Tourists survive huge avalanche in Kyrgyzstan

(CNN) — A group of tourists hiking in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains survived a huge avalanche that ran over them on Friday.

One of the hikers, Britain’s Harry Shimmin, managed to capture on video the moment snow sloughed off a mountaintop in the distance, before covering the slope and engulfing the group.

Just as he had just reached the highest point of the hike, Shimmin separated from the group to take photos of the scenery when he suddenly heard “the sound of deep ice cracking behind him,” according to the video’s caption. posted on Instagram.

“I left it to the last second to move, and yes I know it would have been safer to move to the shelter right away,” she wrote in the post.

“I am well aware that I took a huge risk. I felt like I was in control, but despite everything, when the snow started to come and it got darker/hard to breathe, I was terrified and thought I might die.”

“When we came back together (with the group), almost everyone was crying with happiness to be alive,” Shimmin, a UK Army officer, told CNN.

The group consisted of nine British tourists and one American, as well as three guides and two horsemen.

Shimmin told CNN the American hiker seriously injured her knee. Tour guides took her on horseback to a medical center near a gold mine, before she was sent to the United States for treatment.

“I had seen much smaller avalanches before, and videos of other avalanches, but honestly my first thought was, ‘Let’s see if I can get a good video of this,'” he told CNN. “She got to me a lot quicker than I expected.”

The 27-year-old’s apparent calm about this near-death experience may be explained by his other hobbies: Shimmin holds the record for the most back somersaults in a parachute jump, 19 in total, according to Guinness World Records.

“I have some experience in hiking and I am very fond of snow sports,” he told CNN. Shimmin said he had completed avalanche training on two separate occasions, once as part of a para-ski course, and once to become a ski instructor.

“Avalanche training didn’t do any good,” he joked, saying he will continue his passion for extreme travel experiences.

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