Mountain guide, RussiaSasha Lebedev
Sasha Lebedev is our trip organiser and mountain leader in Russia, he leads all of our trips to Mount Elbrus and organises the logistics on the ground. He lives in Moscow and has been working with Adventure Alternative since 1999. Sasha is married to Alyona and they have six children, all of whom have travelled a lot and been brought up with a love of the outdoors.
Sasha is also a well known author of travel books in Russia, and he has written extensively about Mount Elbrus, the Altai region, and the western regions of Mongolia.
During his early years Sasha was a Soviet rafting champion and his sport took him around the country and abroad, especially to New Zealand where he experienced the big rivers there. Back in Russia Sasha travelled extensively and became a mountain and trekking guide through many years of experience.
Gavin met Sasha in 1999 when preparations were in place for the Millennium Expedition to climb the Seven Summits in one year. Sasha helped to organise the bottled oxygen for Gavin's Everest Expedition and also organised the Elbrus trip. They became good friends and have remained so ever since, and they regularly climb Elbrus together.
Mountain Leaders in Russia generally gain their status from experience rather than qualification, but of course the Russian nation has a prestigious history in mountaineering with a record of some of the finest high altitude alpinists in the world. Sasha not only has a strong mountain sense about him, but he is also extremely safe and works to the international standards of organisations like UIMLA.
With many years of experience running trips to Mount Elbrus with Adventure Alternative Sasha understands the expectations of clients coming from abroad and is very communicative. His ability to make things happen in Russia is excellent and he has proven many times his ability to handle all sorts of minor issues from lost luggage all the way through to mountain decisions on summit day.
He employs and works with a number of local guides and he follows our principle of using the same people every year. Their English is not as good as his, but they have all proven themselves on the mountain. Gavin generally goes out to Russia every year to follow up with training and ensure that the team on Elbrus is following all the correct protocols for safety.
Sasha always carries mobile communication with him on the mountain and nowadays there is signal all the way to just short of the summit itself. For every trip we have a constant flow of information and if there is an issue with language then we generally use the phone to sort it out.
Since 1999 all of our trips have run without problem, and we have never had to cancel a trip. We attribute this to extensive preparation, good training and having an expert like Sasha Lebedev on the ground.