More mountain rescues than ever in 2020

Hiking through canton Glarus, eastern Switzerland. Keystone / Arno Balzarini

Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions, 2020 was a record year for rescue missions in the Swiss Alps and Jura mountain ranges.

This content was published on March 10, 2021

A total of 3,471 people last year got into difficulty and had to be rescued, said the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) on Tuesday. That’s compared with 2,909 the year before.

Of this total, the SAC said, around half were hikers. The other half were doing sports including mountain biking, ski touring, base jumping, or paragliding.

1,172 of the total were rescued unharmed or with just minor injuries. Some 180 people died, either as a result of an accident or for other health reasons (e.g. heart attack).

Although the pandemic and related restrictions clearly didn’t bring down the overall numbers, the SAC did say that last year’s lockdown in Spring led to a decrease in accidents specifically related to ski touring.

Meanwhile, travel restrictions also presumably influenced the number of non-Swiss coming to grief: whereas in previous years they made up around 40% of victims, last year their share dropped to 27%.

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