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2 Afghan Krygyz women collecting water © Beth Wald

Winter in the Afghan Pamirs © Beth Wald. Winner of the 2018 Photo Essay Competition.

Kyrgyz girls in traditional red robes brave frigid temperatures and icy winds as they fill plastic jugs with water at a stream near their family’s winter camp (4,200 metres), and load them on to their donkeys – a cold but necessary daily outing.  All women and girls wear red; after marrying, the red headdress is replaced with a white one. 


Winter in the Afghan Pamirs, Beth Wald

The Afghan Pamir is a high, remote and road-less region at the end of the Wakhan Corridor, where the Afghan Kyrgyz follow a nomadic life, intimately dependent on herds of sheep, yaks and camels for food, transport, fuel and shelter and as trade for other essentials.  In winter, it is a harsh, windswept and mostly monochrome world, brightened by the bright red worn by the women and girls.


Beth Wald is a documentary photographer who creates compelling visual narratives that explore the rich diversity and beauty of natural environments and cultures under threat around the world and tells stories about struggles to save ecosystems, species, ancient knowledge and ways of being, and about our often conflicted relationship with the natural world. She thrives far off the grid, immersed in a place and a culture.  Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian, The New York Times, Outside and many others and she has partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Panthera, Tompkins Conservation, and many organizations. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Rowell Award and POY.   
Instagram: @bethjwald

Find out more about the the Banff Mountain Photo Essay Competition. 

View this photo essay at one of our many free exhibitions during the 2018 Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival in Banff, Alberta. 
Tickets on sale Wednesday, August 1. 


"Beth's photos make the viewer pause, reflect, and ask questions.  The power of her work comes through with careful use of color and composition - resulting in an essay that unfurls a rarely told story from a remote location.  From the provocative synopsis, to each photo, Beth’s work is thoughtful and technically precise. Our imagination was swept away by these wonderful images from the rarely visited Afghan Pamirs, and we were moved by Beth’s ability to connect with these people who still live in a traditional way. "

– 2018 Banff Mountain Photo Essay Jury