Harry Shimmin was among a group of 10 hikers on a tour of the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan when he managed to capture video of an avalanche that eventually buried him under snow and ice.
Shimmin shared the footage on Instagram Monday, explaining that he and the group had just reached the highest point of their trek when he decided to briefly break away from everyone to snap a few photos of the scenery. After standing on a cliff edge for a few minutes, he recalls hearing the sound of deep ice cracking.
The video starts from there, showing a wall of ice speeding down a mountain and heading in his direction. Shimmin mentioned there was a place right next to him that could serve as shelter, which is what allowed him to stay put for so long. “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 big risk,” he wrote.
Shimmin described the near-death experience of being trapped under the snow and trying to get out. “I felt in control, but regardless, when the snow started coming over and it got dark / harder to breath, I was bricking it and thought I might die,” he wrote. “Behind the rock it was like being inside a blizzard. Once it was over the adrenaline rush hit me hard. I was only covered in a small layer of snow, without a scratch. I felt giddy.”
Once he got out and reunited with his group, Shimmin said he saw a woman cut her knee pretty badly and another suffered light bruising after falling off a horse. Despite the injuries sustained by members of the group, everyone later realized how fortunate they are to still be alive.
“If we had walked 5 minutes further on our trek, we would all be dead,” Shimmin wrote. “If you look carefully in the video, you can see the faint grey trail winding through the grass. That was the path.”
“We traversed it afterwards, walking among massive ice boulders and rocks that had been thrown much further than we could have run, even if we acted immediately,” he added. “To make it worse, the path runs alongside a low ridge, hiding the mountain from view, so we would have only heard the roar before lights out.”
He’s lucky to be alive.