Malli Mastan Babu, an Indian mountaineer who won fame as the first South Asian to scale the highest peak on each of the seven continents, and who had been missing in the Andes since late March, was found dead on Friday. He was 40.
India’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, announced on Sunday that Mr. Babu’s body had been found in the border region between Argentina and Chile. With the body was a bag containing a copy of the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, and an Indian flag.
Mr. Babu was known as one of the world’s fastest summiteers. In just 172 days, from Jan. 19 to July 10, 2006, he climbed the world’s tallest peaks on seven continents: Aconcagua in South America, McKinley in North America, Elbrus in Europe, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Kosciuszko in Australia, Everest in Asia and Vinson Massif in Antarctica.
In 2008, he trekked from Everest to Kanchenjunga, covering nearly 680 miles of the world’s highest terrain in 75 days. As was the case with most of his adventures, he did it alone.
Once asked in a radio interview why he preferred to travel alone, he said, “Simply because it would be difficult for other climbers and trekkers to match my pace.”
Mr. Babu was born Sept. 3, 1974, into a poor family of fishermen in Gandhi Jana Sangam, a village in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. He was the youngest of five children.
His survivors include his mother, two brothers and two sisters.
Mr. Babu was a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur and the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata, the city formerly known as Calcutta. He had worked as a software engineer for three years.
He said his interest in mountaineering was inspired by a statue of a boyhood hero, Lt. M. Uday Bhaskar Rao, who died at an elevation of more than 26,000 feet during an Indian Army expedition on Everest in 1985. Lieutenant Rao was a fellow alumnus of a military school Mr. Babu attended as a youngster. As an 11-year-old, he said, he would stand before the statue, “awe-struck.”
In Kolkata, Mr. Babu formed an adventure club and organized trekking, skiing, rock climbing, rafting and meditation courses in the western Himalayas. He also lectured on leadership and management in India, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.