Jimmy Ray Forester, 1963-2006
Jimmy was one of the coolest guys I’ve ever had the privilege to climb with. He was one of the regulars at Stoneworks Silos, the climbing gym in Carrollton, TX where I’ve whiled away too many sweltering, sultry summer nights to count.
In fact, that gym was my formative gym, and the guys who climbed there my formative idols, grizzled old guys who’d been around as long as the rocks they were climbing on. Always humble and perpetually grinning in their easy ways as climbers sweated and huffed in the stifiling Dallas air, their drawled comments laconic and chock full of cowboy wisdom, they was good people.
Everyone had a nickname — Big Steve, Skinny Richard, Bearded Steve, Linda Lee, Stone Face Laura, Jazz (the human, not to be confused with Jazz the dog), Chuck Kwon Sherpa, and Dane (ok, Dane didn’t have a nickname; you could climb anywhere in the southwest and someone would know Dane).
We called Jimmy “the Jedi”. He’d climbed the hardest, survived the scariest, seen the most, and was the calmest, humblest person in the entire place. To me, he had more climbing knowledge in his pinky than I’d ever be able to claim. And he was willing to share it with me, the complete gumby n00b, and even belay me on piddling gym routes, always with the zen-master-like advice that unlocked techniques and routes that should have been beyond me.
On real rock, it was no secret that if you had a project and wanted guaranteed success, you would invite Jimmy. We didn’t call him “cheater stick” for nothing.
I’m having a hard time believing that I’m writing about him in the past tense. In my mind, he’ll always be part of the bedrock of Southern climbing.
We’ll miss you Jimmy. RIP.