Reaching for the Sky: Dr. Aditya Khadanga’s Ascent to the Pinnacle of Mountaineering

By Debamitra Mishra


The call of the mountains has the power to stir the deepest passions within a person, and for mountaineer Dr. Aditya Khadanga from Odisha, this calling was felt from a very young age. As he reminisces about his childhood, Aditya shares, “The fondness towards mountains was always there since my childhood. Whenever I used to travel with my family, witnessing mountains always fascinated me, and I dreamt of climbing them someday in the future.”

Commemorating his recent glory of accomplishing the summit of Mount Elbrus in Russia, Dr. Aditya tells us, “There is no better and wonderful feeling when you are at Russia’s highest peak and utter the name of Lord Jagannath. Our base camp was at 3800 meters. You need control over your overwhelming nerves at that time. Few meters away from the summit, my steps were getting heavier, the insulin level had gone down. I had been walking all night. That moment, I had only 600 ml water as my hydration backup. I was uttering the name of Lord Jagannath at 5600 meters with all teary eyes. I don’t know how and from where, I got a positive push and climbed over. It took me 35-40 minutes to climb those 40 meters. Chanting the name of Lord Jagannath has made it possible for me and I reached the summit.”

Overcoming physical exhaustion and overwhelming nerves, Aditya found solace in chanting the name of Lord Jagannath, which provided him with the determination to reach the summit. Holding the Tiranga and Lord Jagannath’s holy flag at the peak, he felt the support of his entire homeland.

For Aditya, his early fascination gradually evolved into a lifelong passion as he embarked on numerous journeys and expeditions. Trekking became an integral part of his life, but he soon realized that mountaineering was where his heart truly belonged. “I have always felt curious about climbing to the top of a mountain, being in nature, accomplishing a height, etc.,” he explains.

To hone his skills and gain a deeper understanding of the world of mountaineering, Aditya enrolled in a 28-day mountaineering course in Manali. This comprehensive training covered everything from climbing techniques to gear knowledge and survival skills. It was during this course that he had a profound revelation about humanity’s place in the grand scheme of nature. “When I experienced exposure to the whole concept of mountaineering, I realized that we humans are nothing in front of nature’s greatness,” Aditya reflects.

Mountaineering, with its demanding physical challenges and the need for extreme survival skills, served as a mirror through which Aditya discovered his true self. The adrenaline rush of summiting a peak pushed him to strive for more, and he describes the fleeting moments at the summit as “surreal and unmatched.”

Aditya’s official mountaineering journey kicked off with an expedition to Friendship Peak in Himachal Pradesh in 2021. This marked the beginning of a series of mountaineering expeditions, including the KshitiDhar Summit in India and later Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in Africa. Despite his achievements, Aditya faced prejudice from some who doubted the abilities of Odisha people in the realm of mountaineering. This skepticism only fueled his determination to change mindsets.


Coming from Odisha, a coastal state with minimal altitude, Aditya faced the challenge of adapting to vastly different climates outside India. His ambition extended to achieving the “Mountaineer’s Grand Slam,” a formidable challenge that entails conquering all Seven Summits and skiing to both the North and South Poles. Aditya is committed to this vision and has already embarked on the journey to complete all seven summits.

The preparation for each expedition involves rigorous physical and mental conditioning. Aditya emphasizes the importance of mental strength in mountaineering, describing it as an 85 percent mental and 15 percent physical challenge. He views his failed expeditions as valuable lessons that have contributed to his mental fortitude.

Being a doctor, Aditya understands the importance of nutrition during his rigorous training and expeditions. He follows a strict diet plan that includes controlled carbohydrate intake, high protein, and a focus on immunity and metabolism. Adapting to the local food culture of the expedition location helps him avoid dietary surprises during climbs.

Aditya’s message extends beyond mountaineering. He believes that finding one’s passion is a powerful tool for mental health upliftment. “Our dedication, focus, and preparation towards our passion is what makes our life worthy,” he states. Whenever faced with challenges, Aditya draws strength from envisioning the summit with closed eyes, a practice that helps him overcome difficulties.


While mountaineering is undoubtedly a rewarding pursuit, it also comes with financial challenges. Aditya acknowledges that the sport can be expensive, with expeditions costing at least 2-3 lakhs. To overcome this hurdle, he advises aspiring mountaineers to network and seek support from government initiatives and private entities. Crowdfunding and the support of the Odisha community can also be valuable resources.

Looking ahead, Aditya Khadanga envisions establishing a hub that provides comprehensive support for aspiring mountaineers, particularly from Odisha. This support would encompass funding, training, and preparation, ensuring that future generations of mountaineers have the resources they need to follow their dreams.

More than a mountaineer, Aditya Khadanga is a true adventurer who is scaling new heights and inspiring others to pursue their passions, no matter the challenges they may face along the way. His journey is a testament to the human spirit’s ability to conquer the most formidable obstacles, both within and outside ourselves.

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