The annual Accidents in North American Mountaineering is required reading, full stop. Calling it the Darwin Awards of climbing is unkind, yet unfortunately accurate in the sense that most accidents are the results of poor decision making. The truth is we all exercise poor judgement to some degree, in some situations, some of the time, usually when we're tired, inexperienced or just plain not paying attention, and on a good day we live to tell about it. Books like this give us insight into what the consequences could have been on a different day, serving as a valuable reminder to wear a helmet, tie a knot in the end of your rope when rappelling, and generally fight natural selection with alertness, education and solid preparation before ever leaving town.
The 2011 edition calls out rappel and lowering errors once again: "Aside from once again seeing too many belay and rappel errors, it was a year with some major events. Among them: another runaway sled incident on the Kahiltna Glacier – resulting in a fatality; an avalanche in the Ruth Gorge that resulted in the death of two experienced climbers; a HACE fatality on Mount Shasta; a rappel rigging error by an experienced climber on Serenity Crack in Yosemite; the aggressive and tenacious French climber on the Salathe Wall of El Capitan who did not give up on his grievously injured partner; the lead climber in American Fork, Utah, who was pulled off by his belayer due to, among other matters, mis-communication; the eleven climbers who ignored the avalanche conditions on the Ingraham Direct, Mount Rainier, and were partly buried as a result; and the 17 climbers struck by lightning on the Grand Teton in August."
The 2011 edition includes something we'd like to see a lot more of, an illustration, in this case of the Serenity Crack rappel rigging. Stories in the 2011 edition are from the 2010 climbing season, and so miss a full big mountain season. ANAM is such an amazing resource, yet it could be even more useful if it were delivered in a more timely fashion, e.g. a blog. In the book format there is the opportunity to expand the executive summary section at the beginning to focus more attention on trends and issues. In any case, it's always worth the read. There but for the grace of God…
It's so inexpensive, buy a couple for your friends and take advantage of the free shipping, or combine it with another great Mountaineers Books title.