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Delhi from looking at rocks and things, he comes to me and says, �We can do this better.� And so another trekking company is born. They are formed in this manner every month. Whoever reigns in this business suffers pretenders to his throne on every trip."

"It must get pretty crowded," Trager said.

"It would, but on the whole, creation and dissolution are in balance. Just enough fail that there is room for their former clients and associates to take their places. You see, most of these adventurers totally misunderstand the nature of the business. Max is one such.� He offers only these athletic mountaineering treks. How many people are truly interested in such ordeals, or understand what they are getting into? Look at this tragedy in Ladakh. Freya is telling me the man who has died should never have been with the party."

"A problem client," Trager said.

"Exactly," Bagchee said. "But what can one expect when the business itself is so problematic? These expeditions will always be too expensive and difficult to operate without complications. Max's more successful competitors subsidize each of their mountain adventures with a good half-dozen parties of twenty or more to the Taj Mahal and the handicraft merchants of Srinagar. It is those trips that are truly worthwhile."

Bagchee had steered the conversation down an unexpected path, and Trager found himself left at the turn.

"Tell that to Freya," he said. "She's a mountaineer."

�Ha! You think that Freya has not led some treks to the Taj? You believe that buying a carpet from a Kashmiri is not an adventure? If this is not the same business as H.O.T., it is because mountaineering is

Springtime in Kashmir ©Talbot Bielefeldt 2020.

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