One of the most loved and admired mountaineers from India, Malli Mastan Babu was found dead in the Andes Mountains Saturday morning by search parties from Argentina and Chile. A pall of gloom descended on the Malli home in Tirupati where a large number of friends gathered to console his mother. Mastan’s sister Dr Malli Dorasannamma has left for Argentina to arrange to bring the body of her brother.
Mastan Babu had gone missing on March 24 after he went from a base camp to check the route to summit the Cerro Tres Cruces Sur in bad weather. When he failed to return to the base camp till next morning, several mountaineers and climbers from Argentina and Chile tried to mount search and rescue operations but were hampered due to bad weather.
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Distraught friends and fellow mountaineers posed a message on the Facebook page Rescue Malli Mastan Babu, “Mountains retained its favourite child…RIP Malli Mastan Babu.”
Mastan, 40, hails from Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, and he and his friends hailing from various countries were supposed to summit the Cerro Tres Cruces Sur, at 21748 feet in the Andes on the Chilean side and were climbing from Argentina side.
Mastan is well-known in the international mountaineering circles for summiting all the seven highest mountains in all seven continents in a calendar year. He had summitted more than 150 mountains in 15 years. “Climbing was his passion. He was hardly at home, always out there somewhere, climbing one mountain or the other. If he was not climbing alone, he would be leading a team of climbers, giving them tips and guiding them,” Dr Malli Dorsannamma, his distraught sister, said Saturday.
Mastan was supposed to return to India on March 28. He is an alumnus of IIM-Kolkata and IIT-Kharagpur.
To pursue his passion of mountaineering, Mastan remained unmarried. Mastan expressed his desire to scale Mt Everest when he was 11 years old and studying at the Korukonda Sainik School. The school’s alumnus Lt. M Uday Bhaskar Rao had perished while trying to scale the Everest in 1985 along with other officers, which inspired Mastan to complete Lt Rao mission.
Mastan has climbed most of the mountains in the seven continents. He was also the first Indian to summit Mt Vinson Massif, the tallest peak in Antarctica, and the first person from Andhra Pradesh to scale the Mt Everest. He was also known for fast climbing. In 2005, he summitted Kilimanjaro on January 20 in three and half days.
On Saturday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu also expressed grief on Mastan’s demise.
My tributes to Mountaineer Mastan Babu. I stand by his family members in this hour of grief. He made us proud by following his passion. RIP.
— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) April 4, 2015