Malli Mastan Babu, an ace mountaineer who had climbed the Seven Summits in 172 days, has gone missing during a solo expedition in the Andes. The 40-year-old from Andhra Pradesh was on a solo expedition that began on the 24th of March, attempting to climb the mountain range along the Argentina-Chile border from the base camp of Cerro Tres Cruces. He, however, has not made his scheduled return to the base camp on March 25 nor has any attempt to communicate with him been successful.
"He started the expedition from the base camp on March 24. He was supposed to return to the camp on 25th. He climbed up from the Argentina side and was to climb down from the same side," said Saurabh Uboweja, who is acting as the spokesperson of Malli's friends and family.
"The authorities did a brief rescue mission on March 25 but that did not result in anything fruitful. Since the weather at the time (on that side if the mountain) was bad, the authorities thought he might have climbed down the Chile side. But beyond that there was no rescue operation for two days," he added.
Malli's friends and family have been in touch with the ministry of external affairs and the embassies of Chile and Argentina. "Both the Chile and Argentina embassies have been very cooperative. A private rescue crew of eight is ready to depart to the range." Uboweja, who was Malli's junior at the IIM Calcutta, says Malli's GPS device too could not be tracked.
The private rescue operation, Uboweja says would cost up to 50,000 dollars for 24 hours, and hence Malli's friends and the IIM-C alumni are contributing to the cause.
"Climbing up the mountain for the rescue operation isn't ideal as the weather is bad. The only way to go about is to use a chopper. There is a funding campaign going on. We need a lot of support. More than 72 hours have passed now, and hence the operation has to begin soon."
Uboweja added that the Embassies of Chile and Argentina in India are in consultation and are likely to conduct a joint rescue operation. Malli, who is single, has close to 10 to 12 years of experience of climbing mountain peaks, said Uboweja.
To contact or contribute to the rescue mission, visit the Facebook page: Rescue Malli Mastan Babu