Gavin started Adventure Alternative in 1991 during a long period of travel which took him to many places around the world. Born in Kent, with some formative teenage time spent in Western Australia, Gavin moved to Northern Ireland to study English Literature at University and has lived in Kenya and London. He now lectures widely and is a Fellow of Oxford Brookes University and carried the Olympic torch in 2012 for his charity work.

During many years of travel Gavin was climbing mountains and going on many expeditions, building up experience in the Greater Ranges but concentrating on the Himalayas, Africa and Alaska. A solo trip across the Sahara Desert was a benchmark trip when travel became a way of life.

Other jobs included working on ships bound for the scrapping beaches in India, safari guiding and driving overland trucks in southern Africa, teaching in slum schools in Kenya and working ad hoc for a variety of aid agencies. In between extensive trips, mostly to developing countries and mountains, Gavin maintained a base in Ireland and volunteered in Scouting and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, organizing expeditions and adventure camps for many different groups.

On the back of considerable time spent in the slums Gavin set up his own charity called Moving Mountains in the 1990’s, using funds raised from his mountain climbs to put children through school. The charity became registered in 2001 and is now a large concern with a number of related NGO's and a large staff managing multiple developmental projects.

In 2000 Gavin celebrated the Millennium by attempting to climb the Seven Summits in one year, in the process raising money for Comic Relief by wearing a red nose on each summit!

Following that year long trip, there have been a further five expeditions to climb Mount Everest, three times without the use of supplemental oxygen and once alone. These high profile mountaineering ventures have allowed Gavin to raise in excess of half a million pounds for Moving Mountains.

"It seems to me that in my life I am either on an expedition or planning one. A lot of the motivation comes from wanting to see dreams come true. From crossing the Sahara on my own in the early days to running rehabilitation camps for hundreds of street children in the shanty towns of Kenya, to climbing Everest and having made such great and good friends along the way."

"Thinking back on all those small adventures, I recall so many moments that have become exceptional. They started off as dreams, idle thoughts that developed through long days and nights to become a Plan. I love the joy, the satisfaction and the sense of living when those dreams became reality, rolled into new experiences and eventually turned to memories."

Gavin is an International Mountain Leader and holder of the IML Award, and a member of the British Association of International Mountain Leaders the Mountain Leader Training Association.

BAIML - International Mountain Leader.jpg

Gavin travels extensively, climbing mountains and running expeditions and delegating the running of operations to staff around the world, and promoting the particular style of management and leadership that is special to Adventure Alternative.

"Nothing is left to chance. Setting up the companies and providing the degree of service and safety that I do require strict management. It is also about having a vision of tourism, and wanting to see a business model that can achieve more than a healthy balance sheet. The world has changed so much, become so much more accessible, that the impact of tourism is more important now than it ever was."

"On the one hand it is a holiday; on the other hand it represents a livelihood for many people who are often exploited and never see any benefits, it affects the environment, the culture and the economy of every region we visit. We have to work at that relationship. I’m not saying that every tourist has to become an activist, but I do believe that holiday companies should recognise their role in representing the rights of their clients and also the rights of everybody who plays a role in that holiday."

Gavin helped to set up the movement called Fair Trade Volunteering, and is a member of Business Against Poverty and on the committee for sustainable tourism at the Association of Independent Tour Operators. He is a public speaker and lectures on tourism and social entrepreneurship at various universities as well as the Roffey Park Business Management School. The model of tourism reflected in Adventure Alternative has won several awards, notably the World Responsible Travel Awards in 2009 and 2014.


 In recent years Gavin has developed a role as a speaker, both in the management industry and event guest speaker. Talks include:


With six expeditions to the highest mountain in the world to his name, Gavin is able to speak with experience and eloquence about what it means to try and climb to the top of the world. With a track record of climbing both with and without oxygen, alone and with clients, this is a personal odyssey of perseverance and following a dream. As an Everest facilitator and expedition guide, Gavin gets under the gloss and provides a fascinating insight into the costs and practicalities of organising an Everest trip.


No stranger to the difficulties of decision-making in hostile environments, Gavin has spoken to many leading companies and management institutes about the nature of strategic planning, good communication and working as a team. A variety of talks on this subject draw from many experiences of big expeditions and travels around the world to the office and the boardroom. Far from being an irrelevant comparison, these talks are both aspirational and inspirational, with a clear focus on the history of management theory and psychology.


The story of the charity which Gavin has set up and the ethos behind it, this talk looks at how developmental aid can be modernised to represent a modern, progressive approach to an emotive subject. Gavin has had many years of experience working in East Africa, Nepal and Borneo and speaks articulately on setting up NGOs, co-operatives, self-help groups and implementing management structures that enable people to become the architects of their own success.


A wry look at how tourism has developed in the past twenty years in the age of the global village, and how few people have benefitted from it. One of the world’s largest industries, tourism is still known for exploitation and inequality. Yet the latest Code of Ethics proposed by the UNWTO is forcing companies to take more responsibility for human rights and the impact of tourism on marginalised. With extensive experience in setting up financially sustainable tour companies in East African and Nepal, Gavin talks about how tourism can go beyond the balance sheet and leave a legacy to be proud of.


As an expedition guide Gavin has led trips to many of the most iconic destinations in the world and he speaks regularly at clubs and many of the major adventure travel events on climbing the Seven Summits, trekking in Nepal, Tanzania, Kenya, China, Argentina and Russia, to name some. These are down-to-earth shows with a practical view of how to achieve some of these great ambitions. Some of the popular talks include how to climb Kilimanjaro safely and properly, and also Mount Elbrus and some of the popular trekking peaks in Nepal.

Read Gavin's Huffington Post blog here.

Notable Expedition Peaks

Mount Everest Expeditions, Nepal 8848m

2000: SE Ridge; six man team, four Sherpas, four camps; reached South Summit (8750m)
2002: NE Ridge; two man team, no Sherpas; no bottled oxygen; two camps; reached Second Step (8750m)
2005: SE Ridge; self, one Sherpa; no bottled oxygen; one camp at 6800m; reached South Summit (8750m)
2007: N/S traverse; self, no Sherpas; no bottled oxygen; no camps; reached Second Step (8750m)
2009: SE Ridge; leader two clients, three Sherpas; bottled oxygen; four camps; reached Balcony (8500m)
2011: SE Ridge; leader two clients, three Sherpas; bottled oxygen; four camps; summit
(all expeditions self-organised and self-funded)

Cho Oyu, Tibet 8201m

1998: Herbert Tichy (normal) route; four man team, no Sherpas, no bottled oxygen; summit
2007: normal route; leader six man team, one Sherpa; no bottled oxygen; reached 7500m

Mustagh Ata, Pamir Mt Range, Tibet, 7547m

2010: Normal route, 14 man team, summit (snowshoes)

Mt Aconcagua, Argentina 6962m

2000: Horcones Route, 12 man team, summit
2002: Horcones Route, 6 man team, summit
2007: Traverse, 4 man team, summit 
2009: Horcones route, 5 man team, 6500m
2011: Horcones route, 14 man team, 6200m
2015: Horcones route, 12 man team, summit

Mt Ojos del Salado, Chile 6950 m

2006: normal route, 7 man team, summit. 
2007: normal route, 9 man team, 6900m

Mount Denali, Alaska USA 6456m

1997: West Buttress route, 12 man team, summit (ski descent)
2000: West Buttress route, leader of 10 man team, summit (ski descent)
2004: West Buttress route, co-leader of 6 man team, summit
2012: West Buttress route, leader of 6 man team, 6000m reached

Mount Elbrus, Russia 5642m

15 trips on both north and south side normal routes since 2000, 12 successful summits.

Mt Vinson, Antarctica 4897m

2000: normal route, 5 man team, summit

Carstenz Pyramid, Papua New Guinea 4884m

2000: normal route, 6 man team, summit

Mont Blanc, France 4808m

1995 & 2002: summits on Goûter Route

Island Peak, Nepal 6185m

Summits on normal route in 1998, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011

Pokalde Peak, Nepal 5745m

Summits in 1999, 2003, 2008, 2011

Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania 5895m

56 successful ascents to Kibo summit via all routes since 1991

Mt Kenya, Kenya 4995m

46 successful ascents to trekking peak of Point Lenana with youth groups since 1991

Mt Kinabalu, Malaysia 4042m

Summits in 2001, 2005, 2009

Mt Toubkal, Morocco 4167m

Summit in 1998, 2013 (winter)


Trans Sahara, Algiers to Tammanrasset overland

Low's Gully Descent, Kinabalu, Malaysia

Crossing of the Lagonaki Plateau, Russia

Magnetic North Pole Expedition 2013