Mountain accidents: more than a hundred deaths on average each year

Death of Gaspard Ulliel after a skiing accidentcase

The collision which caused the death of Gaspard Ulliel is a reminder that mountain deaths are numerous in France. Mountaineering, hiking and shocks on the slopes… More than a hundred victims are to be deplored on average each year.

Deaths in the high mountains (hiking, mountaineering, skiing, paragliding, etc.) are unfortunately not uncommon. They regularly fill the pages of the local press between November and April. According to the latest figures available from the National Mountain Safety Observation System, traumatic accidents in ski areas and mountains – a priori those related to shocks – vary between 71 (in 2010) and 131 (2015).

Specifically concerning fatal accidents, 117 have been recorded on average each year over the last decade. On the other hand, deaths from trauma on skis represent only a fraction of this figure. Excluding avalanches and ski touring, there have been an average of 15 deaths per year for ten years.

If these last two years, the figures are obviously much lower and impossible to analyze because of the health crisis and the closing of the slopes, the general trend is towards the increase of dramas on the slopes. “The analysis is very complicated to do because on the one hand we have more and more safety equipment, but on the other, new sports and new practices appear every year, leading to conflicts of use” , exposes to Release Lieutenant-Colonel Bertrand Host, from the Chamonix high mountain gendarmerie platoon.

The latter lists the collisions between skiers, tobogganers, hikers, mountain bikers… Varied practices – even if alpine skiing and snowboarding remain widely popular – whose behaviors differ or even oppose each other on the slopes. “You would have to cross a very large number of factors to interpret all these figures”, said Lieutenant-Colonel. For their part, the gendarmes carry out prevention in schools, but as regards responsibility on the slopes, the soldier is categorical: “It’s the stations that take care of the security.”

Update: 9:17 a.m., with details in the title and capo of the article.

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