Mountain deaths continued to fall in 2017

Hiking fatalities increased, but elsewhere the trend was positive. Keystone

The number of deaths in the Swiss mountains continued a downward trend last year, falling by 8%. The Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) attributed this to less snowy winter conditions and rather changeable weather through the rest of the year.

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The overall number of deaths in the mountains – resulting from (among others) climbing and hiking accidents, illnesses contracted in the heights, and skiing and mountain-biking accidents – was 154 in 2017. This is down from 179 the year before, and 213 in 2015, said the SAC on Monday.

Considering only the “classic” activities of hiking and climbing, the death toll was 103, also down (by 8%) on the previous year. Ski touring, rock climbing, and avalanche-related deaths all decreased; though more hikers (54 compared with 43) lost their lives.

Foreigners made up a sizeable proportion of the 103, said the SAC: some 43 of the fatalities came from abroad, while the rest were Swiss citizens. Most of the foreigners were from neighbouring Germany and Italy.

Men were more than four times more likely than women to lose their lives.

Overall, a total of 2,712 distressed people had to be rescued in the Alps and the Jura mountains through the year, a 4% drop on the previous year.

The SAC speculated that the reason for the decline was, firstly, the lack of snow in the mountains between January and April 2017 and, secondly, changeable summer conditions that may have deterred adventurers.

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