Leo Le Bon, the “Grandfather of Adventure Travel,” is the co-founder of California-based Mountain Travel Sobek, the company that launched the adventure travel industry.
Le Bon joined Thomas Cook World Travel in San Francisco in 1960. While there, he became one of the first travel professionals to get involved in outdoor travel by planning the first foreign outings to South America and Europe for the Sierra Club.
In 1967 Leo led the first commercial trek to Nepal, where he met Barry Bishop, one of the first Americans to climb Everest. Le Bon subsequently left his job at Thomas Cook to co-found Mountain Travel with Bishop and Allen Steck. Le Bon’s vision at Mountain Travel, where he was President and CEO until 1991, earned him a citation from NEWSWEEK magazine as one of the 25 most prominent innovators in the U.S. From 1991 to 2003, Leo ran Le Bon & Associates, an adventure travel product development firm.
Leo has traveled the world in search of new adventures and pioneered a number of destinations. Leo introduced adventurers to trekking in Nepal and foot safaris in Kenya, and opened new adventure travel destinations such as Tibet, China, Chile, Peru and Greenland. He literally has trekked, climbed, kayaked, skied and sailed the seven continents.
Leo has also authored three books: Majestic Mountains, Where Mountains Live, and The Adventurer’s Travel Guide. A fourth book on the history of Mountain Travel is underway.
In 2005, Le Bon was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award from the Adventure Travel Trade Association for his many contributions to the industry over the past four decades.