CHANGSHA, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) — Pulling a rope from the top of a hill while equipped with a helmet and other safety gear, Chen Huaxin climbed over a guardrail at the peak and slowly slid down back to the valley.
Surrounded by cliffs with winds roaring over, Chen observed his surroundings carefully while in the air. Once he spotted a “target,” the 40-year-old man deftly steps on a cliff protrusion to halt the descent and takes out a long-handled picker to put the trash into his backpack.
Chen, a rescue worker in Huangshi Village, Wulingyuan scenic area in central China’s Hunan Province, often helps pick up cliff garbage with his colleagues besides their regular work, aiming for targets including waste paper, plastic bags and beverage bottles.
Some unique pillar-like formations and floating mountains in Wulingyuan, which has been included on the World Natural Heritage List of UNESCO, are the prototypes of Hollywood blockbuster Avatar World, where Chen and other members of the mountain emergency rescue team now play the role of “beauticians,” working to present a favorable environment for global tourists.
“We would shoulder 10 to 20 kg of equipment including ropes, helmets and headlights when performing the tasks among the mountains,” Chen said, adding that the team members would remind each other of safety precautions, wear safety belts, arrange safety systems and command operations by radio throughout the whole process.
Li Jinju is among the 29 females of the 69-member team. “With canyons at the foot and behind, it’s hard not to be nervous ‘hanging’ in such a high place.”
Recalling the first time she walked off the cliff more than two years ago, the 52-year-old rescuer said she grabbed the rope tightly and moved down bit by bit. “There were loose pebbles on the cliffs, and I would break out in a cold sweat whenever stepping onto them accidentally.”
“I was too anxious and my mind often went blank in the air, leaving behind every single skill I learned,” she said. “It was the coach’s guidance and the patient encouragement of my peers that calmed me down.”
Li admits that she once thought about giving up. “But I would take the initiative to sign up for every task because I think it’s my responsibility to make the environment better. Also, the team needs us — the meticulous and attentive nature of female members can complement the physical advantages of the male ones and contribute to better team cooperation.”
The team members are often nicknamed by tourists and local residents as “spidermen” as they can climb over the cliffs or “red men” for their red uniforms.
“It is really something that they take risks to maintain the sanitary environment of the scenic spot,” said tourist Guo Yu, who watched the team as the members swang between the cliffs while looking back at the ropes tied to the thick tree trunks.
“Wulingyuan is the commonwealth of the whole humankind,” said Chen Huajie, head of the team. “We hope to call on more people to jointly protect the scenic environment through our concrete efforts.”