A British tourist videotaping the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan barely escaped with his life when an avalanche roared down upon him and his fellow group of tourists taking a guided tour.
The Tian Shan mountains lie between Kyrgyzstan and China and once served as part of the ancient Silk Road trading route. The highest peak in the Tian Shan mountain range, Jengish Chokusu, reaches roughly 24,400 feet above sea level.
Harry Shimmin, the British tourist who took the astonishing video, noted that he was traveling with eight other Britons and one American on the tour, adding that they had “reached the highest point in the trek and I separated from the group to take pictures on top of a hill/cliff edge.”
“While I was taking pictures I heard the sound of deep ice cracking behind me,” he continued on Instagram. “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,” he confessed. “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.”
Shimmin recalled that once he hid behind the rock as the avalanche crashed over him, “it was like being inside a blizzard.”
After rejoining the other tourists he was relieved to find them safe although one woman’s knee suffered a gash requiring her to ride a horse to the nearest medical facility.
“It was only later we realized just how lucky we’d been,” he admitted. “If we had walked 5 minutes further on our trek, we would all be dead. 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. 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.”
Check out this incredible avalanche footage from the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan. Luckily, everyone survived. Account: https://t.co/amo4Bh6z8I pic.twitter.com/WQumCfelgz
— Everest Today (@EverestToday) July 10, 2022
Shimmin, who is listed by Guinness World Records as the world-record-holder for the most backwards somersaults in a sky dive, told CNN that before the avalanche incident he has completed avalanche training.
“The avalanche training didn’t help!” he concluded.