American Way: How did you end up sitting in such a sweet
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.