|Articles | Photo Gallery | Stories/Forum | Make A Donation | Memorial Services | Home|
We wanted to start a place where all who knew Jimmy or even those who didnt can post their stories, photos, and just anything you wanted to say about Jimmy. He was a good friend and a great guy. Tell us about your adventures with him.
Where would I even begin? That is the question I have asked myself time and again since Tambri called us back here in Durango on the day they found Jimmy's body. For lack of a better description it felt like I had been hit by a car. Jimmy was at our house just months ago the night before him and Marcus set off to the Black Canyon for a little climbing. Marcus and his family, my family and Jimmy all sat here in our living room and just talked about life and climbing. As usual Jimmy and I eventually got into our own little conversations about our kids. Our daughters were born months apart and he is one of the few people that I could talk to about my love for climbing and my love for my family and who would truly understand what I meant. That night before heading off to sleep next door at Marcus' house Jimmy walked back into the house and said goodbye to me, my wife and our kids. He handed me a check and when I asked what it was for he said "those bolts you gave me a while back." That was over a year ago. I tried to refuse and he looked me right in the eye and told me that I had kids and I damned well better take it. I couldn't care less about the money. He rememberd me giving him something that long ago. He had a heart of gold. He knelt down by the door and gave my daughter five. That would be the last time I would ever see Jimmy.
Jimmy and I met at his brothers funeral. Joel and I had become very close. Joel took me under his wing and took me climbing outside for the first time. I worked for the hospital where Joel was being treated with his final bout with cancer and I saw first hand the look in his eye when his sun sat on his bed. At the funeral Marcus pointed out who Jimmy was to me and I walked up and introduced myself and handed him the poem that is below. He gave it to Joel's wife Mary and she then read it to everyone at the funeral. Jimmy came up later and gave me a hug and thanked me.
We grew closer over the years and while we shared a rope faily often it was the sharing of our joy of being a dad that I will remember most. Jimmy loved his daughter more than anything in this world. I know that she was always on his mind every move he made on every adventure he had. I know it may take her years to (if ever) to understand how her daddy felt about climbing as well as how privelaged he felt to be a dad but I hope that Riley will someday read all that has been written about her dad and know that he was the kind of person that us dads hope our girls grow up and find for themselves. Jimmy was so much to so many people and I would only be adding to the huge numbers by sharing stories about how good of a climber and person he was. I just want his daughter to know that his favorite thing in life was her. As the years went on we talked less about climbing and more about our kids. That is how I will remember Jimmy. Our time on the rock together was just another way for us to have bragging contests about our kids.
The world lost a great climber, leader, man and most of all a great father when Jimmy fell. Many people lost a great friend. Andrea, to you I would say keep on keepin on. I was guiding you and your co worker the day you met Jimmy. Oh do I remember that. You two were like peas and carrots from that day forward. I know how much he cared about you and you him. I know you are hurting but you are a strong woman. I have seen so much pain since his passing and have been reluctant to write anything since it happened. That is largely because I don't know what to say or how to express what I feel but I read what you wrote (Andrea) and it made me think of the day we were out at POB and how Jimmy made us all laugh. He just knew how to take the edge off of any situation.
One last thing I will say is that if I have learned one thing from this experience and that is that I know I can't wait until tomorrow to tell those close to me that I love them and care about them. The loss of a friend is so hard and it affects us all in different ways. We all grieve in our own way. We all miss Jimmy and probably always will. Marcus and I went ice climbing this weekend and in the ten plus years I have known Marcus I have never seen him climb so gracefully as he did that day. Marcus has had such a hard time and he continues to struggle. Jimmy was family to him in every sense of the word. Through it all Marcus has tried to keep his head up and take care of his family at the same time. I am proud to have him as a friend and happy that he had the strength to go and bring Jimmy home. Jimmy lives in all of us and seeing Marcus flow over the stone and ice just reminded me of why we all do it. It takes us to that place where only those who do what we do can understand. I truly believe that Jimmy and Joel are up there somewhere roped up and climbing . I miss them both now but I am sure they are putting up some stuff for us to jump on when we get there.
So long Jimmy,
— The Meyer Family
There was only one Jimmy Ray. Every time I got his "have a nice day" message on his phone I laughed. He was so genuine, so honest, and such a good friend.
— Terry Andrews
My first contact with Jimmy was in Jan or Feb of 1990 when he and Joel made their first trip to Quartz... I recall it vividly as that was the day I did my first lead after following for almost 3 years I was scared spitless. Jimmy and Joel encouraged me and gave me a big hug afterward. Jimmy, on Feb 12, 1990, sent me a photo and an essay he wrote about it, and this was the very first time we ever me, he was such a special nice guy. I have it framed on my bedroom wall. Since then he has always been a wonderful friend. I will miss his long phone calls, his hugs, his encouragement, his scolding me because I don't like snakes. The videos of our trips to Hueco Tanks are a testament to his good humor, his dedication to his friends and his love of climbing. He made a special trip down there to back belay and film me while I followed my son on Indecent Exposure (after I looked at it for 9 years) the two of them decided I must do it and convinced me that they were absolutely going to prevent my taking that horrid swing. Jimmy made the tape for his brother Joel who was unable to make the trip with us that time. Jimmy came up and listened to me cry when I lost my Mom and I had to be strong for my family, we sat together at Lost Lake and grieved and remembered Joel when we lost his beloved brother. Jimmy was one of those treasured people who touched everyone around him for the better. He was an inspiration to be better. I will miss him. I loved Jimmy as if he was my own.
— Jane Bull
Video Euology to Jimmy (Download Video) 15mb windows media
— Chuck Lohn
Jimmy Ray touched a great many lives, including my own as we talked often and both served on the Central Texas Climbing Committee, the climber/park liaison group for Enchanted Rock that Jimmy recently gained a position on. Anyone who attended the recent Granite Gripper climbing comp at Enchanted Rock last month would remember Jimmy for being the charismatic M.C. of the event.
I felt compelled to journal the story of my and my now passed away new friend for at least my own accounts of my own journey though life but would like to share them in memory of Jimmy Ray. I had posted this verbatim on a local climbing forum but wanted to add it here as well to express the tremendous loss.
I first came to know Jimmy Ray in the summer of last year after the CTCC, of which I was a part of, undertook a controversially retro-bolting project on the backside of E-rock, from that a heated discussion was started on Erockonline.com of which I frequented. This topic drew Jimmy out from lurking to make his first post which detailed his perspective on the matter in which he expressed displeasure and concern for the direction it could set. I remember clearly that Jimmy started his post off with saying "Most of you don't know me from Adam" which was true, but that soon changed for me. I replied to Jimmy's post in depth and included a barrage of questions for him to help lead us to a better understanding of each other since we were on opposite sides of the issue. The volume of questions I asked prompted Jimmy to send me a private message with his phone number and asked for me to call, which I did. Jimmy and I talked extensively on climbing and management issues of which we were bot
Jimmy and I continued to talk before the second time I saw him which was a chance meeting at E-rock in December, on Sunday our groups both went to the Backside where Jimmy and I both "took some lumps" on the Shield as Jimmy would say. At the beginning of this year Jimmy had started to ask about the CTCC structure of which I helped him out to understand and we talked about, I had speculated that he might be contemplating running for a CTCC position in the last Spring which he later indicated to be the case. It was clear he was taking the pursuit most seriously.
Jimmy and I talked at great lengths about the '06-'08 committee of which I was considering on rerunning myself. I had been on the fence on the issue because I did not want to rerun by default, I thought there should be a good reason to do so. Jimmy's interest in the CTCC ended up being what I needed to convince myself to run since we both shared a similar vision and passion for climbing access and land management process issues that the CTCC dealt with and if we worked together I thought we could make some positive changes for the community. Many of our previous discussions had been about a need for improvement in these areas for E-rock and it seemed that if Jimmy and I worked together we could make something happen. Jimmy and I would not philosophically agree on all points but our discussions and debates were always on the best of terms.
In mid-June the CTCC results were announced and Jimmy and I were both elected. Jimmy called me, along with all the others on the committee that day to express his excitement as he was looking forward to our first meeting in July. Jimmy and I wanted to get right on the issues but I was the first to point out to the committee the need for Granite Gripper planning which helped get me set up to lead the event. As part of the first CTCC meeting Jimmy and I agreed to put off matters until after the Gripper in October but Jimmy had sent a loud and clear noticed at the meeting about his passion for improving management processes which was highlighted with an eloquent speech and presenting volumes of related written works that he brought to the meeting.
In August, the CTCC was faced with a new management issue relating to the '05 retro-bolting as one of the bolts had been pulled. This resulted in a flurry of e-mails including an extensive one by myself that provoked Jimmy to call me the next day. Jimmy appreciated the tone and content to my message and we discussed some of the points, Jimmy noted how we had similar traits in putting a great deal of effort into our written works about climbing issues. It was in this discussion that Jimmy pushed that we should meet up for climbing, he didn't seem to be fazed by my reminding him of the natural issues associated with his skills being far superior to my own.
In planning the '06 Gripper Jimmy was extremely helpful and would often call me up and ask what needed to be done, it removed a tremendous load and ended up improving the event, he joked that he'd run "interference" across the board to make sure deadlines were hit- it worked. The Gripper weekend was a fantastic one for me and certainly a time of high energy. I was so happy, pleased and proud for Jimmy in how he did the MC job, everything from his humor to his humbleness in dealing with an error that I created for him. One of the moments that I'll never forget wasn't anything special but as the dinner was winding down I went hunting for Jimmy to get the awards ceremony rolling. I was looking all over and couldn't find him until I finally saw him talking away with three of the park rangers in the parking lot, obviously laying a foundation for a working relationship with the park staff. I approached, grabbed Jimmy, apologized to the rangers and dragged him off to get the show going.
The next morning Jimmy and I were walking to the pavilion for our CTCC meeting and chatting about how the comp went and climbing in general when something happened that I never would have expected- in the course of our climbing talk I was inspired to say something about Yosemite and Jimmy replied he'd been many times. I prodded and asked him what he'd climbed out there- when he noted that he had climbed El Cap five times I was flabbergasted and interjected that it would be a miracle if I ever made it up once- without a moment of hesitation Jimmy retorted "we should go". I was speechless. Jimmy's response could have seemed off the cuff and for some people it would have had no substance but Jimmy was always sincere in what he said and he talked up some possibilities. I know I am no where near ready for such a Yosemite undertaking but I still contemplated what Jimmy's remarks really meant, after much consideration I concluded that it highlighted the value of our friendship to him as a
Jimmy and I talked a few times after the Gripper about starting the work of CTCC process improvement and decided that we'd meet at E-rock for climbing and talks in December. Jimmy had called me on his way down to Mexico, we discussed an assortment of topics including our writings and views on a recent online discussion of buzzard impact on the Backside that had become a hot topic as well as trying to iron out a date in December for us to meet at E-rock. That was the last time I talked with Jimmy.
I have been devastated having received news of Jimmy's passing, so much was lost. I view Jimmy's final climb just like I view the climbs of most, one doing what they need to do to be themselves to allow them to give what they can. For Jimmy Ray his climbing allowed him to be a passionate, intelligent, energetic person that could connect with others and to give back to the community in ways that few do. From my view he was bringing something to the table that no one else was, it is in this how I view Jimmy's passing as an irreplaceable loss to the community. I am devastated to have lost a new friend, someone that I connected with in so many ways. I am hollowed out for having plans with a friend that are no longer and that our much anticipated project together will never happen. I am saddened that I was never able to partner up for a climb with my new friend who I was honored to have known.
Jimmy was one of the best friends I've ever known, and one of the greatest most kind hearted individuals I've ever met. I am truly going to miss him and am very saddened that I will not be able to complete some of the projects that we were working on together, and to climb at some of the places he wanted to take me. He was always the kind of guy that I could talk to about anything. He had a way of lifting your spirit anytime that you were down, and was easy to talk to about relationships, life or climbing alike.
Jimmy was also the kind of guy who cared more about the climbing community than he did himself. He used to say that he was a "climbers climber". He climbed and established new routes so that others would have quality places to climb. Every time he placed a new bolt, he would always think about the next climber who would have to use it.
He wasn't just a climber, but an activist too. He worked to preserve the historic ethics of climbing as well as protecting the climbing resources in the North Texas and Oklahoma Areas. He wanted to make sure that future generations of climbers had the same resources that we have today. He felt very strongly about his beliefs and ethics and was one of the leading figures in preserving what we have.
He spent countless hours developing guide book information and had one of the most complete and comprehensive collections of information on Texas and Oklahoma climbing that has probably ever been written. His lust for life, and desire to climb and protect make him in my eyes one of the most valuable assets the climbing community in Texas and Oklahoma has ever seen.
— Ryan Ray
While I spent less time with Jimmy than others, the time I was around him stands out in my mind as memorable. I thought I’d share a few things…
One of my first experiences in meeting Jimmy was climbing at Lost Dome. I was there working on a route called Made in the Shade – a classic, but scary, Wichitas 5.11+. The kind of route you’d love to flash – even on top-rope. To lead it was a different story entirely. The gear consists of a bolt, two bashies and another bolt – in that order. Above the last bolt you step delicately through the crux before finessing through another 25 feet of climbing sans protection. A typical fall from the crux move above the last bolt is enough to make most people wet themselves. For that reason, I was working the moves on top-rope when Jimmy stepped around the corner. He was out exploring the backcountry on his own but just happened to have his climbing gear with him. We introduced ourselves – at that point I think we’d heard of each other but never really met. He asked if I minded him giving it a run. I was impressed by his style and his finesse on the rock. Though he fell a couple of times at the crux, he hung and worked it out, thinking through the crux. Back on the ground we talked about the crux that stumped us. “A little more work on top-rope for me,” I said. “I think I’ll give it another run tomorrow,” he said. I wished him good luck, thinking to myself, if it were me I don’t think I’d have better luck tomorrow. But this was Jimmy. I got a call later that week from him. Turns out that the next day he tied in and lead the route without a single fall. Then he climbed it twice more for good measure.
One time Jimmy pulled me aside at a Quartz Mountain trail building event. “I want to show you something I’ve been working on,” he said. He pulled out what amounted to a binder filled with pages upon pages of notes, graphs, tables, and topos of every known (and some unknown) route in the Wichitas. He explained this collective document he called the Beta Base. It included detailed, extremely detailed, technical notes, historical tales and editorial comments about each and every route. But it didn’t stop there. The book also contained routes in Yosemite and various other areas in Texas and Oklahoma. “You think I could do something with this,” he asked, “maybe put it online?” Put it online! Something that took him this amount of time and he wanted to give it away! Anyone else would have sought a publisher and gone straight to print to collect some payback. But not Jimmy – for him this was a labor of love – a hobby that complimented climbing and shared with others what he loved so much about the climbing life. I was still dizzy from the graph depicting the relationship between fauna hazards and climbing ratings – or something similar. “Of course,” I answered, “we could do that.” He informed me it wasn’t finished yet, it was a work in progress – he wanted to include every route in the Wichitas and that meant climbing every route – and he was well on his way. For Jimmy, climbing was always a work in progress; there was always room for improvement and goals to reach.
In reviewing his recently updated climbing log on rockclimbing.com (his most recent update was on 11/21/06) there are notes that say things like, “Missed the on-sight by one move... need to go back and clean that one up!” and “Looking forward to a return visit for the redpoint.” Jimmy was always looking ahead to another trip, another chance to improve his climbing and share experiences with friends. His log indicates that he remembered the routes he did and often whom he did them with – less of a score sheet and more as the documentation of an experience.
My most recent experiences were in working with Jimmy on the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition. Last summer the WMCC Board had a meeting with Refuge managers. Jimmy was his normal climber self – he showed up in a red t-shirt with cut-off sleeves. His hairy sun-bleached blonde and just long enough to look like trouble. He stood out in a room of regulation-dressed federal Rangers. Despite his renegade appearance the Rangers immediately accepted him. He demonstrated thoughtfulness, he approached each issue open-mindedly, and he was cool and professional throughout. I was impressed with his ability to identify with the Rangers and their obligations to the Refuge, he respected the job they did and was passionate that we, as climbers, were able to fit in with nature. He represented climbers well. And when the meeting was over and everyone shook hands and we stepped into the parking lot he smiled real big and asked, “Want to go climbing?”
Few climbers could rival Jimmy’s motivation for climbing. He was always excited about finding and climbing new routes. Jimmy approached climbing new routes from the ground up – and he encouraged the rest of us to do the same. He always said that the reward was so much greater in climbing in that way. Jimmy was on the Advisory Bolting Committee for the WMCC and he approved an application of mine to place two bolts on a route. When he asked about the line a few months later I told him I hadn’t made it out yet to complete it. “You going to do it on lead?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said, knowing full well that out of fear I probably would not. He read my expression. “You could do it, man,” he said, “just give me a call, I’ll come out and belay you. We’ll get it done together. It would be good.” I’ve thought about it and I think that I will brave the fear and put it up on lead - that’s the way Jimmy would do it.My knowledge of Jimmy was less than his close friends and family but I’ve read what other people have said about him and the comments are consistent. He was the same great person around all of us – whether you met him one time or knew him as a father, brother, son, uncle, husband, friend or other. We’ll be thinking about you, man.