There was a question about British Airways early in this thread. Here is the long story...
I arrived for the first time in America in October '82 with the goal of traveling around California for a year and climbing 1000 routes on a budget of 1000 bucks. The < $3 per day was supposed to cover camping, food, transport, liquor, whores and anything else which might be needed for life over this side of the pond. Anyway with $1 a night going to camping in camp 4 it quickly became obvious I would have to postpone the liquor and whores for a while. The white sugar direct from the dispenser (post 1) was a way of keeping to the budget. Free calories! Also a low cost meal was mustard and mayo, pilfered from fast food restaurants, one packet on each slice of bread and made into a tasty sandwich. This is relevant, honest.
The 82/83 winter would become a legendary El Nino event for California and by the end of October the rains had set in in the Valley and it was off to Joshua Tree. I got a ride with Jeff Elgar. It was my first experience with the VW bus, and unfortunately not my last. 20 hours, 200 gallons of gas and 50 quarts of oil later the rolling superfund site arrived in Josh.
Bachar was there of course and I'd see him doing all his morning boulder problems, Cave Man, Scatterbrain, Stem Gem etc, every day. Doesn't he get bored? This is before we became friends and I became familiar with his training. Eventually I did them all, except Stem Gem which I would slide off every time. This really pissed me off because Bachar did it effortlessly, literally hiking it. How can he possibly be that much better than me? Of course we know now that this was partially because he was using the first pair of Fires available to an American climber, but I was in the dark and continued to fail until I was down to the cardboard midsole on my right shoe.
This was a disaster. New shoes would bust the budget for sure. Liquor and whores would be outof the question for the rest of my trip. What is a dirt bag to do? I know - a $2 tube of plastic rubber from the hardware store. That's it! So every couple of days I'd smear a new layer of plastic rubber over the cardboard and try to climb.
Of course the most dramatic failure of the plastic plastic (it bore no resemblance to rubber, let me tell you) happened on British Airways where I fell the full length of the route after the plastic plastic cut loose and my belayer, not expecting I'd fall on a lowly 5.10, continued to pay out slack as I stood for a few minutes at the top crux, looking at the little edge which would precipitate my demise a provide inspiration for a great route name.