Mountain cleaners answer a higher calling

Dedicated team ensures that prime tourist spot retains its pristine character

China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-20 10:18
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Sanitation workers He Dejun (left) and He Xinglan collect rubbish from the Yulong Snow Mountain Glacier Park.[Photo provided by Jin Liwang/Chen Xinbo/Xinhua]

As gusts lash Yulong Snow Mountain in Yunnan province, Lyu Haowei starts work at an altitude of around 4,500 meters, cleaning a scenic spot noted for its appeal.

Equipped with a 150-meter safety rope, a clamp and a trash bag, Lyu negotiates steps leading up the mountain and then uses the rope to access otherwise inaccessible areas, where rubbish has been discarded. He and his colleagues are stationed at the scenic spot.

As he deals with challenges, such as the thin air and often relentless rain, Lyu must concentrate on the glaciers below him and the surrounding sheer cliffs.

Lyu collects discarded bottles and oxygen tanks left by tourists, with his colleagues holding the safety rope and under their direction.

Yulong Snow Mountain covers an area of 415 square kilometers and rises to a peak of 5,596 meters. Designated as a national key scenic spot in 1988, it was given recognition as a 5A-level scenic area in 2007.

During the past decades of development, the number of tourists visiting the mountain had surged from 4,700 in 1994 to 3.76 million in 2017. In 2018, the Yulong Snow Mountain Glacier Park authorities had to implement a daily visitor cap of 10,000 people.

The increasing tourist numbers sometimes result in trash piling up.

During peak travel periods, like the weeklong National Day holiday in October, sanitation workers and guardians fill nearly 200 outdoor trash bags a day.

Their day begins at 5:30 am in preparation for welcoming the first wave of visitors eager to see the sunrise, and ends at 7:30 pm when they descend the mountain, after an arduous shift.

Usually working alongside Lyu are one or two other colleagues, who also have to navigate challenging conditions, including the high altitude, oxygen depletion, steep terrain and bad weather.

Meanwhile, sanitation workers like He Dejun and his team are responsible for the daily maintenance of walkways and viewing platforms. After it has been picked up, the trash is packed and transported down the mountain.

This is the eighth year that Lyu and He are working at the scenic spot, and they express satisfaction that environmental awareness among tourists has risen, which has led to a reduction in littering.

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