American Way: How did you end up sitting in such a sweet spot?
Le Bon: You know life is a sequence of luckies, and you have to take advantage of them. I'm the kind of person, if I see something I like, I jump. Most people think, Well, I don't know. Should I do this or shouldn't I? And the opportunity has passed. I've had all kinds of luckies. Sometimes I wonder, Wow, how come they pick on me?
American Way: Why did you found Mountain Travel?
Le Bon: We [co-founders Allen Steck and Barry Bishop] were a bunch of climbers with a bunch of dreams. Basically it was an excuse for us to have fun. If you look at our early catalogs, the trips that were in there were whatever we wanted to do. Somebody would say, "I was just in Africa climbing Kilimanjaro," and we would say, "Hey, let's do that." The idea was, hey we want to do all this stuff and go all over the world and climb mountains and explore. But we didn't have any money so we just said, "Well, let the clients pay for it."
American Way: What should the traveler pack to ensure his travels are memorable?
Le Bon: Preparation. I believe it's important to do your homework. Most people say, "Let's go to Turkey and rent a car and drive around." How can you expect to find what it is you want to do and see? Some people just want to let it happen. With me, it's the total opposite. If I go to Turkey, I'm going to spend maybe two or three months poring over maps and reading books about the place - both novels and guidebooks. Before I get on the plane, I'm going to have a complete idea of what it is I want to do when I get there. Because if you don't, that can cause problems, especially in remote places where they don't have access to information like we do. You might come to a village and ask someone, "Where is the next village?" and the guy might not even know.