Body of missing ‘glacier chaser’ influencer Wang Xiangjun who documented impacts of climate change found by police in Tibet

Phoebe Zhang
·3-min read

Tibetan police announced they believe they have found the body of internet influencer “glacier chaser” Wang Xiangjun, who went missing while visiting a glacier last year.

Local police in Lhari County revealed a body was found on Sunday in a notice posted today on Wechat.

“After initial investigations, the body seems to be that of missing person Wang Xiangjun. We are in the process of further identifying the body according to legal procedures,” the notice said.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

Tibetan police announced they believe they have found the body Wang. Photo: Wang Xiangjun
Tibetan police announced they believe they have found the body Wang. Photo: Wang Xiangjun

In December, Wang’s younger brother logged onto his Kuaishou video streaming account and told the public his brother had fallen into a glacier.

“My brother is staying in his favorite waterfall. I hope you won’t go there and make a fuss, please respect the dead,” he said.

“He has been obsessed with glaciers all his life, and dedicated his life to it. That’s his best place to be,” he said.

Wang amassed more than six million social media followers with his photos and videos of glaciers in China. Photo: Wang Xiangjun
Wang amassed more than six million social media followers with his photos and videos of glaciers in China. Photo: Wang Xiangjun

Wang was born in 1990, in Guangan, southwest China’s Sichuan province, to farmer parents. In 2010, he went to work at a factory in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong province.

Bored with regular work he quit within six months but was then pushed by his parents to take up work at Apple supplier Foxconn in Shenzhen.

He quit after nine days at Foxconn and cut off all contact with his parents. He bought a train ticket to Guangxi, then to Yunnan, working at restaurants for short periods to save up.

Over the following years he swam in the Lancang River, backpacked through a rainforest, saw a volcano mouth, and eventually climbed the Yulong mountain where he saw his first glacier.

Wang turned his back on a life of drudgery and travelled China documenting the decline of the country’s glaciers. Photo: Wang Xiangjun
Wang turned his back on a life of drudgery and travelled China documenting the decline of the country’s glaciers. Photo: Wang Xiangjun

It was a life-changing experience.

In 2012 he bought a train ticket to Tibet, visited several cities, working while traveling and chasing glaciers.

“It’s frightening and exciting at the same time. Sometimes, you could walk alongside a river for four days, the glacier is at the end,” he said.

Wang was reported missing while visiting a glacier in Tibet. Photo: Wang Xiangjun
Wang was reported missing while visiting a glacier in Tibet. Photo: Wang Xiangjun

He bought a new camera and went anywhere in Tibet where the map showed a glacier. He always had to get a closer look. During his travels he has met wolf packs and bears.

He said he had seen documentaries online that showed glaciers melting and believed it was his duty to film them.

On his Kuaishou and Douyin — China’s Tik Tok — accounts, where he had close to 6 million fans, he published videos of himself climbing glaciers and jumping around. Sometimes he had a friend with him, sometimes he had his dog, Potato.

“How magical this colour looks, how dreamy, it’s almost like a glazed tile,” he said in one of the videos, pointing to a glacier.

Fans paid tribute to Wang online after his body was found: Wang Xiangjun
Fans paid tribute to Wang online after his body was found: Wang Xiangjun

In seven years he traveled to more than 70 glaciers. He has visited some several times and reported finding them smaller each time.

In 2019, he spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain, introducing himself as a “photographer from Sichuan”. He shared photos and videos he took over the years, calling for people to protect the planet and stop climate change.

After he went missing, fans paid tribute on his social media pages and went through his old videos, reviewing his lifetime of adventures.

One of the glaciers visited by Wang. Photo: Wang Xiangjun
One of the glaciers visited by Wang. Photo: Wang Xiangjun

“You loved nature but died in nature,” one said on Douyin.

“Rest in peace in the glaciers that you love so much,” another said.

More from South China Morning Post:

This article Body of missing ‘glacier chaser’ influencer Wang Xiangjun who documented impacts of climate change found by police in Tibet first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.