Still of a video showing an avalanche sweeping over a hiker
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Terrifying Video Shows Avalanche Overtaking Hikers

What's it like to experience a potentially life-threatening natural disaster? Unless you experience it firsthand, it's impossible to describe.

That said, a dramatic video of an avalanche in Central Asia gives us a first-person look at a massive cascade of snow bearing down on a hiker.

Long story short: the hiker is safe and the video is awesome, but it's still a reminder of the awesome power of nature.

Mountain ranges are dangerous places.

Mountain climber looking at a mountain
Unsplash | Patrik László

Even if you're not climbing mountains, just being in the mountains carries an enormous degree of risk. Hikers can be struck by falling rocks or ice, they could slip and fall off of a ledge and, of course, there are the age-old problems posed by avalanches.

The video was shot in the Tian Shan.

The Tian Shan mountain range
Wikimedia Commons | Chen Zhao

The Tian Shan, which means Mountains of Heaven, is a range of mountains in Central Asia, spanning the countries of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. While the peaks aren't as tall as those found in the Himalayas to the south, there are still some massive mountains in the range.

Hiker Harry Shimmin shot this dramatic video.

Still of a video showing an avalanche sweeping over a hiker
youtube | TODAY

Shimmin was on a guided tour of the Tian Shan in Kyrgyzstan when his group heard the sound of cracking ice.

"This is where the video starts," he wrote. "I'd been there for a few minutes already so I knew there was a spot for shelter right next to me."

The camera zooms out.

Still of a video showing an avalanche sweeping over a hiker
youtube | TODAY

While the initial frames show a big cascade of show, Shimmin zooms out, revealing the true scope of the avalanche. There was nowhere he could run in order to escape the avalanche, and he appeared to be on higher ground at the time.

The snow grows closer and closer.

Still of a video showing an avalanche sweeping over a hiker
youtube | TODAY

It's at about this point that it becomes clear the higher ground isn't going to stop the avalanche. The leading edge of the avalanche crests over a ridge and heads right for the position of Shimmin and his camera.

He puts up his hand to brace for impact.

Still of a video showing an avalanche sweeping over a hiker
youtube | TODAY

Just before Shimmin ducks behind the rocks, you can see the milliseconds before the avalanche overtakes him. It's truly unnerving to witness even in video form, and must have been downright terrifying in person.

He ducks behind rocks and the avalanche passes overhead.

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"Behind the rock it was like being in a blizzard," Shimmin wrote. "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."

All's well that ends well.

In a follow-up post, Shimmin offered an update on his fellow hikers and their close call. He also thanked his new followers, as the dramatic video has brought him all kinds of viral internet fame.

Here's the full video.

It's a powerful reminder of the destructive power posed by an avalanche, and in a more general source, the power of nature itself.

Check out the video, then let us know your thoughts in the comments section.