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Top mountaineer Malli Mastan Babu now seems missing for five days when he was dropped off at the base camp on the Argentinean side of the Ceros mountains between Argentina and Chile on 24th March. He left the camp and has not been seen since.

He should have returned on the 24th itself, but the weather turned rainy (rains and floods are a common problem in the region) after he left. Search and rescue efforts mounted found other mountaineers but no signs of him. Indian Mountaineering Federation is already in touch with their counterparts, as are government officials. Fund raising efforts are on to extend search and rescue efforts further.

Malli was due to return to India on the 28th.

(based on media reports)

Malli Mastan Babu is a seasoned climber with extensive experience and holds the world record for completing the "Seven summits" (highest mountain summits on each continent) in the fastest time. He also is the first South Asian to do them. Malli Mastan Babu holds several other climbing records in India and is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and IIM Calcutta and NIT and an adventurer and motivational speaker.

1

A friend of mine died recently in a freak climbing accident. A lively, intelligent person, with great and diverse talent, he was well respected at work, among friends and fellow climbers alike. He was full of initiative ideas and empathy. A truly perfect person to have with you anywhere.

He has left behind a wife, a two year old daughter and aged parents. He was the sole bread-winner of their family, and they lived comfortably as he earned very well.

The family, now is in deep debt, as to add to their emotional loss, they now have no source of livelihood. My friend, while earning a good income, had failed to invest in insurance or savings, and had also taken a housing loan for their new home.

I look at their situation and learn my lesson. No one here comes with a guaranteed life-span. I am going to start saving, plan insurance, minimise debt, avoid expensive loans, and in general be well planned in my finances so that if an unforeseen disaster strikes, my family may at least be secure in an economical sense.

This is something outdoor professionals rarely consider. Leading hand to mouth lives becomes a way of life. The little extra money they have goes on something or the other they want.

The sad truth is that outdoor adventure instructors have very few guarantees in life. Their interests make very few non menial careers suitable for them in case of an accident that limits their abilities. Additionally few seem to manage a work-life balance to integrate family responsibilities with greater priority going to the mountaineering fraternity. Accidents are entirely possible in this profession and pay scales are low.

What is needed with our community is the interest in managing life, money, relationships and then using up what spare resources they have.