India Ace Mountaineer Dies Unsung, Missing Alert Sent out by Friends on Facebook
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NEW DELHI: What do you call a nation that sleeps over the death of a citizen, who brought great honor to his land?
An ambitious spirit, he must have started his trek with hope and confidence. If he felt an ominous nagging inside his head, that something might go wrong today, then nobody could have known or warned him against it.
(FB announcement ss)
Declared missing since March 24, Mastan Babu's peers created a Facebook page "Rescue Malli Mastan Babu". Eight days after, on April 4 the page confirmed his demise in a most heartrending eulogy, "Mountains retained its favorite child.....R.I.P Malli Mastan Babu". And that is how the world got to know about the tragic end of Mastan Babu, World's fastest summiters' short but amazingly eventful life.
Born at Gandhi Janasangam Village in Nellore, the 40 year old mountaineer was the fifth child in a humble farming family of Andhra Pradesh. Mastan Babu was the first one to receive a formal education. He has been popularly known to be inspired by a statue of Lt. M.Uday Bhaskar Rao in his school, who was a former student and had died in the Indian Army's Expedition of Mount Everest in 1985. But his childhood dream to become a mountaineer did not immediately materialise in his life.
He pursued his higher education from National Institute of Technology (NIT), Jamshedpur then went on for his M.tech from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur and later also did a diploma from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta. Throughout his academic career he was a sports enthusiast and eventually became the founder of IIM, Calcutta Adventure Club,2003. He also won the Dr. B.C Roy Award for his outstanding contribution to campus life at IIM, Calcutta.
Every Indian knows how difficult it is to get admission to these top institutes. For someone who had the option of a comparatively comfortable corporate life, earning in lakhs and living a luxurious life, Mastan Babu dropped it all; he went ahead to chase his dreams and did the one thing that gave his life true meaning- Mountaineering.
To comment, 'impressive achievements', would be an understatement. Mastan Babu is the only Indian to mount Vinson Massif, the tallest peak of Antarctica; Mt. Carstensz Pyramid, tallest peak of Oceanic; and he is the only person from his state to summit Mt. Everest. His world records in a bizarre fashion include the word "fastest" in a poetic refrain- He is the Fastest 7 summiter in the world. And he did not just simply climb the 7 highest peaks of the 7 different continents, he climbed these peaks on 7 different days of the week and one in each calendar month.
In short, he climbed the 7 summits in only 172 days, between Jan19-July10, 2006. He holds the Guinness World Record for the same. On a closer analysis of his achievements now, it feels like that there was a reason why Mastan Babu had to achieve these vaunting summits in such a short period of time- his clock was not too generous.
His last summit was with his friends at the Ceros Mountains. The Ceros mountains form the frontier between Chile and Argentina. He apparently began his ascent from the Argentinean side and was dropped off at the base camp on March 24. His sister Dr.Malli Dorasannamma, informed the media, "It appears that from the base camp he set off alone. The rain worsened after he left. He was supposed to return on the 24th, but did not. The area gets a lot of rains and floods."
The speed of rescue operations could not match the speed of the World's fastest summiter. Due to the extreme weather conditions, the body couldn't be discovered immediately. For eight days the rescue operation continued from both the Chile and the Argentinean side of the mountains. Several efforts were made to locate him through aerial operations until he was finally found lifeless among the mountains.
Though the death of world's fastest summiter failed to become the breaking news at his home country, tribal officials and activists of Tamil Nadu had organized a rally to pressure the state and central governments to take effective steps to bring Mastan Babu back home. There was a sense of helplessness among the locals who were restless at the laxity of government. "We are worried about the survival of Indian pride. Both State and Central governments should have swung into the action on their own instead of making routine enquiries through phone calls," the state president T Nageswara Rao had been recorded saying.
"Mastan Babu gone missing" flashed on news channels But the majority of Indians had no idea who Mastan Babu was and what he had achieved.
As per the Facebook page, the last rites of Mastan Babu were to be performed on April 25 at his home town, 25kms from Nellore, with state honors now as a result of the sustained campaign by his family and friends.Their Facebook page became the connect, and now announces a Global Virtual Memorial Service, "Climb and Candle- A tribute to Malli Mastan Babu" scheduled that urges people across the world to climb whatever they can on this day, be it stairs, rocks, hills, mountains and light a candle in the memory of Mastan Babu.
In a post on 7summits.com, a fellow climber perhaps has the last word when he writes,
“With so little experience and no interest in the rule book, Mastan Babu clearly had his own heart and mind when it came to seizing heights. Whatever Mastan Babu achieved is exceptional, and now that such a brave soul has departed, all that the world can wish for the Indian ace climber is to climb new heights in heaven. “