Beyond The Age: Aditya Gupta
Aditya Gupta is not your average golf-playing corporate honcho. He is someone who pushes the envelope. He just raised the bar by scaling the world’s highest peak at the age of 50. Narrating his exhilarating experience of climbing Mount Everest, excerpts from the conversation.
You are a successful businessman. How did you get into mountaineering?
I got into mountains and nature before I got into the business. During my college days at IIT Roorkee, I joined this mountaineering club named Himalayan Explorer Club and started enjoying trekking. In 1987, I went to Pindari Glacier as my first expedition and since then took a liking to adventurous trips. In 1991, I even did a course in mountaineering and going on serious expeditions became a way of life for me.
At the age of 50, you set an example for not just physical fitness but mental fitness too. What inspired you to conquer this mountainous feet?
My goal and motivation here were also to prove that ordinary people like me can achieve anything. I believe that passion plus preparation is equal to performance. Mentally, one cannot really change much as the basic attitude of a person is what comes out in extreme situations. You cannot fake it on Everest. Climbing mountains, they say is 98 per cent attitude and 2 per cent aptitude. The final frontier of my hobby was to climb Mount Everest. Every mountaineer is charmed by Everest and at some point, we all have to believe that we can climb it. In 2008-09, during my Brahmaputra rafting expedition, my friends prodded me to try climbing the Everest and I thought to myself, ‘Why not?’ So, I first tried climbing the Everest back in 2014 but due to a major avalanche, I had to return.
What is your fitness and nutrition regimen before and during a trip?
I work out about 15 hours a week before a trip. In general, I am disciplined about what I eat. Nothing specific as such, except some more vitamins and proteins. During the expedition, you eat what you get from your agency. Mostly it is basic lentils and vegetables. Some days on high camps only noodle soup or rice is available. There is eventually a lot of muscle loss over an expedition and recovery period after your return is a long process.
Are there any specific techniques you use to stay in control when you find yourself in a tough spot?
Optimism is my approach in general and I tend to believe that things will be fine. I don’t know if there are “techniques” to “manipulate” your internal feelings and attitudes. As I said - you cannot really fake it on Everest and as such in any really tough situation. If panicking is one’s nature - it will happen. Reminding yourself that you need to take “one step at a time” can get you anywhere is useful. It is also important to remember (as another past Everester reminded me) that when one gets an opportunity to do something great - something which brings a lot of happiness and glory, then the pain associated with it is also great. The pain and difficulty, however, is temporary- the happiness is lifelong.
Apart from the successful climbs and expanding your business empire. Did you ever experience setbacks and failures that made your passion for your sport falter at all?
As they say - there are no “failures,” only learning. Of course, there are always things which do not work out. We must learn what is to be learnt from it and move on. No, my enthusiasm or belief in myself has never been compromised. I am obstinately optimistic. I believe that if one does their genuine best - things almost always work out. Sometimes it may seem like what we wanted did not happen. But I have discovered it only leads to better things later on.
Mount Everest was in news for overcrowding and you witnessed the situation first hand. What was your experience like?
I am not in favour of overcrowding but there has to be a healthy number of climbers. Excess of anything is bad but when you have a decent number of climbers, you get better facilities and the path on the climb gets clearer. It is extremely tough to walk on smooth ice. If there are footsteps, you get a better foothold. However, one needs to understand you can’t lower the number unless there is a government rule. There is only one Everest in the world with thousands of people wanting to climb it with hundreds of agencies facilitating.
What is next on your bucket list?
I do one adventure tour every year. All tours may not be extreme in nature but they are certainly out of the ordinary like, climbing a dormant volcano in Ecuador and riding horses on Mongolian mountains. These tours are not just limited to mountains, it is a mixed bag. Adventure is my long-time love and I will do it till my body allows. I am yet to do sea diving and explore the Amazon rainforest. I am not running after milestones, I am collecting experiences.