In 2020, 3471 people in the Swiss Alps and the Jura were in an emergency and had to be rescued or rescued by mountain rescue - more than in any previous year. 112 people had fatal accidents in classic mountain sports.

The corona situation in Switzerland also influenced the touring activities in 2020 and thus the mountain emergencies and accidents. During the lockdown from mid-March, the authorities and the alpine associations called for no mountain sports activities.

Despite the excellent meteorological conditions, there were significantly fewer people on the road, especially on ski tours, and the result was a marked decrease in mountain emergencies and accidents. With the easing from mid-May, on the other hand, activities and thus also the emergency and accident numbers rose sharply.

With the relaxation, the activities and with it the emergency and accident numbers rose sharply.

Mountain emergencies reach their peak

In 2020, a total of 3471 mountaineers found themselves in an emergency or had an accident, more than in any previous year. 1172 people were rescued in good health or only with minor injuries. 180 people lost their lives, 47 of them due to illness and mostly due to a cardiovascular problem.

Compared to previous years, the significantly lower proportion of foreign victims is striking.

In mountain sports in the narrower sense [1], 104 mountain climbers had fatal accidents in 112 incidents (previous year 120). Compared to previous years, the significantly lower proportion of foreign victims is striking. While this was mostly well over 40 percent, in 2020 it was 30 percent with 27 fatal accidents. The cause is largely due to the travel restrictions in 2020.

Particular caution is required on shady and icy hiking trails. © SAC-CAS
Particular caution is required on shady and icy hiking trails. © SAC-CAS

Icy hiking trails are a challenge for many accident victims

When hiking in the mountains, a total of 1627 people (previous year 1189) got into an emergency situation, 55 even had fatal accidents (previous year 54). While the fatal accidents correspond to the long-term average, the emergencies increased significantly and reached a peak in 2020. Especially in spring and early summer as well as in autumn it is evident that even simple mountain hiking trails can be dangerous when shady sections of the trail are snow-covered or icy. In 2020 there were a particularly large number of accidents on such sections of the route, six of them fatal.

While the fatal accidents correspond to the long-term average, the emergencies increased significantly.

The SAC recommends planning mountain hikes carefully and finding out about the conditions and the weather. The path should not be left, snow-covered and icy passages are to be assessed carefully and good mountain boots should be part of the basic equipment. If in doubt, it is better to turn back.

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[1] In these statistics, mountain sports in the narrower sense are primarily understood as events in classic mountain sports that do not involve the use of a transport device. Therefore, in the figures shown here, deaths from delta and paragliding, speed flying, base jumping and the use of mountain bikes are recorded separately. The figures for classic mountaineering can therefore be compared over several years.

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Credits: image and information material SAC

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