Equipment Became Better in Backcountry Skiing-Did Severity of Injuries Decrease? An Analysis from the Swiss Alps.

Gasser, Benedikt (2020). Equipment Became Better in Backcountry Skiing-Did Severity of Injuries Decrease? An Analysis from the Swiss Alps. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(3), E901. Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI 10.3390/ijerph17030901

Gasser IntJEnvironResPublicHealth 2020.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (716kB) | Preview

Background: Large technical developments in avalanche transceivers as well as in ski-shoe-binding units should make backcountry skiing a safer sport and as a consequence, yield to a decrease in the number and severity of mountain emergency events. Methods: From 2009-2018, a total of 3044 mountain emergencies (953 females and 2091 males) were identified from the SAC (Swiss Alpine Club) central registry while backcountry skiing. These were classified descriptively by cause, whereby the severity of the mountain emergency was quantified with a NACA-Score (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Score). Results: A total of 1357 falls (44.6%), 558 emergencies caused by avalanches (18.3%), 408 cases of blocking (13.4%), 214 cases of illnesses (7.0%), 202 cases of losing way (6.6%), 138 cases of a crevasse accident (4.5%), and material failure in 30 cases (1%) were registered. For the remaining 137 cases (4.5%), no classification or rare forms were detected. No substantial sex differences were found in severity of injury, however looking at the two endpoints of the observed time frame, a significant increase in NACA-Score from 2009 to 2018 (2.1 ± 1.8 up to 2.6 ± 2.1, p < 0.01) was detected. Conclusions: The increase in the severity of mountain emergencies while backcountry skiing in the last decade might be due to the fact that too many inexperienced absolve backcountry tours. The tendency might be promoted by the improved material in the way that it seems easier to absolve a tour while underestimating potential hazards.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Gasser, Benedikt Andreas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI




Andrea Flükiger-Flückiger

Date Deposited:

13 Feb 2020 16:54

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:36

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

NACA Score Switzerland backcountry skiing severity of injury




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback