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July 31, 2021

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Indispensable lifeline for those climbing mighty Xinjiang peak

BIKMIRZA Turdil, a 24-year-old Kirghiz herdsman, was born and raised at the foot of Muztagh Ata, a peak with an elevation of more than 7,500 meters, in the Pamirs of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

He started to work as a guide helping climbers carry equipment and supplies at the age of 18. Climbing Muztagh Ata, a symbol of bravery, is regarded as the coming-of-age ceremony for local youngsters.

In Subax Village where Bikmirza lives, more than 100 locals provide guide services for mountaineers from home and abroad. When climbing to a high altitude, it’s easy for mountaineers to get lost. Even worse, raging blizzards and frigid temperatures may befall them at any time.

“We will spare no effort to rescue whoever is in danger,” said Bikmirza.

“I’m also proud to give in-time instructions and ease burdens on the climbers’ shoulders, a way to keep them going,” he said, noting that he used to carry bags weighing up to 40 kilograms on his back.

Strong and experienced, Bikmirza and his peers, with inborn adaptabilities to the harsh environment, have gradually become indispensable for people who embark on expeditions.

The golden season for local mountaineering lasts from mid-June to late August, and guides can usually earn between 20,000 (US$3,100) and 50,000 yuan during that time.

Before the mountaineering season, Bikmirza trains by commuting between base camp and a height of more than 5,000 meters several times a week. Even though he has helped many mountaineers reach as high as 6,200 meters, Bikmirza is still eager to reach the top of the mountain.

“I’ve bought a car and a house in nearby Akto County, and I’ll have enough savings to back up my dream soon,” he grinned.


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