Manxies at Heart of Avalance Press Storm

It’s a clip that has gone around the world and it originated right here in the Isle of Man.

The video of Harry Shimmin darting into a cave to protect himself as an avalanche comes rolling down upon him has made him a household name and even seen him appear on This Morning.

He was joined on the hike by friends Katie Christian and Sarah Allen, as part of a group of tourists.

The avalanche itself happened on Friday July 8, at about 2.45 in the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan.

In a post on his Instagram, Harry said: ‘We’d just 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. 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. 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. 

‘Behind the rock it was like being inside a blizzard. Once it was over the adrenaline rush hit me hard. I was only covered in a small layer of snow, without a scratch. When I re-joined the group I could see they were all safe, although one had cut her knee quite badly (she rode one of the horses to the nearest medical facility). Another had fallen off a horse and sustained some light bruising. 

‘The whole group was laughing and crying, happy to be alive (including the girl who cut her knee). It was only later we realised just how lucky we’d been. If we had walked 5 minutes further on our trek, we would all be dead. The trail we were suppose to take went right through the path of avalanche. 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.’

He later added: ‘I won’t lie, it was harrowing to walk through the aftermath of where we would have been if we were 5 minutes quicker. I stared at the roof of my tent for longer than I care to admit that night. Very very glad everyone survived without super serious injuries. 

‘Our group are all safe, however the American lady who cut her knee (to the bone) has spent some time in hospital. After the avalanche she spent 3hrs on a horse to the medical centre of a nearby gold mine and got stitched by a doctor there. She was then in ER for a while in a local hospital. She’s since flown back to the US.’

Friend Ruairi Poole tweeted: ‘One sec he’s near death and the next he’s interviewed live by Alison and Dermot. Thank god for the Regaby Royal flying the Manx flag in Kyrgyzstan.’