Fatalities and injuries recorded in Slovak mountains

IN THE SLOVAK mountains, a total of 152 injuries were recorded by the Mountain rescue Service (HZS) between December 23 and January 4, of which seven were fatal. Six more took place on the Polish side of the Tatras.

Mountains are tricky, especially in winter. Mountains are tricky, especially in winter. (Source: SITA)

This number is very high and alarming, head of the HZS Jozef Janiga said on January 4, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “A common feature of all of them is slipping and then falling. We do not know the precise cause of the slips…but what can be said for sure is that a long, uncontrollable fall mostly ending in a rocky brush or among rocks is the common feature.”

The hiking trails still open and passable are covered with a layer of ice and snow; so at least walking sticks and climbing crampons are recommended by rescuers. Tourists on hiking trails are relatively safe, but the situation in free terrain is worse, according to the rescuers. They also said that conditions are excellent for experienced climbers, but even they can slip and fall, and so for them, too, good-quality equipment and belaying is the only way to avoid accidents and injuries. The worst groups are ski-alpinists and pseudo-climbers who may even have quality equipment but do not know how to use it properly, and when entering winter mountains can suffer many serious and dramatic injuries.

As for mountains, the Low Tatras are not suitable now for ski-alpinism, while Malá and Veľká Fatra are ideal for winter hiking. In the High Tatras, conditions are good for ski-Alpinism but the surface is icy and potentially dangerous; as it is in the Western Tatras, where the first fatal accident in the Slovak mountains took place on January 1.

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