for sure, and of all the technically diffucult routes on Rainier, it is the most accessible.

 

I'm willing to bet that most of the accidents that occur on Lib Ridge are objective hazard related that are the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but Hood is the most climbed mountain in the US and one of the most climbed mountains in the world (behind Mt. Fuji which has concession stands all the way to the top). I don't remember where I heard that so I could be pulling the out of my ear. Where would one look to find those kind of statistics?

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You sound like a charlatan to me boxing_smiley.gif

 

I think the quote should be attributed to Disreali. wave.gif

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but Hood is the most climbed mountain in the US and one of the most climbed mountains in the world (behind Mt. Fuji which has concession stands all the way to the top). I don't remember where I heard that so I could be pulling the out of my ear. Where would one look to find those kind of statistics?

you are wrong. and you are welcome to my correction the_finger.gif

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I tend to disagree that the accidents on Liberty Ridge are most attributable to climber inexperience. It is a committing route for sure, and of all the technically diffucult routes on Rainier, it is the most accessible.

 

I'm willing to bet that most of the accidents that occur on Lib Ridge are objective hazard related that are the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I would bet you're right too, but I think that, in combination with the unusual amount of traffic it sees as a "standard route", make it seem more brutal than others. I just always hear about the rush to thumb rock to reserve your spot, etc. while other routes of similar difficulty are vacant.

 

Skyclimb: cave diving is definitely more deadly than climbing. laugh.gif

North Sister is frequently underestimated by climbers.

Sandy Headwall has few accidents.

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you are wrong. and you are welcome to my correction the_finger.gif

 

cry.gif I'm always wrong....

 

I think it would also be interesting to find out how many actually summit compared to how many people attempt (accidents included).

 

Skyclimb: For a sport to be a sport the possibility of death is considerable if not imminent tongue.gif.

Edited by Dulton

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I've only been on Liberty Ridge twice (run off both times due to weather) but I see rock fall as an added danger you don't see on easier routes on Rainier. The rocks do make a weird kind of whirling/buzzing sound as they go by.

 

Dru, then see if you can find out whether there are more accidents before or after Thumb rock.

The last time I was there (2001), a ranger was hit in the chest by a rock.

 

Jedi

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last I heard, mt. Hood is the second most climbed significant mountain in the world. This is also considering that many parties don't sign in bigdrink.gif

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I can't think of many other sports besides(BASE jumping, motorcycle racing, bull riding) that has such dire consequences for small mistakes.

 

scuba diving

driving at freeway speed

driving a winding mountain road

self-administration of IV medication

DRI show with Doolittle

Self administration of IV medication- interesting sport Chuck yelrotflmao.gif

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I sent the following letter to the PI. The Park would have stats on which routes get the most accidents per climber.

 

"Are you all anti-French?

 

Will you also change the name of Rainier to 'Patriot Peak'?

 

'Freedom Ridge' sounds like a John Ashcroft gaff. There is no such ridge on Mt Rainier.

The climbing community is curious how you arrived at that name. Liberty Ridge is the most famous of all routes on Rainier. It appeared in the book '50 Classic Climbs of America' decades ago and has been pummeled with traveling climbers since. They come to tick a "classic". They often underestimate the scale of the undertaking. They frequently fail. Sometimes, they die.

 

It is a very sad thing that so many are blinded to the dangers by the label "Classic". There are easier routes on the mountain that would be more appropriate for most 'out of towners'. Even those with good experience should not jump on a hard route on a Rainier sized mountain after not having been there for a year or more. Many climb it every year and sometimes more often and still are humbled every time. It is not fair to classify "climbers" all in the same group. Many of us are far less willing to risk injury or death than others. So we 'fail' to summit frequently but live to summit another day.

 

Otherwise, a pretty good article."

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I do attribute the higher accident rate to it being in 50 Classic Clinbs. But I'd like to compare the number of out of state climber accidents to the PNW climber accidents. I'd be willing to say that conditions are as not as carefully considered when climbers fly in for a week to do the route.

 

Hummingbird Ridge is hardly a "classic" climb. Impressive, yes. I don't know why that is in the 50CC book. Same way EDM on index is not "classic".

 

Public perception changes when a route sees a lot of successful traffic. That is unfortunate. I'll bet some people think Everest is easy now.

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