My eBay charity auction of two items carried to the top of Mount Everest by Jon "Into Thin Air" Krakauer is now complete, and the results were excellent.
Krakauer's Charlet Moser crampon—a toothy boot attachment that facilitates walking on snow and ice—pulled down a bid of $660. The Patch—a mangy and possibly cursed piece of rabbit fur signed by Krakauer after he completed his famous 1996 Everest ascent—earned $460. Neither bid met the reserve price of $1,000, but on further reflection I realized that was unrealistic, so I waived it and made the sales.
In the early going, the Patch was running ahead of the crampon, but that changed after New York Times media writer David Carr wrote about the auction, quoting my loudmouth remark that the crampon was probably a better investment. How did the Patch react to being sandbagged? Put it this way: Four days later I suffered a 65-mile-an-hour highway blowout near Yuma, Ariz. Granted, the Patch's best-known weapon is a high-altitude whiteout. But as the old-timers like to say: "The Patch works in whatever medium it wants." I definitely think it was messing with me.
The crampon's proud owner is a Colorado bidder named Andrew Luter, an outdoorsy type who is a big fan of Into Thin Air. The Patch is going to a group of five childhood friends and occasional camping buddies—now scattered at various locales in the East—who call their club "B'ob." They clearly have the right attitude. "From your story it was obvious that the Patch is endowed with mystical powers beyond the comprehension of normal man, and must be treated with great reverence," wrote a Pittsburgh-based B'ob named Adam. (He prefers to keep his last name private—the better to avoid Patch groupies, I guess.)
Among the spiritualizing gestures under discussion: an "oaken-glass preservation chamber," an epic poem, and a Web site (not up yet, but write to firstname.lastname@example.org for information) devoted to the Patch's "terrible glory." Sold!
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