High in the foothills of the Tian Shan Mountains in remote Kyrgyzstan the air is as clean as just about anywhere on Earth, the sense of freedom and escape from the mundanities of everyday life is inescapable, and the views are what the term jaw-dropping was invented for. But for ten outdoor-loving hikers on a guided tour of the region, those benefits almost came at the ultimate cost when an enormous avalanche erupted not far from their location.
Avalanches are an unstoppable force of nature and one of the biggest risks to mountain adventurers.
The group of ten – nine Britons and one American – were taking a guided tour in the region that straddles the border between the southeastern tip of Kyrgyzstan and northwestern China. Having just reached the highest point in the trek one of the group, Brit Harry Shimmin, strolled away from the rest of the group to take some pictures from the top of the cliff when he heard in the distance “the sound of deep ice cracking behind me.”
At this point, Shimmin hit the record button and watched the might of Mother Nature unfold before him, initially in the far distance before getting all too close for comfort – all the while keeping a truly remarkable level of composure as the wall of snow careered towards him. Shimmin shared his video in Instagram and YouTube posts that have brought about comments of awe, terror and, inevitably, criticism that he didn’t turn and hightail it out of there.
“As I was there for a few minutes already, I knew there was a spot right next to me to shelter. I was on a cliff edge, so the only place to run was towards the avalanche and away from the shelter next to me (hence why I don’t move).” Knowing the rest of the group was further away from the unfolding carnage and likely safer than he was, he kept his focus and very steady camera-holding hand firmly on the avalanche until the last possible moment. “Yes I left it to the last second to move, and yes I know it would have been safer moving to the shelter straight away. I’m very aware that I took a huge risk. Regardless, when the snow started coming over …….