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MALLI MASTAN BABU’S JOURNEY ACROSS THE SEVEN SUMMITS



DenaliCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Denali

“Mountains retained its favourite child...” It was with these words that Indian mountaineer and explorer Malli Mastan Babu’s death was announced on 4 April, 2015. The 40-year-old from Nellore was caught in heavy snowfall while trying to summit Cerro Tres Cruces, an Andean mountain in Chile. In 2006, Babu famously became the world’s fastest Seven Summiteer. He held the world record for climbing the seven summits—the highest mountains in each of the seven continents—on the seven days of the first week in each calendar month over 172 days. A graduate of IIT Kharagpur and IIM Calcutta, Babu left his career as a software engineer to embark on a life of adventure. Follow his journey across the Seven Summits in the seven continents.
EverestCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Everest

The highest mountain in the world, Everest stretches along the border of Nepal and Tibet. Named after British surveyor George Everest, it is locally known as Sagarmatha or “Mother of the Universe” in Nepal and Chomolangma or “Goddess Mother of Snows” in Tibet. Rising to a height of 8848 m, it has two main climbing routes from Nepal and Tibet. Shaped like a three-sided pyramid, it is covered by glaciers. The main challenges in climbing the mountain are altitude sickness, low oxygen levels, extreme weather, avalanches and the Khumbu Icefall. In 1953, Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norway became the first successful climbers to reach its summit.
EverestCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Everest

When he was a student of Sainik School Korukonda, Babu was inspired by the story of his alumnus Lt M Uday Bhaskar Rao, who died during an Everest mission with the Indian army in 1985. In 2009, he also became the first south Asian mountaineer to trek through all the Himalayan passes between Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga.
Vinson MassifPhoto by:  Gavin_Antarctica_Vinson_2000, Creative Commons Attribution Licence
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Vinson Massif

At 4892 m, Mount Vinson is the highest peak in Antarctica. It lies in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, approximately 1200 km from the South Pole. First discovered in 1958, it was first climbed in 1966. With its polar climate, the massif has low snowfall, but its high winds, low temperatures and remoteness make it extremely challenging to climbers. Babu was the first Indian to climb Antarctica’s tallest peak, Vinson Massif. It was also the first peak he climbed during his Seven Summits challenge in 2006.
DenaliCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Denali

At 6144 m, Denali is the highest mountain in North America. It sees extreme weather conditions all round the year, with temperatures dropping to as low as -60 degrees Celsius. Named Denali or “The High One” by the Athabaskan Indians, it was renamed Mount McKinley in 1896, after the then American president William McKinley. Denali has a vertical relief of 18000 feet, which is considerably greater than Mount Everest’s vertical rise of 12000 feet.
AconcaguaCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Aconcagua

Situated in Argentina, Mount Aconcagua holds the distinction for being the highest mountain in South America, and the Western and Southern Hemispheres. It is the tallest point in the Andes, the longest mountain range in the world. At 6960 m, it is the highest peak outside Asia. While the climb is considered to be technically easy, most mountaineers are affected by altitude sickness.
AconcaguaCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Aconcagua

Babu had spent a considerable amount of time in South America in the last few years, learning Spanish and exploring the Andean mountains. Besides scaling Aconcagua thrice, he also climbed the highest peaks in the Andes, including Peru’s Huascaran, Ecuador’s Chimborazo, Bolivia’s Sajama, and Chile’s Ojos del Salado.
ElbrusCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Elbrus

A dormant volcano, Mount Elbrus is situated in the western Caucasus Mountains in Russia. At 5642 m, it is the highest mountain in Russia as well as Europe.
ElbrusCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Elbrus

Covered in snow and 22 glaciers throughout the year, Elbrus is also the starting point of three major rivers—Baksan, Malkan and Kuban. The Normal Route is considered to be the safest route to the summit, and has a cable car that takes visitors to a height of 12500 feet.
KilimanjaroCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Kilimanjaro

At 5895 m, Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world as well as the highest peak in Africa. With three volcanic cones, Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano and literally mans “White Mountain”. It is surrounded by Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park, with diverse ecological zones such as tropical jungle, savannah and desert.
KilimanjaroCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Kilimanjaro

Climbing the mountain does not require any technical skills or mountaineering experience, but its high elevation can lead to acute mountain sickness. It is mandatory to climb with a licensed guide and porters. In the last century, Kilimanjaro’s glaciers have shrunk by 82 percent.
KoscizukoCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Koscizuko

At 2228 m, Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain on the Australian continent. Situated on the Great Dividing Range in the eastern part of Australia, it is the focal point of the Kosciuszko National Park. Even though it is the snowiest and coldest place in the continent, it is the lowest of the Seven Summits and considered to be the easiest to climb. As many as 100,000 people climb to the summit annually. However, it is contentious whether the title of the highest mountain in Australia should go to Kosciuszko or the Carstensz Pyramid in Oceania, which is part of the same continental plate. As a result, most Seven Summiteers like Babu climb both the peaks.
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Carstensz

Babu was the first Indian to summit Mount Carstensz, the highest peak in Oceania. At 4884 m, it is considered to be one of the most difficult climbs in the Seven Summits because of its remote location in a dense jungle. Named after the Dutch explorer John Carstensz, who was one of the first Europeans to see the mountain in the 17th century, the summit was first climbed only in 1962. Situated in Indonesia’s Papua province, it is also known as Puncak Jaya or the “Summit of Victory”.
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