Horrible news as we learn of the death of a friend and long-time Wichita Mountain climbing icon Jimmy Forester. Details are still coming in but what is known is that Jimmy fell while soloing a route in El Potrero Chico, Mexico on November 24. At this point we don’t know the exact cause of the fall but it is believed that he was on a climb called The Scariest Ride in the Park (5.9x), a long ridge traverse that begins in Virgin Canyon and continues to the top of El Toro, in total a 40+ pitch climb. If this is indeed the climb it makes sense that Jimmy picked it – it had adventure written all over it.
For those who didn’t know him, Jimmy was a bold climber – he relished the daring aspects that climbing presented. He was a true adventurer. Every bit a hard-core climber. Many times he found obscure lines just to uncover a long forgotten gem. He liked doing the climbs others were scared of – not to prove a point to others but more as a goal for himself. He sought climbs that presented the most challenge. He was one who admired what others had accomplished in climbing and aspired to test himself. He could just as easily be found big-wall climbing in Yosemite or the Black Canyon of the Gunnision, trad climbing at Enchanted Rock, exploring Charons Gardens for new stone, or crusing an old favorite in the Narrows.
As a climbing activist and naturalist Jimmy held great respect for the wild and for climbers as stewards of the environment. Jimmy was thoughtful and well-reasoned yet held a great sense of humor that made you comfortable around him instantly. Earlier this month I’d been in contact with him about some WMCC website stuff – he was his normal positive self, willing to help in whatever way possible. He was always one to step-up if you needed something.
My biggest regret is that I did not get to climb with Jimmy more. In hearing his stories and through the stories conveyed by frequent climbing partners he was a great person to climb with – always encouraging, always motivated.
Jimmy shared his stories through writing and through his ever-expanding catalog of climbs he dubbed the “Beta Base.” His goal was to one day reveal this massive collection of climbing tech notes, topos, and musings about routes, moves, and gear to the masses in a totally free forum. I remember him pulling me aside one day at a Quartz Mountain trail building day and saying, “Hey, I want you to check this out.” He revealled a massive binder stuffed with pages upon pages of details on every climb in the Wichitas – I’d never seen anything like it. It was impressive to say the least. One of my hopes is that we (his climbing bros) will be able to take over Jimmy’s Beta Base venture where he left off and share with everyone what he worked so hard on. In essence, his catalog of climbing is representative of what he loved so much about the life of climbing.