BRITISH adventurer Harry Shimmin has told of a narrow escape when a party he was hiking with in central Asia was engulfed by a thundering avalanche.
The 27-year-old captured the terrifying moments on video as he and nine other hikers scrambled for shelter as the ‘wall of snow’ crashed over them in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountain range.
The dramatic scenes were posted to Mr Shimmin’s Instagram account with a full description of the unfolding incident.
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He begins the caption by describing how the party heard “the sound of deep ice cracking” before it began quickly sliding, then breaking up and rolling towards them.
Holding his nerve, the Isle of Man native heads for the shelter of some nearby rocks while continuing to film the ferocious charge of the avalanche.
“We’d just reached the highest point in the trek and I separated from the group to take pictures on top of a hill/cliff edge,” he explains.
“While I was taking pictures I heard the sound of deep ice cracking behind me. This is where the video starts. I’d been there for a few minutes already so I knew there was a spot for shelter right next to me.
“I was on a cliff edge, so I could only run away from the shelter (hence why I don’t move). 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. 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 added that sheltering behind the rock with the snow and ice crashing around him was akin to being in the centre of a blizzard.
“Once it was over the adrenaline rush hit me hard,” he continued.
“I was only covered in a small layer of snow, without a scratch. When I re-joined the group I could see they were all safe, although one had cut her knee quite badly (she rode one of the horses to the nearest medical facility). Another had fallen off a horse and sustained some light bruising.”
As they regrouped to check everyone was safe and unharmed, Mr Shimmin described how the emotion of such a remarkable escape quickly came to the surface.
“The whole group was laughing and crying, happy to be alive (including the girl who cut her knee). It was only later we realised just how lucky we’d been,” he said.
“If we had walked five minutes further on our trek, we would all be dead. The trail we were supposed to take went right through the path of avalanche.
“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. 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.”
The two people who sustained minor injuries were treated at a local hospital.