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 takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.