Imagine enjoying a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains and suddenly an avalanche upsets the calm. What will you do? Run away because when a white sheet advances at tsunami speed, you wouldn’t want to get pulverised under.
However, mountain-lover and hiker Harry Shimmin wanted to “capture the sound of ice cracking.” He was part of a group of tourists who had a narrow escape when an avalanche came hurling down the Tian Shan mountains in Central Asia as the adventurists were hiking the serene trails last week. The group, nine Britons and one American, were on a guided tour of the highlands in Kyrgyzstan.
The footage was filmed and uploaded to Instagram by Harry Shimmin, from the UK, who said he was taking pictures when he heard the sound of “ice cracking.”
“I left it to the last second to move, and yes I know it would have been safer moving to the shelter right 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 breathe, I was bricking it and I thought I might die.”
The Tian Shan mountains mainly straddle south-eastern Kyrgyzstan and its north-east border with China. They formed part of the ancient Silk Road trading route from the Middle East and Asia to the west.
Shimmin said he knew the rest of his group was further away and so would be safe, and he wrote of feeling “giddy” when he realised he was only covered in light powder “without a scratch”.
They had been due to walk the path of the avalanche shortly afterwards. “We would have only heard the roar before lights out,” he said. According to Shimmin, a few members of the group received light injuries, and an American woman in the party cut her knee to the bone and was taken by horse to a medical centre three hours away. After being stitched up by a doctor and spending time in an emergency ward, she flew home.
Kyrgyzstan’s disappearing glaciers have been described as an urgent problem by the United Nations. In an interview with the Independent in June, Kyrgyzstan’s president, Sadyr Zhaparov, warned about the danger posed by the climate crisis to mountainous countries such as his.
Also Read: Time to Re-Think Cooling Options?