Akshay Kumar, CEO, Mercury Himalayan Expedition, passed away on September 16 morning of a cardiac arrest. He was 51. Son of the legendary mountain climber and soldier, Colonel Narinder (Bull) Kumar, he was a passionate skier, trekker and rafting guide. Kumar joined Mercury Himalayan Expedition, India's largest adventure travel company, established by his father. He was the President of the ATOAI for two terms and Vice Chairman of the Federation of Associations in India Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), the umbrella organisation of Indian tourism trade and industry associations.
Akshay trained as a river guide in Canada when he was 15 and rafted over 30 rivers across India and Canada. Years earlier whilst doing his graduation at St Stephen’s College Delhi he kept the legacy alive of the Hiking Club. He was supported by his wonderful wife, Dilshad, and ran a great adventure travel operation along with a rafting lodge in Rishikesh called Bulls Retreat. A qualified mountaineer, rock climber and biker, he was most comfortable in rafting and navigating skilfully through rapids.
He led the first-ever descent of the Brahmaputra river in Arunachal Pradesh in 1990; led the first-ever Isuzu Challenge Expedition in India – a first of its kind off road jeep safari across the upper Himalayan region.
He was a true adventurer.
The Kashmir slopes had been his home ground since he was 3 and the Calgary Winter Games in 1988 would have been his Olympic debut, but for an unfortunate skiing accident while training in Val Thorens, France.
His biggest joy was taking his little daughter, Saira on treks in the Himalaya and watching her ski down slopes, alas short lived.
The loss is immense and he will be remembered by the travel industry in India and overseas. Our deepest condolences to his parents, Dilshad, his wife and his little daughter, Saira.