Watch: Caught in a Massive Avalanche in the Tian Shan

When was the last time you stood below an avalanche and steeled your nerve to keep the camera rolling — even as it enveloped you?

One hiker in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan did exactly that. According to Harry Shimmin, he heard “the sound of deep ice cracking” nearby while hiking with a group of nine others on a guided tour in the range.

Soon, a cloud of ice, rock, and snow started cascading toward them from a ridgeline above. Then it started to become obvious that Shimmin wouldn’t get away.

Taking stock of his surroundings, he realized the safest thing he could do was stay put. So he did, and trained his camera on the onrushing deluge.

Shimmin’s report is thorough, and his hand proved steady. Watch it all play out here. Spoiler alert: everyone involved survived, but only by a matter of a few minutes of hiking.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.