When Kiran Shrestha and his friends set out for a serene paddle around Kapuche Glacier Lake in the Annapurna region of central Nepal, it’s safe to say that they didn’t anticipate the hair-raising events that would soon unfold.
After paddling out to a prime position on the lake, Shrestha pulled out his camera to film some selfie-style footage of himself kayaking in its crystal-clear, sapphire waters. In the first few frames, we do witness that serenity that Shrestha was striving to capture. But what followed was, uh, less than calming.
After some selfie moments on the lake, we watch him running up and down the foot of the glacier—which, in itself, was a little concerning. After sussing out the area, he returns to his camp by the lake (on flat ground) and that’s when we see… it.
A colossal white cloud appears at the top of a rocky outcrop. As the cloud quickly grows in size and shape, it becomes evident that we are witnessing a giant avalanche starting from the top of the glacier.
The thundering debris rips down the canyon in a path that uncannily retraces Shrestha’s footsteps from earlier that day. Luckily for Shrestha and his friends, they were now positioned at the opposite side of the lake, back at their camp.
His friends begin hooting and hollering in excitement as the wind picks up and mercilessly launches their tents and belongings into the air as it passes through. The group remained unharmed, as the dangerous debris seemed to halt further up the slope, not quite reaching the lake.
The Kapuche Glacier Lake, only recently opened to the public in the last 3 years, is located about 90 miles northwest of Kathmandu and is located over 8,350 feet above sea level. It is known as the lowest-altitude glacier lake in the world. The area is prone to small-scale, frequent avalanches.
Although no one was hurt during this incident, it still serves as a solid reminder to always do your research when embarking on backcountry trips. Look at weather patterns, recent incidents in the area, and remember that even if you’re not traversing on snow, you could still be traveling past, or recreating within, its runoff path.