R.I.P. Malli – India’s Mountaineering Son.

He never looked for any approval. He just did it.

Chances are that you haven’t heard of Malli Mastan Babu – he happens to have achieved the feat of becoming the “fastest seven summiteer” in the world (172 days in 2006). I remember when I met him, he narrated the story of how he strategized to climb the 7 summits on 7 days of the week in each calendar month – this involved lot of preparation, waiting, grit and patience! There was no logical reason behind the ‘7 days of the 7 month’ – but he just wanted his way.
Malli was also the first Indian to summit Mt Vinson Massif, the tallest peak in Antarctica.
He died while on a climb to Argentina’s Andes mountain (he was missing since March 24th).
Malli was an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and IIM Calcutta – I had the fortune of meeting him and talking to him several times.
The only word to describe Malli is CRAZY. No one can logically explain why he did what he did. At times, I have wondered what makes him so crazy? Why can’t he be ‘normal’? For somebody like me who is surrounded with entrepreneurs who are talking about unicorn valuation, Malli seemed like a person from a different planet.
– He had the luxury of taking any corporate job, but he didn’t even think twice about mountaineering.
– He had no formal training in the initial years of mountaineering. He scaled mountains after mountains – with literally no support from government or even sponsors.
– He never wanted to be in the limelight.
I invited him for UnPluggd conference thrice and he shied away citing several reasons. I wanted to connect him with several corporate sponsors – but he wasn’t the most sponsor-friendly person. He believed in himself and wasn’t ready to sell his freedom for anything (even though his nearest competitors have made 50X with 1/10th achievement).
In the past, he was duped by several corporates/ sponsors and that explains why he just wanted to be where he breathed his last breath – the mountains.
The most inspiring thing about Malli is him being dedicated to fulfilling his dream,  his relentless effort of chasing his dreams without giving a damn to fame, money or other commercial interests. He never looked for any approval. He just did it.
Rest in peace, Malli. India has truly lost its mountaineering son.


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