High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a Chinese language post by Tibetan photographer Namkhar and distributed via a WeChat channel called MiPai on April 5, 2017.
The WeChat channel introduces the post by saying, “Photographer Namkhar travelled to Niubei Mountain over the Tomb-Sweeping Festival holiday and decided to share his thoughts upon his return.”
The post is image heavy and a general plea to the backpacker and outdoors community to be mindful of littering. Niubei Mountain is situated in Sichuan Province at the gateway to Kham between Ya’an (Yak nga) and Luding (Chakzam) in Kardze Prefecture.
The post is reminiscent of last year’s article, “Tibetans, I Ask You to Go On Pilgrimage In A Civilised Manner!” by Reba Gerong Tsering which also contained many shocking pictures of rubbish at sacred pilgrimage routes and destinations.
The Shocking State of Niubei Mountain Captured by My Camera Lens!
I know that this piece will create some negative impact for the club and for some of my friends, it might even directly impact the later developments of our Crazy Horse Photography Club. But after I returned from my trip to Niubei mountain over the Tomb-Sweeping Festival holiday this year, there are some things that I have to simply get off my chest.
I have been to Niubei Mountain eight times; the beauty, the sea of clouds, the starry sky, the sunrise, the Buddhist aura, all these things have attracted many hobby photographers and Buddhist backpackers to come here on a pilgrimage. But there is one thing that has been tormenting me and I have previously revealed it on my homepage, but because I am not famous enough, it did not attract much attention. So when I went back to Niubei Mountain this time and once again saw this shocking scenery, I just could not hold back.
I didn’t discuss with anyone that I was going to write this article. The people working at the top of the mountain had good intentions when they advised me that “you don’t gain anything from exposing this situation”. I of course know this, and I am fully aware that many people will start doubting me and that I might even lose some good friends. But I cannot bear to be faced with this collective irresponsibility of an entire group of people! In case people will call me names, let me tell you this: well, if you think that by criticising uncivilised behaviour I am a “nationalistic angry youth” or a “sanctimonious bitch”, well Then! I! Am! And I don’t regret it!
What do people imagine Niubei Mountain to look like?
A sea of clouds?
The golden mountain peak?
A river of stars?
Indeed, this is the Niubei Mountain that I captured with my lens, it is also what has attracted me there again and again.
But have you seen the other side of Niubei Mountain?
I am not aiming at anyone in particular, what I am trying to say is that all those backpackers who randomly litter and throw away their rubbish are part of the problem!
We backpackers, photographers have carried heavy equipment across many mountains and rivers. But can’t we also carry a light plastic bag, a can or an alpine gas canister? As an outdoor photographer, I of course understand that these things are vital to survive. But wouldn’t it be possible to take the remains along? You are capable of carrying extremely heavy things, but you are not able to also take this tiny bit of rubbish? You don’t like dirt? Well, in that way it wouldn’t look dirty!
Are you only exploiting the benefits of Niubei Mountain, while turning a blind eye to its sore and pus-filled wound?
Also, those of you who used to and are running guest houses at the mountain peak, have you ever thought about where all the rubbish laying around should go? I think you have not; in the presence of lucrative benefits, you all choose to become blind!
A single snowflake in an avalanche never feels guilty. Everyone has this attitude, but there is only this one Niubei Mountain, there is only this one earth; and they are sick. We outdoor people all say that we adore nature, adore the earth’s mountains and rivers, but we don’t treasure them, the respective departments don’t fulfil their duties and many local people are not even conscious of it.
I have met many fellow Tibetans in different parts of Tibet who randomly throw away cans and plastic bags at the foot of their own sacred mountains. I have met some other fellow backpackers who would wrap up all their camping rubbish and throw it into a groundhog hole. And these are by no means individual cases.
A photo I took at the east side of Mount Everest, it is the Tsoshutrima camping ground.
Gas cans left by backpackers at the Karma Gorka camping ground
You see beauty, I see desolation.
I wrote this piece out of helplessness; our living standards have improved, our bodies have evolved into human beings, but our behaviour and practice is no different from that of domestic animals.
Our Crazy Horse Photography Club is not very powerful; what I, Namkhar, can do is to try and go to many places and document these situations and to then, within my capabilities, take as much rubbish down the mountains as I can.
Now that I have written this much, I feel more calm and think that perhaps simply blaming is a little too extreme. If a large group acts irresponsibly, it would be unfair if a small group has to correct the mistakes.
So I truly hope that all of us can genuinely cherish this place that provides for our existence, I hope that we are really able to walk on white snow and dried leaves and that our children will encounter a clean and beautiful world.
I don’t dare to ask everyone to follow me in my pursuit, I only really hope that all of you, for your own sake, will stop littering and randomly throwing rubbish away! Leave some space for your children!
But of course, I would welcome anyone to join me and bring down as much rubbish as we can. And whatever we cannot take, we can at least document.
If you are ready, I will travel over land and water to stand by your side, you just need to be ready.
This post is also available in: English