March 2022 Safety Committee Update

Read on for an overview of our 2018-2021 Safety Report, as well as additional resources for leaders to incorporate into their trip planning and hazard management strategies.
Bill Ashby Bill Ashby
Safety Committee Member
April 25, 2022

In The Mountaineers, we pride ourselves on a high standard of safety while exploring the lands and waters of Washington. To maintain this standard we regularly review our safety standards and any incidents that occur so that we might learn from them.

The Mountaineers Safety Committee recently completed a Safety Report, analyzing incidents from 2018 through 2021. Below is a summary of this report, which includes work by both the Safety Committee and branches. We also provide additional resources for continuing education. 

Annual Safety Report

This report provides summary statistics, analysis, and key lessons learned. There are detailed charts showing incident severity, type, frequency, and rate, broken out by year. Finally, an appendix shows incident descriptions and lessons learned, removing specific incident dates, names, and second person pronouns in support of anonymity. Mountaineers members and leaders can use this information to better prepare for courses and trips and reduce the frequency and severity of incidents.

2018 - 2021 Mountaineers Safety Report

Report Highlights

In 2018 through 2021 there were 427 incident reports broken out as follows: 

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Slips and falls were the majority of incidents, followed by hit and struck, and then conditioning/health issues:

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Incident descriptions indicate falls on-trail are the result of:

  • Distraction (taking a picture or talking to passersby)
  • Stepping off-trail to allow another party to pass
  • Roots and other trail anomalies, wet logs, stream crossings
  • Conditioning (reduced stamina) as a contributing factor

Falls off-trail are the result of:

  • On snow: predominantly ice-axe skill related, but post-holing as well
  • On scrambling terrain: shifting rock while crossing talus
  • On technical-climbing terrain: handholds and footholds breaking off, judgement, skill

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Incident Report How-to

A presentation explaining the "5W’s" of incident reporting is available on the safety page of the website, which course instructors can include in activity course training materials.  This presentation stresses the importance of including “Near Miss” and “Provided Assistance” in incident reporting, as they are very important opportunities to capture lessons learned.

The 5W's on Incident Reporting

Tips and Considerations

Leaving Notes on Routes/Places

With the support of staff, when trip leaders close a trip on the website, they now receive an email encouraging them to suggest edits to the “Notes” section of the Route/Place template for the trip. This allows leaders to share tips and considerations for future leaders, so that they might watch out for potential hazards and incorporate these tips into their trip planning and leadership.

Everett Branch Contributions: Rockfall presentation and Ice Axe vs. Trekking Pole Bulletin

The Everett branch prepared a presentation showing methods to reduce the frequency and severity of human-caused rockfall. Course instructors can include this presentation in course training materials.

Managing Rockfall

The Everett Scrambling Committee prepared a bulletin reviewing an injury resulting from an unsuccessful arrest after falling on snow.  This bulletin has been shared with climbing, scrambling, and snowshoe summit groups.

Ice Axes Vs Trekking Poles

Lead image of a kayak rescue drill. Photographer unknown. 


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Ash P
Ash P says:
Apr 28, 2022 08:11 AM

Do we also happen to have data on Safety incidents by sport and relative to total # of trips of that sport?

Bill Ashby
Bill Ashby says:
May 03, 2022 08:06 PM

Hello Ash P, . . . yes, incident frequency, severity and rate are broken out by activity and shared on the activity basecamps.

Dan Lauren
Dan Lauren says:
Apr 29, 2022 08:42 AM

Glad to see the committee active and producing a very good report! Keep up the good work, it is a big time commitment, but helps the organization become better. Good to see the website self reporting is working well to gather incidents. Thank you all for your service.

N. Michael Hansen
N. Michael Hansen says:
Apr 29, 2022 08:44 AM

I hope Dave Shema continues editing and publishing his Safety Stories and the Everett Mountaineers collection of tips for Climbers. Every participant should read them.