Hyderabad: Ace Indian mountaineer and role model for climbers all over the world, Malli Mastan Babu, who went missing since March 24 while on a climb in the Andes Mountains in Argentina, has been found dead.
The news has been confirmed by Umashankar Kopalle — originally from Hyderabad but now based in Illinois, USA — has confirmed the latter’s death. Kopalle has created awareness about the rescue operations on social media.
The Facebook page ‘Rescue Malli Mastan Babu’, which was set up by friends and well-wishers, relentlessly covered rescue operations but the last post seems to have given up all hope. This was the heartbreaking message – “Mountains retained its favourite child. RIP Malli Mastan Babu”
However, Babu’s brother Prakash in Hyderabad said the family had no official confirmation of his death.
40-year-old Babu came from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh and has close to 10 to 12 years of experience climbing mountain peaks.
Babu began his expedition on March 24. He was attempting to climb the mountain range along the Argentina-Chile border from the base camp of Cerro Tres Cruces.
He made contact last on March 24 with Argentina’s Hernan Augusto Prajon, who was leading the rescue group.
However, he did not return to the base camp on March 25. His friends and fellow climbers tried establishing contact with him, but his GPS device too could not be tracked.
In 2006, Babu has scaled seven summits of the world in 172 days.
Around 90 per cent of Malli Mastan Babu’s expeditions have been solo. Groups are considered safer for such expeditions, even in communities of bikers and trekkers, because the members have each other’s backs. When Mr Babu was not going solo, it meant that he was leading a group of people. He himself had admitted that scaling the Himalayas had been tough. He was even injured during the expedition.
Babu carried a Garmin GPS, but he never uses it as he is well-versed with the terrains of the mountains. In fact, the rescue teams even called up the Garmin CEO for help with tracking him. But they were informed that the equipment only received and did not transmit. When Mr Babu was asked on a radio interview why he preferred to go on solo expeditions, he had said: “because it would be difficult for others to match my pace”.