Accidents Don’t Just Happen


Doh. Don’t drive your truck into a snowdrift on the side of Steven’s pass. It’ll look all bent like mine does. Not that I’m really complaining my passenger and I got to walk – or drive – away from this unscathed, plus the truck is fixable.

The moral of this tail is… accidents don’t just happen and there’s rarely one root cause. I mean it’s not like I was driving along and suddenly decided to take a hard left across oncoming traffic and into the barrier. Suffice to say it all started with not getting enough sleep and ended with choosing to pass a slow truck as we neared the summit and included several other mis-steps in between.

Read Accidents in North American Mountaineering and you find the same thing. Many accidents have a whole list of contributing factors that start many hours or even days before the actual event; the party was too slow or started too late, they chose to climb in less than ideal conditions, they took too much or too little equipment or they made a navigation decision and were off route.

When I think back about most of the near misses I’ve had they started with a seemingly innocuous decision that turned out to be bad, which in turn led to another one. Worth thinking about…