Adventurous duo of man, daughter

Adventurous duo of man, daughter

Adventurous duo of man, daughter
Unique adventures have a common factor--there is an identifiable and perfect starting point. A south Chennai man and his daughter have taken up several mountaineering adventures with ease.

R Thirulogachandran and his11-year-old daughter Charumathi T, a class six student of Shri Natesan Vidyasala, from Manimangalam village near Chennai, have scaled dizzy heights by climbing more than 18,000 feet high peak in Gangotri mountain range. “It is a record in the mountaineering field,” says Thirulogachandran, a qualified mountaineering instructor and the first Indian to win a silver medal in Tenzing Hillary Mt Everest Marathon 2004, in Nepal.

Charumathi, who had been a part of several trekking  camps, is preparing for a mountaineering expedition at Mt Kilimanjaro very soon. For her, the father is the mentor and the coach.

Thirulogachandran started his adventure during college days between 1992 and 1995. “My life totally changed after I got a sponsorship  through the National Cadet Corps for undergoing basic mountaineering course in Himachal Pradesh,” he said.

After that there was no stopping Thirulogachandran's adventures. He attended advanced trekking course in Darjeeling for sharpening his skills and he did it after his marriage. After scaling 15,500 feet Mt Nehru in west Sikkim, he went on to trek 22,000 ft Mt Jonali in Gangotri group.

The 42-year-old also reached the top of Mt Everest base, Mt Kalapatthar, Lama Wangden and Rudugaira in Uttarakhand. For his adventure, he discovered his new partner after he noticed his daughter, who climbed a chair to reach the dining table top with ease at the age of just three years.

Quickly realising that his daughter is following in his footsteps, Thirulogachandran started giving Charumathi basic training in mountaineering. “I do not remember anything what I did at that age. However, I remember at the age of five my father would take me to a hillock near my house and would explain how to climb,” Charumathi recollected.

“I trained my daughter right from her childhood in trekking. I taught her the basic skills of climbing which she grasped very well,” the father said. According to him, weather conditions at high altitudes are extremely cold. In such conditions, iodine content will be less and people usually develop thyroid problems. “Besides, oxygen level is also less. So, we have to do regular breathing exercises to sustain on the mountains,” he said. Thirulogachandran's first expedition with his daughter was in 2015 where the duo conquered Mt Rudugaira Peak in Gangotri Mountain Range, which is about 18,700 feet.

“With that achievement, she became the youngest girl mountain climber in India who has trekked up to 5,700 metres (18,700 feet) height in below-12 years category,” he said.

Charumathi said that they climb for the challenge. They also enjoy  travelling to new places, meeting people and experiencing the beauty of nature. “We also enjoy the chance to be together,” she added.

Charumathi gives simple training to other students in her school. “My next big expedition will be to climb Mt Everest base camp and Mt Kalapathar peak in November,” she said.

As the pressure to do well in school continues, Thirulogachandran realises that the time spent with her daughter before they embark on adventure is invaluable. Thirulogachandran said technology has paved the way for developing wonderful gears which have helped people climb, walk and see nature with more enthusiasm and courage. 

“India is a land of beautiful mountains and thick forests. Initially, it was a survival strategy for tribal community and slowly became a hobby during the colonial rule,” he said. “Now, it is a sport where young enthusiasts learn to climb, trek and cross all natural barriers and obstacles for pleasure, fun, achievement and also to relate with nature,” he added.

Now, he conducts training for schoolchildren, college students and corporate employees in rock climbing, trekking, river crossing, parasailing, nature study camps and fun games during expeditions.

He also teaches breathing techniques to help youngsters overcome physical and mental stress, breathlessness, wheezing and for better health.  “By oral simulation and rhyming movement the whole body control can be achieved and concentration levels can be increased,” he said.

For Thirulogachandran, mountaineering should reach every nook and corner of the country. He makes use of every opportunity to teach his friends and neighbours the unique activity. “Those who want to take up mountaineering should show enthusiasm in the sport. They should not only accept challenges and take risks but also be mentally, physically and psychologically fit. Regular exercises, including jogging, walking, cycling and swimming should be done,” he explained.

“Also, as far as I have known, no government provides any help for expeditions. During our expeditions, we spent from our pocket. It costs almost Rs 1.2 lakh for each expedition which includes transportation, accommodation and food,” he added. The governments should encourage this sport, he said.

Thirulogachandran,  who is a qualified trainer in Tamil Nadu, founded Well Wisher Adventure Club with B Srikanth, P Nagarajan, Ilango and a few other friends.

Over a period it has grown and services and programmes have been extended. They teach in schools, colleges and corporate houses showing interest and spirit to dare and feel the inner sense of adventure, Thirulogachandran said.

“There is a real need for students and adults to be with nature and learn the missing links with nature through physical-psycho-social activities,” he said. His journey is to identify, encourage and include his vision to bring learning communities to enjoy the rich wilderness through the sense of adventure.

He has conducted over 30 mountaineering programmes in places like Udagamandalam, Kodai, Yelagiri, Yercaud, Chennai-Vandalur Hills and Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu and trained over 1,500 people.

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