Death of young trekkers in Vellingiri hills highlights need for preparations, precautions

Published - March 11, 2024 09:10 pm IST - COIMBATORE

Pilgrims trekking Vellingiri hills near Poondi in Coimbatore district.

Pilgrims trekking Vellingiri hills near Poondi in Coimbatore district. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The death of two youngsters in their 20s while trekking the Vellingiri hills near Coimbatore during the ongoing pilgrimage season highlights preparations and precautions to avert untoward incidents.

On February 26, a 22-year-old youth from Sholingur in Vellore district died while ascending the sixth hill. On Sunday, a 21-year-old youth from Koderi in the Nilgiris, who had been residing in Coimbatore, developed breathlessness at the fifth hill and died later.

According to L. Fredrick of Coimbatore-based Mountaineering and Adventure Sports Society (Mass) India, Vellingiri hills is one of the most difficult trekking routes in Tamil Nadu. Taking adequate preparations will help pilgrims have a safe trekking experience.

“Vellingiri hills, which comprises seven hills, has steep gradients at several places. A trend seen nowadays is that youths go in large numbers to the place without preparations after watching videos of vloggers. Such people struggle during the trek,” he said.

The summit at the seventh hill, where Lord Shiva in Swayambhu (self-manifested form) is worshipped, is situated at a height of 1,850 metres (MSL)

“People who do not engage in physical activities like exercising, jogging or playing games must be cautious while trekking. Taking adequate rest after trekking a certain distance and keeping the body hydrated will ease the trekking,” added Fredrick.

J.S. Bhuvaneswaran, Medical Director, PSG Hospitals, Coimbatore, said sudden cardiac arrest could occur when one had unknown or known cardiac conditions, which aggravated when he or she engaged in unaccustomed exercise like a difficult trekking.

“People with congenital cardiac conditions, those with unknown heart problems and those who have not fully recovered from illnesses like a flu (because they affect the heart) can develop sudden cardiac arrest when they engage in high intensity exercise like climbing a mountain,” he said.

District Forest Officer N. Jayaraj said the Department staff advised pilgrims to avoid the trek if they had health issues, including cardiac conditions, before the 6.5 km-long trekking started near the Vellingiri Andavar temple at Poondi. Aged persons were also advised by the staff of the risks.

Deputy Director of Health Services P. Aruna said the Health Department had set up a medical camp at the foothills. The staff, who worked in two shifts, advised pilgrims before the trekking and check them in the event of health issues. They also advised the pilgrims to take adequate precautions while trekking the hills during the day in view of the rising temperature level. The Department had also stationed an ambulance at the downhill to handle emergencies, she said.

According to T. Suseendranath, Forest Range Officer of Boluvampatti range, Forest Department staff are stationed at the downhill, along the trekking route and at the summit to handle the pilgrim inflow.

As per a recent direction of the Madras High Court, pilgrims can climb the hills from February to May every year.

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