Legendary N. Texas Rock Climber and Environmental Advocate, Jimmy Ray Forester, Dies in Fall at 43

Date: 12/15/2006

By Ryan Ray, Access Fund Regional Coordinator

The rock climbing community lost a legendary climber and environmental advocate on November 24 when Jimmy Ray Forester fell while climbing in El Potrero Chico in northern Mexico.

Forester, an experienced, talented and well-known climber, failed to return to camp after a climb on El Potrero Chico's "The scariest ride in the park", a 55-pitch 5.9 ridge route. When he didn't return after the early-morning climb, an attempt was made to view his progress with binoculars, and when unsuccessful, a search was initiated. He was found the next day at the base of the wall.

"Jimmy was an intelligent and super strong climber," said Ryan Ray, a Forester climbing partner. "He never put himself, or anyone else, in danger. This climb was well within his capabilities, so we can only speculate what might have happened. It could have been rockfall or a handhold that gave way."

Forester became an iconic figure throughout Oklahoma and Texas during his 17 years in the sport. He established his own characteristically ground-up, onsight style and was endued with a deep sense of climbing history and tradition that energized other climbers. According to his friends, he was also a consummate climbing teacher and mentor.

"Jimmy was the kind of guy who cared more about the climbing community than he did himself," said Ray. "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."

When he wasn't climbing, Forester was dedicated to protecting climbing resources and was an environmental activist. He served on the Board of Directors of the Wichita Mountains Climbing Coalition and the Central Texas Climbing Committee and was a strong supporter for the Access Fund, the only national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment.

"Jimmy worked to preserve the historic ethics of climbing as well as protecting the climbing resources in the North Texas and Oklahoma," said Ray. "He wanted to make sure that future generations of climbers had the same resources that we have today."

On his numerous climbs, Forester compiled hundreds of pages of route and historic data for a series of guide/history books that he planned to publish for the climbing community. "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," says Ray.

Forester leaves behind one daughter, Riley, age 4. To learn about memorial fund that has been set up in her name go to FriendsofForester.com. "Jimmy was the kind of dad who wanted to see his daughter have a great life," says Ray. "He worked hard for her, and always gave her the best that he could. Setting up the fund was one way his many friends could support him."

A memorial website with updated information has been created at www.friendsofforester.com

To make a donation benefiting his daughter Rylie please visit any Chase Bank branch and deposit to "Friends of Forester"!

Donations can also be mailed to:
Friends of Forester
c/o Chase
16831 Coit Road
Dallas, Texas 75248

For questions, contact the account officer, David Ploof at Chase Bank Dallas branch, 972-407-3415.