Heavy snow and avalanches led to record mountain rescues in 2021

The number of accidents in the first few months of 2021 exceeded those in 2020 and 2019 during the same period. © Keystone / Anthony Anex

More people found themselves in a precarious situation in the Swiss mountains last year. There were a record number of accidents and rescues, particularly involving snow sports.

This content was published on March 30, 2022 minutes

Despite or perhaps because of the pandemic, many people went in search of fresh air in the Swiss Alps or Jura mountains in 2021. On Wednesday, the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) released annual figures which revealed that 3,680 people fell victim to accidents last year and had to be rescued or recovered in the mountains. This exceeds the previous record of 3,471 in 2020.

The SAC reports that 201 people lost their lives in the Swiss mountains last year as a result of an accident or for health reasons. Among them, 131 people died in classic mountain sports, which includes hang gliding and paragliding, speed flying, base jumping and mountain biking.

There was a significantly lower proportion of foreigners among the victims. In the pre-pandemic years, around 40% were non-Swiss, compared to 30% in 2021 – a total of 39 fatalities. “The reason for this is certainly largely due to the continued reluctance to travel,” writes the SAC.

There were more emergencies than ever in connection with winter sports such as ski touring, off-piste skiing and snowshoeing. Emergencies in January, February and March exceeded those in 2019 and 2020. The SAC attributes this to heavy snowfall and many avalanches in the first part of the year.

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