Brian McCray

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ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
California
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 25, 2014 - 07:42am PT
You will be sorely missed Brian McCray.



Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Aug 25, 2014 - 07:47am PT
the 'something specials'
are always just passing thru.

they get it all said and done
in less time than those
whom coax life from their heart.

admiration and respect
to mr. McCray, and to
you as well mr. Mcneely.
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Aug 25, 2014 - 07:47am PT
What!? That sucks. Never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I've stared at his creations from safer ground many times.
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Aug 25, 2014 - 08:57am PT
Michelle

Social climber
1187 Hunterwasser
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:08am PT
Very sad :(
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:12am PT

Sad News indeed :(
karen roseme

Mountain climber
Bishop
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:14am PT
This is such sad news.
You are right Brian will be missed! He was such a great spirt, so fun to be around!
Great pictures Ammon. Thank you so much for sharing them.
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:17am PT
Condolences to all. I did not know the man, the person, but it looks like he will leave behind a strong remembrance. A legacy in his own right.
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:22am PT
Sad day. I'll be sure to climb a route in Zion in honor of Flyin Brian this year.
Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Menlo Park
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:27am PT
o man , bad news .

Is it too soon to ask what happened , he looked quite young .
The Larry

climber
Moab, UT
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:28am PT
Such a sad day. I was just thinking of Brian a couple of days ago. I'll miss you brother.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:43am PT
Sorry for your loss Ammon and for the loss of the entire climbing community when one of its good ones falls. Sad day. I used to always like reading of his exploits in little snippets in the mags.
coolrockclimberguy69

climber
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:48am PT
Bad ass motherf*#ker. Not too many people can claim to have established 5.14 and A5. A true adventurer.

I first met him in the Caf right after he soloed Surgeon General (or PSD?). He had this nasty ropeburn in the crook of his elbow from a huge fall he took on the route.

Fly on, Brian.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 25, 2014 - 10:11am PT
So sorry to hear this. I hung out with him socially a couple of times. Nice guy. What a bad ass climber! More climbing talent in his little pinky...

Condolences to friends and family.
More Air

Trad climber
S.L.C.
Aug 25, 2014 - 10:18am PT
Very sad...great guy who was at the leading edge of big wall climbing, especially in Zion, hard aid, hard free and speed.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Aug 25, 2014 - 10:24am PT
Pirate, sorry for your loss here man.

My condolences to all Brian's family and friends. It's tough to lose one so talented and loved.

Sometimes the most interesting of us leave too soon.
rox

Trad climber
Flagstaff
Aug 25, 2014 - 10:35am PT
Thank Ammon & Kurt for the pics! So nice to see that smiling face! hugs hugs
Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA/Joshua Tree
Aug 25, 2014 - 10:43am PT
Sh#t,

He was one of the greats. Had some fun times with him. Both on and off the rock.

When he got his house in Vegas we went furniture shopping and found this amazing glass curio cabinet at this sketchy store but it was perfect for holding all his gems and minerals he loved so much. Transporting that thing back to his place was an epic in and of itself.

He was one of the truly nicest and smartest guys I've had the pleasure of knowing and hanging with, brief as it was.

He never really climbed much in the Sierra but came over to the Portal and we did Bony Fingers on the Whale. Of course he walked it.

Dammit. Can't believe he's gone.
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Aug 25, 2014 - 10:49am PT
*
*
I never knew Brian, but would like to send out my Condolences to his friends and Family..

~Rest in Peace~
*
*
this just in

climber
north fork
Aug 25, 2014 - 10:54am PT
Best regards to all who knew him.
maldaly

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Aug 25, 2014 - 10:56am PT
Sorry to see you go... Safe journeys my friend.
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Aug 25, 2014 - 11:11am PT
elcap-pics

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
Aug 25, 2014 - 11:14am PT
Very sorry to hear this tragic news. I knew Brian when he and Rox had a big run in Yosemite several years ago.. he was one of the great ones and we are better for having known him... so many are leaving early in our community these days... very sad indeed.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 25, 2014 - 11:29am PT
We shared some good times, and some absolutely miserable moments way out on the edge. Brian was a unique and amazing individual, so much more of a person than simply being an uber rock climber. Poet, writer, thinker, critic, miner, explorer, artist; art, book and mineral collector, rigger, prankster, cobbler, the list goes on.


Thanks for sharing the ride and being my friend,
Brian, you were one of a kind.

Albert




Binks

climber
Uranus
Aug 25, 2014 - 11:30am PT
I only met him once. He had a grip of steel, an offbeat sense of humour, one tough dude. RIP
The Lisa

Trad climber
Da Bronx, NY
Aug 25, 2014 - 11:34am PT
My condolences to his family and friends. The world has lost a Renaissance man.
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Aug 25, 2014 - 11:41am PT
Thanks for the photo tributes to our friend, Ammon and Kurt.

One of my favorite walls ever was a push of Bad Seed on El Cap, with Brian and Hans Florine. Brian hiked the hard aid pitches quickly. Hans and I barely had a chance to drink a bit of water and have a quick snack before we were moving again. Now that Brian is no longer with us, I will treasure the memory of that spectacular day all the more.

My condolences to his friends and family.
Wicks

Big Wall climber
Salt Lake City
Aug 25, 2014 - 11:54am PT
What sad news to hear today. A true adventurer and someone I always looked up to in the climbing community. Flyin' Brian will be missed and never forgotten. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
Aug 25, 2014 - 12:09pm PT
"I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings."

~Mary Oliver


My deepest condolences to all who knew and beheld the beauty of Mr. McCray.


~LM
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 25, 2014 - 12:09pm PT
Brian had an outrageous sense of humor and we shared many a laugh over the last decade.

Here's a sample of some of the many fun emails we enjoyed. This was back when the feds were seeking input for the Red Rock management plan.

Levy

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Aug 25, 2014 - 12:10pm PT
Damn, this just sucks to hear about. Brian was so solid as a climber. Terrible news.
bob

climber
Aug 25, 2014 - 12:40pm PT
Very sad. Best wishes to all family, friends, and anyone influenced by this man's life.

Bob J.
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Aug 25, 2014 - 12:40pm PT
I wrote this this morning for my dear friend Brian McCray. He will be missed so much. Fly my friend

I lost my friend. So many people knew you as this bold, salty, strong, tell it like it is machine. I knew you as my friend. I met you at the tender age of 17, and instantly you made an impact. You took me under your wing, seeing something in me that no one else saw, not even myself. You tested me, you shaped me, you helped me realize what you saw. Life seemed a little easier with you just a step away. Not just as my climbing partner, but as my friend. So many events that marked my life, you where there in full support, ready to go to battle with me. We talked about our fascination with the “dark art” that is adventure climbing. We knew that it wouldn't get you or I, but we had to find our own edge. As I laid in a hospital bed not knowing if I would walk again, climb again, or be able to play with my 2 year old son again, you visited me nearly every day. I knew I was in bad shape when I saw you at my bed side. You didn't do this. People were too much hassle. You stayed for hours daily. Having you there did so much more then any medicine could have ever done. You supported me. You helped an 23 year old, with tubes and wires, with broken bones and a broken spirit, sit up for the first time since the accident. You brought my 2 year old son comfort while his Daddy laid there in agony. When it was time for rehab, you called to check my progress. You pushed me. You made me fight. You brought my hero, Jim Bridwell to my house to wish me well. You guys made fun of my wheelchair as we devoured a whole box of fudge pops listening to Jim tell stories of climbs that we have dreamt about, and ones that you would climb in record pace.
I miss you my friend. Why now? Why does our story have to end now? How do I venture up to these cliffs without you? I always knew that no matter what I climbed myself into, you would be able to get me out. No matter what life struggle, my friend was there to help me shoulder the load, march into battle, and fight. To give it the best fight you can give, and not take no for an answer.
I have so many memories of you. Climbs that have yet to be repeated thanks to the hard work, level head, and just plain insane way you approached them. Some of these moments will never be shared. Words cannot describe the emotion behind them. Words do it so little justice. Those will remain locked inside my head, the way I remember them, protected from the way the world would want to portray them. I do remember how you comforted me when my grandmother got sick. She had days to live. You knew I couldn't be home. You took me out to your secret crag. The hours it took to drive out there we sat in silence. We arrived around 10 at night. I was still in so much pain from my accident. I couldn't walk without sticks, and you carried the bag to the base of the wall. We sat there all night talking, laughing and crying under the canopy of stars and an overhanging limestone cliff illuminated by the glow of our camp fire. I felt my grandmother leave the earth. You sat there and held me. I will never forget that moment. Weeks later we returned to that very cliff. You held the rope as I nervously started up the scrappy cliff. My first lead since breaking myself almost to the point of failure. I clipped the anchor after 30 minutes of the most terrifying 100 feet of my life. You lowered me to the ground, and the energy level couldn't have been higher. You grabbed me, we screamed, we both knew that I was going to be ok. The KurtBurt and Brian show would go on.
So many things I want to say to you. Not the why’s. I know why. I want to tell you thank you. I want to tell you than you made a profound impact on an over anxious kid, with dreams bigger then the world. Thank you for making those dreams come true. For helping me realize what potential I have inside of me. I want to tell you good bye. I want to see in your eyes that you believe that I will be alright. That I have what it takes. You where a true friend. Not many of those left anymore. Good bye my friend, may the next journey fill your soul with the light that you gave so many back here. I will miss you, and I love you.

"When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with
fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more
time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."
-Tecumseh (Shawnee)
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 25, 2014 - 12:48pm PT
wow

terrible news
bob

climber
Aug 25, 2014 - 12:49pm PT
Thank you for sharing that Burt. I am sorry for your loss.
Rankin

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
Aug 25, 2014 - 12:54pm PT
This is really sad news. :( My condolences to Brian's friends and family.

I knew Brian from West Virginia and the season I lived in the Valley. He was an amazing climber, a true Hard Man, but he was also approachable, friendly, and encouraging. RIP Brian.

the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 25, 2014 - 01:11pm PT
Thanks for sharing that, KurtBurt. Rest assured Brian knew we loved him.

Brian was without doubt among the most talented and skilled of persons to ever scale a rock face. It always saddened me how lamely the mainstream climbing media portrayed Brian. Those of you that only knew Brian through the media caught a shallow, agenda-driven glimpse of a most complex, caring, kind and deep-thinking individual. Brian was in his own league.



Edit: klaus if it's any help, Brian told me numerous times that he had thorough respect for your talents and your El Cap routes.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Aug 25, 2014 - 01:25pm PT
hey there say.... oh no... very sad, for the loss of your dear friend, ammon... :(

deep condolences to his family and loved ones... :(
prayers for his family, as they move on through this sadness... :(

edit:
oh my, dear burt... just read your story, i don't know you, but i will surely put in some extra prayer time, and help support someone, in this way,
as you move on without this dear friend... :(
Magic Ed

Trad climber
Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Aug 25, 2014 - 01:45pm PT
Oh, no, not Flyin' Brian!!! Sad, sad news.

He left some great routes in the Potrero.
rockgeir

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Aug 25, 2014 - 01:46pm PT
Today I am wearing my Fly'n Brian t shirt. It was by chance. Someone unfamiliar with climbing asked me what the shirt was about and I told them about Brian with enthusiasm.

When I got word of Brian's passing I was truly saddened. I only met Brian a handful of times, but he was very kind and encouraging to me. I have been sending my shoes to him for around 15 years, and with every pair he returned came a thoughtful email. I asked his advice on climbing stuff from time to time and he was always generous in sharing his sage advice.

Sincere condolences to his friends and family. What a great man. He will be greatly missed.

Geir Hundal
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Aug 25, 2014 - 02:35pm PT
Hopefully you will get a chuckle out of this story, Klaus...

In the late 90's when Brian was really starting to 'fly' up El Cap routes, he had a conversation with Klaus about what he was up to. Klaus told Brian that no one was ever going to do one of his routes IAD. Brian didn't say a word. But he did have some new objectives.


Here are some of his El Cap records;

Flight of the Albatross 14:50
with Hans Florine and Kelly Simard

Muir Wall 19:56
with Nils Davis

Wall of Early Morning Light 23:43
With Ammon

The Atlantic Ocean Wall 23:38
with Ammon

Plastic Surgery Disaster 21:37
with Ammon

Get Whacked 12:49
with Ammon

Bad Seed 19:12
with Hans Florine and Wayne Willoughby
Tonihammes

Social climber
Las Vegas
Aug 25, 2014 - 03:03pm PT
I met Brian about 6 years ago when he started to bring his dog to our vet hospital. I liked Brian so much! I am shocked & saddened to hear of his passing. I just saw him a couple of weeks ago. I wish I had known how sad he was inside. It's not that we were great friends or anything, but I guess I would have told him he wasn't alone. So very tragic.

I found out about Brian's passing when our local shelter called to get some information on his dog, Diesel. Those of you who knew Brian know that Diesel wasn't just a dog to him. Diesel was family! Brian adored that dog, and Diesel adored Brian!! They told me that there is a ten day hold on Diesel, and that one of Brian's friends or family might take him. I'm really hoping that someone in Brian's life will take Diesel. I know how he felt about him & know he would not want Diesel in a shelter.

Our shelter here is overrun with Pit Bull type dogs. I have asked them to contact me if no one is able to take him. If anyone out there has any questions about him feel free to call me at 702-838-0700

My heart goes out to all of Brian's family & friends. I hope he is at peace!
redrocker

climber
NV
Aug 25, 2014 - 03:10pm PT
Can't claim to be anymore than an acquaintance of Brian's. Wish I had know him better but his abilities were so far out of my wheelhouse that that just wasn't gonna happen. At least not in the climbing world.

That said, he always struck me as the kind of guy that even the best at our game would puff out their chest's and say "Brian McCray, oh yeah, he's a good friend of mine".

Hard to believe he's really gone. :-(
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Aug 25, 2014 - 03:21pm PT
Sad news. Good thoughts going out to family and friends.
Erik
RP3

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
Aug 25, 2014 - 03:44pm PT
Oh my goodness. What terrible news. Deepest condolences to family and friends. The world seems to have lost another beautiful person.
deuce4

climber
Hobart, Australia
Aug 25, 2014 - 04:03pm PT
Condolences.

Awesome dude. I met him a few times in Zion. Full of vibrant energy, he lived with passion.

Really sad news.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 25, 2014 - 04:15pm PT
Geir thanks for the notes and reminder about those classic shirts.







redrocker

climber
NV
Aug 25, 2014 - 04:20pm PT
Kind of silly...but now, in hindsight, a little weird.

This past Friday I walk into to my local UPS store to mail a package. There's a guy there in front of me in line and we make eye contact. He does a second take and says to me "Brian?". I answer back "No, my names not Brian". He says "Oh sorry, you look like a friend of mine, Brian McCray". I reply "Oh wow, that's funny because I know Brian too but I haven't seen him in awhile".

To make a long story even longer, we go on talking about Brian and other mutual friends that we have in common then he goes his way and I go mine and I don't really give it another thought.

Then today I see this thread about Brian's passing (on Saturday apparently) and now that brief exchange with the random stranger in the UPS store makes me say WTF!?

Even though we both have long hair and goatees I've never been mistaken for Brian McCray before. Stupid I know...but still kinda eerie now.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Aug 25, 2014 - 04:46pm PT
My sincere condolences to his friends and family,
Brian McCray was an inspiration to us all,

Jim Donini once told me, " Yeah, Brian is the real deal"

Wish I had gotten to know him, saddened.

Check on your friends y'all, this sh!t sucks.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 25, 2014 - 04:49pm PT
Thanks for sharing that intriguing encounter redrocker.

Here's an excerpt from around six years ago.




Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Aug 25, 2014 - 04:58pm PT
Good by Brian.

What is it about the mentality that drives people to climb, and also drives a disproportionate number to suicide? I could name a bunch, but this is not the place.

RIP
thebravecowboy

climber
in the face of the fury of the funk
Aug 25, 2014 - 05:00pm PT
No connection to the man other than word of mouth. I do understand and admire and wish he coulda stuck it out 'til the flipside. Nothing like a firearm or a bigazz cliff to enable permanent decisions from temporary sentiment. Condolences to the bereaved.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 25, 2014 - 05:26pm PT
I'm so sorry for your loss, Ammon. I know you guys were good friends, and you sure as hell did some amazing climbs.

I never even had the chance to meet Brian! Dang. How sad for everyone.

My condolences to all of Brian's friends and family.
NBB

Social climber
Boulder
Aug 25, 2014 - 05:31pm PT
Top of Native Son, July 1996.

See you on the other side.

GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Aug 25, 2014 - 05:42pm PT
Wish I had met him. Heard so many amazing thing. Hurts the way he left. I wish I knew more about our world :(
Evel

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Aug 25, 2014 - 06:22pm PT
Just home from my work day and see this. Well sh#t.

Brian and I lived together at the New. A real hard man in every sense of the term.

This sucks.

Via Con Dios, Brother.
rockgeir

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Aug 25, 2014 - 06:25pm PT
Albatross, that is the shirt! Thanks for posting the picture up. Brian sent me mine a few years ago as a gift. I gingerly put it in the closet today and plan on bringing it out when I need a little extra inspiration for a hard send. Thanks for posting it up.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Aug 25, 2014 - 06:32pm PT
Very sad that another great man felt compelled to such a final decision . . . a courageous soul has flown free of his torment. Peace to Brian and his friends and family.

Rankin

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
Aug 25, 2014 - 06:52pm PT
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Aug 25, 2014 - 06:58pm PT
RIP Flyin' Brian, RIP.
up2top

climber
Phoenix, AZ
Aug 25, 2014 - 07:10pm PT
F@uck. Very sorry to hear this. I never met Brian, but he was an absolute legend. Ammon, I know how much time you spent with him sharing a rope. I'm very sorry for your loss and the loss for the entire climbing community.
Rankin

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
Aug 25, 2014 - 07:35pm PT
In the the early-to-mid 1990's there were no 5.14's at the New River Gorge, and very little if any in the East. I can't remember the quote exactly or where it came from, but the jist was that there was no 5.14 at the New, but that the rock was merely waiting for the proper soul to establish it.

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/proper-soul/107337912"]http:/http://www.mountainproject.com/v/proper-soul/107337912[/url]
Gagner

climber
Boulder
Aug 25, 2014 - 07:59pm PT
Man, really sad news. Brian was such a great, motivated, psyched bad a$$. I really enjoyed the times I spent with him, but sadly as much as we talked about doing a route together it never happened. Bummed not to have shared a rope with such a good and solid climber, and person.

RIP Brian!
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Aug 25, 2014 - 08:06pm PT
Peace to all of his friends and family.
Gilroy

Social climber
Bolderado
Aug 25, 2014 - 08:16pm PT
Indeed. Peace, Love, Dove from the Texas Tribe.

Carry on.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:12pm PT
never shared a rope. but did share lots of laughs and coughs.

Bummer indeed!

Condolences to Brian's Family..



edit, was there a news link somewhere?
redrocker

climber
NV
Aug 25, 2014 - 09:34pm PT
As I said earlier I didn't know Brian all that well so I don't pretend to be able to speak to who he really was in any personal way. Even so I do have one story that, for me, reinforced the positive impression I'd always had of him.

It's a typical winter day of sport climbing in the Calico Hills at Red Rock (or Red Rocks if you prefer) at the Stratocaster Wall. Shortly after arriving I asked my partner about a 2 bolt anchor, equipped with some very sun bleached webbing, located on an obscure area of the cliff that sees very little traffic. My buddy recalled climbing the route years before and remembered that although he thought that it was only rated 5.11 something he found it to be quite hard and scary and he would never be getting on it again. Lol.

Just another casual, social, low commitment, fun in the sun, sport climbin' day at Red Rock.

Brian and Burt were there that day too. Halfway through the day Brian (with Burt on belay) takes a "break" from the new 5.13 route he'd been working to fix the anchor on the aforementioned climb. He'd come to the crag that day with chains and quick links prepared to clean up the manky mess.

Brian was there, just like the rest of us, for a fun day clipping bolts with friends...but, unlike the rest of us, Brian was also there to perform an act of selfless service for the benefit of those who would come after.

Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Aug 25, 2014 - 11:54pm PT
A very sad day for everyone. Always a big smile, always a kind word, always a big adventure. so sorry to hear this........
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Aug 26, 2014 - 01:22am PT
As for diesel Brian's loyal companion, he is home and safe. I lay next to him this very moment, and his heart is as heavy as all of ours. Thank you all for the kind words in remembering Brian for who he is, and how he has touched so many of you.
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Aug 26, 2014 - 04:31am PT
i just saw a new constellation.
it could be a coincidence, but i doubt it.

rad.
that's what i want to be when i grow up:
a constellation.
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
Aug 26, 2014 - 04:44am PT
This is some pretty effed up news...I haven't seen Brian in years, but I thought he'd be around longer....like Tom, I haven't hung out with him since he & Roxanne blitzed the Valley years ago. I don't want to count the friends lost by their own hand. It's getting longer, and the trend scares me.
Anyone, if you're lost, reach out. It's important. If not to you, then to those that love you.
I'm glad I got to know you, Flyin Brian.
ron puterbaugh

climber
Aug 26, 2014 - 05:53am PT
I remember Brian telling me about that climb fall.He said ,Iwas falling and realized the grigri was not locking because the rope was running around the elbow and joint so he spread eagle like a skydiver and the grigri lock up.He then broke out with the McCray impish smile and laugh.

Miss you Brian
Harrison

climber
Aug 26, 2014 - 06:29am PT
So sorry to hear of the loss of a great guy who was always there to share stories with and lend a helping hand. My dad & I always enjoyed running into Brian and sharing adventure stories about the Nevada desert. He was one of those guys that got out there in the world and did some amazing things. He will be greatly missed.

-Lisa & Richard Harrison
Avery

climber
NZ
Aug 26, 2014 - 06:33am PT
I didn't know Brian, but i feel the loss.
Rankin

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
Aug 26, 2014 - 06:50am PT
Burt, thanks for the update on Diesel. That was really messing with me.
xzaclee

Trad climber
virgin, ut
Aug 26, 2014 - 06:52am PT
Any funeral service being planned?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Aug 26, 2014 - 06:58am PT
So sad to hear this horrible news. Brian was a fabulous climber and a great guy. There is so much that goes on behind the closed door of a person's mind that we aren't privy to.
crankster

Trad climber
Aug 26, 2014 - 07:21am PT
So sorry to hear. Sounds like a great guy.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Aug 26, 2014 - 07:58am PT
Wise words Jim.
Binks

climber
Uranus
Aug 26, 2014 - 09:16am PT
Bump for Brian's route Sauron's Eye

I've been intrigued by it ever since I heard about the route and saw Ammon's pictures. Maybe I will try it one day. That 4th pitch roof looks amazing.


mrs bon groppolly

climber
FlagSTAFF
Aug 26, 2014 - 09:18am PT
I lived at Brushy Run in Seneca Rocks, WV in the early 90s for a couple years. Life there was so fun and heartful with the small climbing community that included Brian (new as a climber), Eric Anderson, John Govi, Jim Cirilano, Tom Cecil, myself (Alison Hutter), Tony and Karen Barnes, and others: a true Mayberry. It was the best two years of my life and Brian was a big part of it. I will miss him. This earth is quite a bit less unique without him here. RIP brother. See you some day on the other side.
rockgeir

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Aug 26, 2014 - 10:07am PT
Rankin,

I was also glad to hear Diesel is safe and cared for.

I really like reading all of these stories about Brian. The outpouring of love and respect for him is both well-deserved and good to see.
Crista

climber
Las Vegas, Nevada
Aug 26, 2014 - 10:47am PT
He was like a brother. Always accepting, humble, and there if you needed him. I first met him as a tag-along on a climbing trip with Brian and a friend. I was 19 years old, and had joined the climbing community desperately seeking the bonds I had difficulty creating in my family life. We were then friends, neighbors, and occasional climbing partners. When I met the man I would end up marrying, he gave him the scrutiny that any father would have, then they became fast friends. I have more pictures of Brian wrestling with my pup Utah on the ground then I can count. She passed away after 10 years this past January. It makes me happy to think they have each other to keep company on the other side. Although lost himself, he always took the time to find a light for us other lost souls.

He will be severely missed.


the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 26, 2014 - 01:41pm PT
Miss this guy:

dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
Aug 26, 2014 - 04:09pm PT
Brian sounds like an amazing human being. Beautiful words Burt. Very sorry for you and Cristas and Ammons loss. Hope any friends and family reading this thread can feel some healing from these great stories about his life.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
Aug 26, 2014 - 04:59pm PT
Oh man, I never got to meet the guy. Sounded like the type of dude you would want to meet. Just heard legendary tales of him. Another time and another place, safe travels.
rox

Trad climber
Flagstaff
Aug 26, 2014 - 06:44pm PT
I am so happy to read all the acknowledgement and respect for Brian, his amazing climbing abilities and feats. He seemed to never believe to be noticed for his accomplishments—because he chose not to market them—but obviously his being noticed now. Wish he could read all your comments.

He loved climbing and it brought him to life. He was a bold adventurer who delighted in discussing a delicate placement on a solo A5 as he did one of his first ascent sport routes.

I loved listening to him jabber on about his climbs, always onto the next project. He shared many new route possibilities and adventures with me. Our first big adventure was Half Dome, when I did not even know how to place gear. For months he explained how to clean a traverse or pendulum, bought me the Big Walls book by John Middendorf and John Long and explained the bad form of bailing. I was determined to see that wall through, and luckily got to climb walls with him in Yosemite, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan before it was over. We spent months scouring The Red for new routes and put up routes together in the New River Gorge every winter with neck warmers on our drills so the batteries didn’t die.

Climbing the aid routes on the Rainbow Wall in Red Rocks was his idea. But he sent me up on the crux pitch of Sergeant Slaughter and then we pulled the rope and gear over and over until I sent the crux of Emerald City. He was just as psyched for me as he would have been for himself. He knew my abilities better than me and once told me I could’ve climbed harder if I’d just been a sport climber. I wouldn’t give up any of it to climb harder.

Though our relationship was notoriously rocky, the time we spent on the rock was magnificent. He gave me the same hard-nosed and loving training he did all his trainees. He helped me enjoy climbing to the fullest. It’s been a long time since I hung out with Flyn’ Brian. At a Red Rock Rendezvous awhile back we talked and laughed about the great times we had. And most recently at two of our dear friends’ wedding he hugged me and shook my spouses hand, introduced me to Flo. It was a precious moment. He knew how to take the higher ground. Thanks Flyn'. May you be at peace now.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Aug 26, 2014 - 07:17pm PT
Did not know him, but the pictures show such a man filled with so much life, so much energy. Terribly sorry for his friends and family....may you all find peace somehow through his loss.
Pam Roberts
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Aug 26, 2014 - 07:21pm PT
Roxanna...what a wonderful tribute to your time together. Life has many twists and turns and relationships blossom and fade but we are all better off recalling the magnetisim that brings us together.....nothing is forever.
sweetDADDYp

climber
Aug 26, 2014 - 07:21pm PT
Rox. it is the truth. a daring adventurer exploring the abyss. GMC Wall, RRG, Motherlode, ca. 1998
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 26, 2014 - 07:32pm PT
It has been a struggle to decide what (and if) to share any stories about our crazed adventures and the amazing friendship I shared with Brian. Brian told me for years to avoid sites such as this and to ignore the climbing media "parasites". At the same time, I know the media sharks are circling, smelling blood in the water and looking for a good story so they can make a buck and see their name in print.

My purpose in sharing some of these stories, along with the others who actually knew and respected Brian, is so the world may come to understand that Brian was so much more than an incredibly talented climber - and the salty-gruff maniac which he has been consistently portrayed in the rags, in fact he was a very evolved man in most senses. He was indeed the amazing person and more that has come alive in this thread over the last couple days. The last thing in the world I seek to do is dishonor the memory of this great warrior and his brief time in our lives.


Brian and I spent several weeks underground, exploring various abandoned mines across the SW. Those were some wild, out of this world experiences, in some ways like those big walls we climbed, but with far less chance of a rescue and the consequences of any mistake much more serious. We'd spend many hours on the phone, emails and internet planning our missions. It was an unusual life experience to delve into and something I wouldn't trade for the world.

Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Aug 26, 2014 - 08:09pm PT
Good sh#t albatross . . . bummer deal here.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 26, 2014 - 09:42pm PT
It's cool to hear the stories from so many people who noticed the brilliance of Brian McCray.
Here's a glimpse of his glow:





Can't remember what miserable little rat hole this was in, but do recall spending a lot of time talking about life that weekend.
horsethief

Sport climber
garden grove ca
Aug 26, 2014 - 11:56pm PT
Brian I just tried to call you. As usual Its been awhile since we talked, a'lot has come together for me. I was excited to let you know that i finally got a place of my own in Japatul SD, and that my door was always open for you here. I wanted you to know how much I appreciated the times you let me stay there in Vegas with you when I was on the outs. Of course I wanted to remind you that I'm still holding you to that lead up the rainbow wall you owe me for that HILTI, however dreadful the approach. But mostly I just wanted to hear your voice and collaborate on the deep soul brother issues we share. I was desperate enough to email you... and I seen the news… my heart is crushed…Brian was the salt of the earth, hard to beat that smile. Ill see you soon my friend. I'm still holding you to that climb!
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 27, 2014 - 12:04am PT
^^^Beauty Bro!

wish i could've climbed with him
jludes

climber
Aug 27, 2014 - 02:13am PT
Yo Albatross,

There is nothing at all wrong with informing the climbing public about the nature of Flyin' Brian. Indeed, it's a wonderful tribute to a man who lacked the accolades he deserved in his life, and to convey to people information to those who did not know him.

I understand that Brian may not have like social media. But we all know he was astute enough to know that those who loved him would not and should not keep from sharing stories about his nature and exploits, with his passing.

Brian trimmed his life a bit short for whatever reason, but no one should be faulted or feel uneasy about talking about what took place prior to this abbreviated ending. I think there is some wisdom to be gleamed from his beautiful and tragic life, and this is all up to us. It's what we are left with to figure out. Rest in peace McCray.

John
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Aug 27, 2014 - 06:17am PT
i'm gonna highjack this thread
and talk about myself.

with complete respect to mr. McCray,
i'd like to discuss the false state.

donini's note on the inner-workings
of a person's mind well introduces my discussion,

There is so much that goes on behind the closed door of a person's mind that we aren't privy to.

i, like bryan (as some of you have suggested,)
have a hyper and vivid imagination.
i call it the false state, not implying negativity.

it is a hands off world, where you make, break, and freestyle reality.
it can be wonderful, but it can also turn turgid.

i have runs where i fail to check back in with the real state,
and my heart and mind go transient and divergent.
it is in these times where interpersonal and inner-personal
struggles abound.

to be completely honest, i use and abuse
supertopo and all of you as therapy agents
for i like my doors open,
and i need the lot of you inside my drama,
for then i reconnect with the warm side of life.

our false state has it's place in our journey.
it is a necessary gem to offset the often times heavy real state.

i advise to make merry with this;
entertain it's shows, both good and bad,
but it is the enduring artists' prerogative
to find a safe passage to ground.

and to let the thunder abound.

rip it up on the other side, Mr. McCray.
rockgeir

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Aug 27, 2014 - 06:44am PT
Great stories and pictures Albatross!
kk1982

Trad climber
Aug 27, 2014 - 11:13am PT
Flyin Brian, you took me under your wing. I met you in Zion ten years ago and not till then or ever again did see a man on rock with wings like yours. You flew up new routes on your Angelino wall crag with style and command I was so inspired. I was down on my luck, my dreams of an 'all in' climbing life were being shut down by a looming federal probation term that was to ship me home to Pennsylvania. I was still reeling and processing grief from my sisters suicide that had racked my life; you let me tell you my story and helped take one more step toward healing. Brian, you took me with you to your secret crag in the middle of 'F' nowhere, showed me how you climb and establish routes like it was second nature, explained to me your sobriety was fundamental in your ability to live out your dreams on these rocks. You inspired me. Your routes in ZIon are some of the nicest looking lines, the most Extreme. I hope somehow the message gets through, I hope in some way you know that you are special. Brian, I'm back in Utah and I'm trying to repeat your route Ball and Chain and I wish I didn't wait to call you and try to rekindle an old, brief, but very meaningful friendship.
EJN

climber
under a rock
Aug 27, 2014 - 12:34pm PT
Got a chance to talk to Brian last fall. We mostly talked about Zion and climbing ethics, and a little about his personal climbing history. We met at his house and talked for a few hours.

My first impression of him was his arms: they were gigantic. He looked like he could uproot trees with each hand.

My second impression was how welcoming he was. I was a student in school, and he was helping me out with a research project. He welcomed me into his house and talked with me for a while.

By the end of the conversation my lasting impression of him was the fire in his eyes, and in his belly. He clearly had a drive to do more, and to do better, and the discipline to get it done. His resume and life certainly show that.

I'm glad I got to meet him, and am sorry for his passage.
Tiff A

climber
Aug 27, 2014 - 12:56pm PT
We've been getting a lot of questions regarding where people can send flowers or cards. In lieu of sending flowers we ask that you send a card to Brian's grandmother. She was a loving presence throughout his life and, as anyone can understand, she is having a difficult time right now. If you have a good, upbeat story about Brian, please write it in a card and send it to his grandmother (mind your language in your letters please, she is a 92 year-old lady after all). Stories of Brian would do more than any flowers ever could.

Please send cards to:
Melba McCray
One Country Lane, Apt B105
Brookville, Ohio 45309

Thank you,
Tiffany and KurtBurt
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 27, 2014 - 01:09pm PT
Thanks for sharing all these stories, keep them coming! I have to think that right now Brian would want us celebrating his life.

"There is so much that goes on behind the closed door of a person's mind that we aren't privy to."
Though well intentioned, I'm not sure if this quote fits in the case of Brian McCray. Brian was very open with his thoughts and ideas which is one of the many reasons he was so special a creature.


We spent many hours discussing the meanings of life, it's frustrations, rewards, and purpose. Brian was a student of life and spent much time devoted to the study of the workings of the mind and of mankind.


CREMATED HEART

Blanched and fragile as old paper flowers,
pale and sad as a spinster's skin,
antique lace on the tips
of your fingers,

your best friend's ashes
scattered
to the wind.

poem written by Scott Baxter
redrocker

climber
NV
Aug 27, 2014 - 04:05pm PT
Thanks W.L., that is really good.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 27, 2014 - 04:07pm PT
That's a great idea to send a card to Grandma Melba. A number of years ago Brian sent me an email pic of the two of them entitled, "Two Warriors".

I hope that people around the world are celebrating the beauty of Brian McCray. He'd never admit it, but I suspect he might have wanted that right now. He was cut from a different cloth without a doubt.




One of our tribal elders sent me this lovely text:

"Always having to pretend that the light is where it's at can be exhausting when too much light can, in fact, blind us. It's then that some have to retreat to an equally beautiful underworld for refuge and to regain vision. I'll bet Brian's there."

HighDesertDJ

Trad climber
Aug 27, 2014 - 04:11pm PT
My condolences to all those who knew and clearly loved him.
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Aug 27, 2014 - 09:02pm PT
Ammon working with you two was so nuts! I loved it so much! Did you do the Jacksonville job with RIL? I can't remember cause if you did I have to tell the Burger King story....
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Aug 27, 2014 - 09:06pm PT
It looks like Brian filled a wonderful and adventurous space while he was with us.
My sincerest condolences to those that knew and loved him.
shipoopoi

Big Wall climber
oakland
Aug 27, 2014 - 10:09pm PT
darn it brian! this is truly sad news. my wife heather and i shared the most intense adventure of our lives with brian and his then wife roxanna on a first ascent in pakistan. brian was freaking hilarious at almost every moment, and really stepped up to the plate on our free ascent of Hainabrak east. brian led an overhanging slot/offwidth at about 17'000 on that climb that we called 5.12a

the trip was adventurous also from the married couples aspect. as two married couples, we were prone to all the triumphs and tribulations that expedition climbing can bring out. some crazy stuff for sure, but man, the four of us styled a new big wall free route on our first trip to the karakoram.

good climbing on the other side brother, steve schneider
md307

climber
jackson, wy
Aug 27, 2014 - 10:29pm PT
Brian McCray was a great human being. While much is made of his climbing ability, his determination, his gruffness and his surliness I will always remember first and foremost his KINDNESS and HONESTY. He gave me a home when I needed one and he was my friend. As is obvious by the many stories of love, respect and gratefulness on this post, Brian gave and helped many. Brian, rest in peace.
Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA/Joshua Tree
Aug 27, 2014 - 10:59pm PT
Ammon & Burt...thanks for all the pictures you're posting of Brian. Gone too soon but will never be forgotten.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Aug 27, 2014 - 11:18pm PT
Another kind soul, lost in the wind. My condolences to those who loved and cherished him. May your memories be fond. You shall never forget.

Thanks for the inspiration to keep pushing Brian!
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 28, 2014 - 08:07am PT
It's wonderful to see the outpouring of love and support for the mighty beast that was Brian McCray.


Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Aug 28, 2014 - 08:44am PT
I used to laugh all the time when we would be out and about sometimes at nice places and he gets all cleaned up, but in the middle of whatever was going on he has show rubber in his beard or hair. Rox and me laughed about that the other night. Always shoe rubber and a hint of some type of tobacco smell always seemed to follow him.
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Aug 28, 2014 - 09:34am PT
From what is written here, it is absolutely clear that Flyin' Brian was an exceptional person. I can really feel the pain that his close friends are going through, and I hope that with time that will change for you.

As a climber that has always struggled to accomplish anything in climbing, Brian's expertise and speed on walls is incomprehensible. There is also something admirable about a person that prefers to let his actions speak for themselves.

R.I.P. Brian. I wish I had known you.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 28, 2014 - 10:11am PT
This is a keeper:


Man those were some miserable-fun times of suffering.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 28, 2014 - 11:15am PT


couchmaster

climber
Aug 28, 2014 - 12:32pm PT


I'm always sorry to see the brightest stars in the sky burn out too soon so that their special brilliance disappears. I never met him, but I thank you all for sharing some stories and photos of a great dude that was clearly of the highest caliber on so many different levels.

BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Aug 29, 2014 - 08:10am PT
Man. So sorry for his friends. I didn't know him, but you had to live in a cave to never hear of him.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 29, 2014 - 11:55pm PT
It's going to be interesting to start seeing some of the climbing tales about this legend emerge.


One aspect of Brian's climbing that always struck me was how equally adept he was at both difficult free climbing and extreme aid. He had the know how for whatever it took to ascend (or descend) vertical terrain, above and below ground, quickly, with heavy loads, in difficult conditions.

ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Aug 30, 2014 - 12:11am PT
He had the know how for whatever it took to ascend (or descend) vertical terrain, above and below ground, quickly, with heavy loads, in difficult conditions.

that's the name of the game
E Begoon

Trad climber
Virginia
Aug 30, 2014 - 09:56am PT
I think it was Ron Putterbaugh that put Brian onto climbing at an early age, a gift I'm sure he was always grateful of

I still remember when Brian first came onto the Seneca scene in the early 90s probably 90 or 91, looking a little like a deer in the headlights, not exactly sure how to act or what to do. Of course he got over that pretty quick. It was a good time for him to be there, a host of talented and motivated climbers were working the new lines between the cracks and exploring the satellite walls around Seneca and being the likeable person he was, fell right into the fold.

After a season of visiting Seneca as a weekend warrrior he got a job at the Gendarme, working for John Markwell who owned the shop at that time. Being the new person on the team he was stuck running the shop for the first year instead of guiding. One of the chores for the shop guy was to help make harnesses that John had designed, the Simplex. The first week Brian was on the job he cut up a whole spool of webbing to the wrong length, he didn't make employee of the month.

Brian and I climbed a lot together as he was working through the grades at Seneca. I had started a route at Champe Rocks (we had legal access at the time)and had gotten bolts through the 12b crux before darkness brought the effort to a halt. The following weekend was July 4 and Brian went in with me to hold my rope. Knowing he didn't have a prayer of sending the rig and feeling a little sorry knowing he'd be on belay duty for a while I gave him the first burn. He hhiked the crux and headed up to the seam, placed some gear and kept climbing. He had turned a bulge and was out of sight, I was slowly paying out ripe as he got farther and farther from his last gear and I knew by this time he was pretty run out was encouraging him to find a hook or something to drill a bolt from. Finally he got a hook and said he was giong to test it, all went well for a few seconds then I heard the distinctive ping as the hook blew. That was a 40 footer and the first of a string of whips he took that summer to earn the name Flyin' Brian. I went up while he rested and placed the bolt, lower then his high point, then turned the rope over to him, he deserved the route. That route was a turning point for me, I clearly saw Brian had out grown the gumby stage.

While at Seneca Brian adopted a dog he named Nightmare. Nightmare was about 2 feet long with 4 inch legs and as hard headed as they come. One morning we were doing the approach to Champe which entailed a long walk through a pasture field with beef cattle that had a very curious\aggressive attitude toward us. While in the middle of the field we saw the cattle stampeding and quickly realized they were hot on the heals of Nightmare. Brian started calling for the dog and I swear that is the only time he ever listened to Brian, Nightmare started changing his bearing and headed right toward us with 30 black angus thundering right behind him. We looked at each other and at the same time dropped our packs and started running toward the fence. The cattle broke off their attack so we cautiously gathered our gear and crossed the fence, once in the safe zone we laughed until tears came. Brian had a great laugh, I'll never forget it.

In 1998 my wife Tracy and I were climbing in the Sierra mountains and decided to take a break and check out the valley for a day. We were in line with the hordes of over weight tourist to get food of some kind when I saw Brian in front of us. What a great reunion!He had just gotten off the wall the day before and was sporting a horrible rope burn from a fall that Ron described earlier in this thread and he wanted Tracy to tend to it for him We debated over the proper course of action and finally decided to us iodine on the wound. The next issue of Climbing magazine that came out a couple weeks later had an article on rope burns and they stressed NOT using iodine, at least we tried. If things went well there will be a picture of Brian and his burn on this post.

The last time I saw Brian was 2011, on the way back east from the Sierra mountains. He only had an hour break before heading back into the rafters of a building where he was spending his days in a porta ledge while working a show. We went to a seedy Mexican joint to eat and had a great time catching up, but I remember being disappointed not having more time with my old friend. About two weeks ago while looking through some pictures I came across the picture of Brian, Tracy and me on that last visit and thought I needed to call him. I waited too long.

I feel privileged to call Flyin' Brian McCray a friend

Eddie Begoon
filmcookie

climber
nashville
Aug 30, 2014 - 02:13pm PT
brian was my cousin, my friend and a man i greatly admired. having few to really mourn with, celebrate his life with...i find myself here. the photographs and stories shared here are quite something. i'll attempt to share a few. maybe they'll make you laugh. or smile. or simply give you a glimpse of the boy i knew who persevered and went on to be the man you all came to know and love.

when i received the phone call, well, it's difficult to describe my reaction. i know there were tears. howls. my heart sunk to the floor. i screamed "why" over and over (even though i all too well understand why) then my mind went to...grandma. knowing she would have little comfort up there, i packed my bags and jumped in my car to make the journey to her. when i arrived at her door, i dove into a week of pain, laughter, tears and stories. many stories.

my grandma is too frail to travel. on friday, i planned the best memorial i could in her tiny apartment at the assisted living home. she sat in her recliner, the one brian and i both know so well. i was at her feet, holding her hand. a candle had been lit, we sat in silence, our heads down. at some point i looked up to see many tears streaming down her face.

my grandma is one of the strongest women i know, to see those tears broke me. how do you explain suicide to a 92-year-old woman in so much pain? i tried my best: grandma, you gave him life and love. he took that and gave it to so many. thousands of people around the world.

i repeated to her, some people are just too good for this world.

throughout the week i read her many stories i found here and elsewhere which brought some comfort. she spends the majority of her days alone in her room, i know the cards will help tremendously. thank you in advance for those.

brian told grandma many, many times that she and my grandpa saved his life. and they did. they stepped in and cared for a young boy when no-one else would. they made sure he had the things so many take for granted.

and they loved him. there was lots of love.

in my opinion, he eventually escaped to climbing and went on to be one of the greatest. he was surrounded by many who became family. i have witnessed this here with great joy. meanwhile, around the same time he found climbing, i escaped to the film business, surrounded by like-minded souls who always made me feel safe. brian and i traveled very similar paths throughout our lives and kept in touch. there were many phone calls and emails exchanged over the years. i was/am often overcome with memories of much trauma, pain and sadness. he was always on the other end somehow helping me find humor amidst it all. humor is not the right word. i can't really explain it. those of you who know him well will probably understand what i mean. i remember a phone conversation about 3 years ago when i called to check in, without saying too much, it was a f**ked up sad situation and he, hurting, managed to make me laugh. that was who he was.

he took the higher road, always. when he did express the same emotions i was feeling, he did so in the most profound ways. a lessor man might have held onto the resentment, pain and anger but manifested it in a different way.

Brian turned it into something beautiful by touching so many lives.

i love you, brian.
thank you, brian.
you will forever be in my heart.

my love and gratitude to each and every single one of you.
kim mccray


jstan

climber
Aug 30, 2014 - 03:10pm PT
I have to call this out, Read Filmcookie's post.
md307

climber
jackson, wy
Aug 30, 2014 - 04:04pm PT

I can’t make it to Vegas today but I can wear my special shirt! When Brian first got these(1999?) I offered to buy one, the response was, “You can have one…as long as you wear it.” It has many more holes than are visible in the picture so it only comes out occasionally. Today I think I will take it to the gym.
Thanks to everyone who has shared such great stories and photos.
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Aug 30, 2014 - 10:19pm PT
Andrew Barnes

Ice climber
Albany, NY
Aug 31, 2014 - 12:10am PT
Rest in peace, bro, you are deeply missed.
I had an email exchange with Brian many years ago, and he was very friendly and supportive with beta. I asked him about the Rainbow wall at Red Rocks,
and he was so psyched even for an unknown mediocre like me. He resoled my shoes, gave beta, encouragement, and I could feel the warmth even by email.
5.14, A5, and hard alpine climbs in Alaska - the ultimate climber's climber.
Heart of gold.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 31, 2014 - 07:40pm PT
Eddie thanks for retelling the story of how he earned the nickname Fly'n Brian.

Kim, thank you for sharing so much with us. Brian was an amazing human being and an inspiration to thousands across the world. By showing us how to see the world with a different set of eyes, Brian changed the face of rock climbing. Those are some great pics of the goof growing up!

I hope more people share stories about how Brian changed their lives.
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Aug 31, 2014 - 07:49pm PT
Didn't know Brian. Sounds like an amazing guy. Wow...to think how desperate or lost or alone (don't really know what to say here) one must feel to follow this path to find peace. I think of Yabo. I think of the sense of helplessness we all feel when one who we know and care for takes this path. Dude, just call me and we'll make it all better! If it was just so easy...
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Aug 31, 2014 - 08:15pm PT
We said our earthly goodbyes and sent the mighty warrior Brian McCray on to his next mission.
To say that his Viking Pyre was intense would not even begin to describe the mind blowing experience we witnessed. And last nights blowout was awesome - slides, food, black roses, booze, lots of great folks - even some drunken late night brawling. I'm sure Brian's spirit was howling at the chaos!



I hope that everyone is able to find peace in Brian's decisions in life and death. I feel like we should celebrate this great beast with the honor and respect he earned. Brian lived his adult life exactly the way he wanted all the way to the end, for this we might feel wonder and awe because most of us are not so fortunate. I know that Brians death has left a huge hole in many of our hearts and hope that people come to understand that he was very much a warrior who lived and died on his own terms. We may even feel blessed to have been given a glimpse into the soul of this dark angel.

Brian thank you so much for sharing the razors edge and for teaching me so much about death and life.
nah000

climber
canuckistan
Aug 31, 2014 - 09:44pm PT
anybody looking for a good story about brian should check out the article written by bridwell about their [and others] bear's tooth climb, in the 2000 AAJ.

i doubt bridwell has given the high praise that follows to too many people:

Avalanches of spindrift cascaded over the fragile tents through the black hours. In the morning I peeked out the zipper door to a winter wonderland. Real horror show stuff... an avalanche brought rapid door closure. I brushed the snow off me into the tent bottom and snuggled back in the bag to do the hang.

Around noon, Fly 'n Brian could hang no more.

"I'm going up," he declared with purpose in his voice. I spent the night in the tent with a crazy guy, I thought.

"Really," I said. "Have you looked out?"

An hour later, he was on the ropes. I was impressed. I have never seen anyone climb technical rock in conditions this bad. I remember this being the most technical pitch to my previous high point. A pendulum to loose hooking... lots of it... with little protection, then looking for two rivets on the snow-plastered wall... This ought to be good, I pondered.

A long time passed after the pendulum, with occasional moments of disgruntled vocabulary. Hooking must have been tough with everything hidden under the snow. Then came a crashing rattle of hardware and excited language. Soon after, a repeat performance was heard through the hiss of avalanches. A while later, a great sigh of relief signalled Fly 'n Brian's success. When I quizzed him that evening, he confessed, "I wanted to see what it would be like."

the whole article is worth a read and starts on p. 37...
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 1, 2014 - 01:47pm PT


Snipped from an email from Brian:
"how many are there that can live based on integrity, authenticity and trust. those are the qualities that i respect. the rest is trash."
Jay

Trad climber
Fort Mill, SC
Sep 2, 2014 - 11:24am PT
RIP Brian... the only guy to resole my shoes in the last 10 years. Didn't know him other than by workmanship and sharing the love of climbing, which is a lot, but if he did anything else as well as he fixed up my shoes he will be sorely missed.

A bit of advice from my late and wonderful grandmother... "Life is for the living!" So, after the time for greaving is over go climb, or do whatever gives you vibrance in honor of Brian, yourself and all those who have come and gone in your life.

See y'all on the rocks!
Jay
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 2, 2014 - 05:11pm PT
Nice post, Jay. I think your right, Brian would want us to be stoked to follow our dreams and strive to be the best person possible.

Brian was an avid reader and book collector. For a few years we devoured every Chuck Palahnuik book we could get our grubby hands on, calling each other and reading lines from a book.
Favorites include: Fight Club, Survivor, and Choke.
Read and enjoy at your own risk!


While reading Choke, I typed this page out:



eagle

Trad climber
new paltz, ny
Sep 2, 2014 - 06:50pm PT
DUDE LOOKED A BIT LIKE KID ROCK

HE GOT A LOT DONE A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME
Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA/Joshua Tree
Sep 2, 2014 - 07:11pm PT
Albatross, thanks for the update on Brian's memorial. Sounds like he got amazing farewell. And very moving words on your part.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 2, 2014 - 08:59pm PT
yeah eagle, you got this right fo sure: HE GOT A LOT DONE A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME.

I am grateful for the kind emails and words of support. There's lots more stories to share if folks continue to be interested. I like hearing all tales of how Brian changed a life. I am trying to be careful so that my posts show only respect and admiration for this great teacher.

Here's some more from the man:

"nature explores every possibility with it's creatures and the possibilities are infinite".

"it seems to me that we are all responsible to be exactly who we are. "the best "me" i can possibly be"


the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 2, 2014 - 10:19pm PT
That man sure could climb. Brian especially enjoyed new routes and was the first to climb many hundreds of pitches.

Cranking some moves, way out there out on the soft stuff.
greyghost

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV
Sep 2, 2014 - 10:26pm PT
It seems so strange to hear of Brian taking his life. Not so long ago in June 2014 he called me and we talked at length about some new lines and potential lines. We were developing in the same are. He seemed really positive. Often there I'd see him high on the wall on fixed lines and jugs cleaning and trundling.

Sad to have Brian not with us anymore
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 2, 2014 - 10:53pm PT
I hope that everyone can find their own peace in Brian's death. It was going to happen sooner or later, one way or another.

We are all going to die. Every lover, every parent, all of your friends and foes, even all your kids and grandkids and pets are going to die. All of us. Dead.

If you can grasp this reality you have come a long way towards living. And living is what we want to do until it is time to die. Become the best person that you can be. The time is now. You will not have much longer. You have a death sentence, a date with an execution and the clock is ticking.


Fly'n Brian McCray is still very much with us.
In our dreams, in our goals and in our memories, in these photos. Plus many hundred (or thousand) climbs for us to suffer on and enjoy.

We can keep Brian alive with the stories, the climbs, the memories, the love. I'm ready to hear of some more adventures.



Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
Sep 2, 2014 - 11:01pm PT
When we climbed South Seas, he passed us climbing the PO Wall. He soloed it, then proceeded to climb another route before we got down. Made us look even slower than we were.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Sep 2, 2014 - 11:27pm PT
your a good bro albatross
Ronin

Trad climber
Franklin, WV
Sep 3, 2014 - 04:31am PT
Thank you, Brian, not just for the few times you shared that McCray energy with me in person, but for all you did here in West Virginia, and across the world.

You were a true ambassador of not only climbing, but the human race.

The good ones die young.... the pricks live on forever.
dougs510

Social climber
down south
Sep 3, 2014 - 04:41am PT
I'm sorry for your loss Ammon. You won't remember me, but we met when I was climbing with Bean in the valley several years back. Too many gone.... to young. Makes me really sad.
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Sep 3, 2014 - 04:42am PT
as many days as possible,
enter absurdly.

and see what happens.

after all,
we only live a few thousand times.

the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 3, 2014 - 07:55am PT
Flo checked in on the thread and asked me to share this:

“Seeing the admiration for what Brian did on his own terms is truly comforting. Brian’s appetite for literature, art and history made him a renaissance man as well as an athlete and pioneer in his climbing endeavors. His legacy is one for us to honor and share”.





the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 3, 2014 - 04:02pm PT


more wisdom from Brian:

thieves can only steal. to truly create is a difficult job that few want to tackle.

the thief grows weaker. the creator grows stronger.
sandstone conglomerate

climber
sharon conglomerate central
Sep 3, 2014 - 04:06pm PT
RIP...Flyin' Brian resolved a pair of my Anasazis a few years back...Terrible to hear about this. Seemed like a good dude.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 3, 2014 - 05:03pm PT
ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
Ogden, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 9, 2014 - 10:39pm PT


kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Sep 9, 2014 - 10:49pm PT
Thanks for bringing back this thread, Ammon!

edit - and thanks to RJ as well.
nah000

climber
canuckistan
Sep 9, 2014 - 11:00pm PT
thanks for fixing this cmac and/or co.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Sep 9, 2014 - 11:09pm PT
Booty!
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Sep 10, 2014 - 03:07am PT
Trade winds blow the divi divi tree, a weed in sand, an impossible scary stand against the blast
Moon and tide sun bleached wood as much dead as alive the div divi strong and weak barkless sends a shadow much greater is that beauty in rhyme and moon light.

By day the look is strange twisted knurled completely haggard and seemingly alone
Sands of time scream past as winds take their toll bent in doaist prayer div divi shakes

Casting the only shadow and so a little shade on the edges of a beach on the edges of the world
Pyrse built of it's fallen wood sing as they burn and those sent home by this fire go into the great void less alone for that song Divi Divi Flying Brian so long




Of Oak and Pine great Ball sycamore and Red wood sequoia they stand there in majesty unquestioned
In contrast half living and all seeing Joshua tree holds out as one of us taken by the spirit that
Kept low attainable a child's hopes and dreams that life may be all good

Spirit inside so contained in a weedy wood the desert has provided in moon light the spirit haunts the view a living thing and scary in singular alone just one against the rising dawn

I know that some are haunting sad none seem to smile unless in a stand of six or seven all
In sight of each other with deep roots that must be entwined
a mile of earth scanned thirty joshes, I see a man and then he is gone was he ever there at all

Yes and no a spirit that survived the fall but who's only road was too lonely to make it go



the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 10, 2014 - 10:23am PT
Ammon thanks for getting this back up. When you're ready it's going to be great hearing some stories of those speed ascents. Do you have that pic of when Brian put the beak through his palm?
couchmaster

climber
Sep 10, 2014 - 02:45pm PT


Thanks everyone for sharing great photos and memories of what clearly was a most excellent dude who checked out much too early.


rockgeir

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Sep 10, 2014 - 03:15pm PT
Thanks for bringing this thread back! I really appreciate reading all this great stuff about Brian.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Sep 10, 2014 - 03:51pm PT
Pretty cool to see this back as it should be. Those who loved him will know how much so many cared about him and perhaps hear some stories they never would have any other way.

the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 14, 2014 - 07:59pm PT

http://waterstoneoutdoors.com/flyin-brian-mccray/

Maura remembers:
Gene and I met Brian McCray in the early 80’s at Seneca Rocks. He was on his first rock climbing trip, under the wing of Ron Putterbaugh, a friendly, relaxed Ohioan who had recognized potential in this intense and troubled teen. I remember a wide smile, pin straight white blonde hair and an appealing, goofy warmth. Sure enough, the boy was born to climb and climb he did. He and Ron were constants at Seneca, where Brian mastered the fundamentals. He was strong, ridiculously strong, but it was his fierce drive and his utterly abandoned approach to climbing that soon distinguished him.

He left his mark on Seneca Rocks and then made his way down here to the New River Gorge in the mid 90’s. Mind you when he showed up hardly any climbers lived here. There weren’t any cool restaurants, there really wasn’t much going on at all. We were psyched he showed up because he was so…psyched. He was dedicated. And that meant he went climbing all the time. No matter the heat, no matter the cold, he just went climbing. I will leave it to others testify about his climbing feats; i just want to say that I remember him as being consistently kind and thoughtful and interested–a good friend. I am glad to have known him, the NRG is better for him having been here, my heart goes out to his family and friends who are missing him so badly every day. Rest in Peace Flyin’ Brian.

Kenny remembers: Flyin’ Brian McCray was the most motivated, “psyched” climber I have ever known. A lot of climbers are good, as in talented, and a lot are just so motivated they look good. Flyin’ Brian was both. His determination was inspiring and this aspect of his personality made those around him climb better. His tenure at the New River Gorge truly launched it as a climbing area to the next level. Doug, Porter, Eddie, and others had huge impacts on the development of the New and, having climbed with all of them, were all great climbers. But something about Brian was different. He just had a sense about him that he could do it all, which he basically went on to do. His many ascents on all kinds of climbing terrain have been documented elsewhere so all I will say is that it was evident then what was to come for Brian in his climbing career.

Like many of my climbing friends, Brain had slipped out of touch so I had not talked to him in a long time. The last time I remember seeing him was after his Alaska trip with Bridwell. He came to the shop and gave a gripping slide show about the ascent. It was truly mind boggling what Brian had done up there, basically learning how to ice climb way up on an Alaskan wall. Only Brian had that kind of climbing talent, drive, and fearlessness. I remember how fun Brian was to be around and do things with. My first time down the New was at night with Brian, Tom Wendell owner of Hard Rock, Jim Taylor, and a few others. We left late after a day of guiding with lots of beer and other things in our systems for the put in. Neither Brian nor I had ever been on whitewater before and for Brian it just didn’t matter. It was an adventure with good friends. It was all of that and more as I recall and Brian was the highlight.

It’s those memories of Brian that will all really stick with me. His hilarious chuckle that he had. Just him laughing made others laugh. It was a real laugh and that was truly contagious.

R.I.P. Flyin’ Brian, you were one of a kind.



Mikey Williams interprets:

I can’t pretend that I knew Brian well. As I was researching for the New River Gorge guidebook, we chatted on the phone and exchanged emails, but that was the extent of our interaction. That said, you can tell a lot about a person by examining the legacy of what they left behind. Many route developers helped shape the New into what it is today and Brian McCray had a firm grip on the reins during the late 90s.

It sounds clichéd but examining what Brian was doing during the era he was doing it defines “visionary.” Perhaps more than any other climber in New River Gorge history, Brian saw the potential in the blank walls that had turned away everyone else. His primary contribution was, of course, the Cirque where he bolted over 20 routes, most of them all the way to the top of the intimidating cliff. Proper Soul gets all the glory as the New’s first 5.14 but his other contributions are just as stunning. Ride the Lightning, a sandbagged 5.13b, was one of his proudest—a climb he considered “good enough to hike there for just that one route.”

He possessed impressive physical ability which we can reflect on today as the next generation of strong young gym rats get punted off his “5.13b’s” like Xanth. There was a time when the only climbers that had repeated Xanth had all previously climbed 5.14! Another of his 5.13b’s, Quake at Beauty Mountain, is likely still unrepeated. Brian’s House of Cards (5.13d) wasn’t repeated until last year. Ragnarock (5.13b) may be unrepeated as well…

But more impressive than his physical ability was his vision to see what might be possible. Whether he thought he might someday be capable, or if he was bolting for the next generation, is unclear to me. But back in 1997, Brian was bolting 5.14 and what may be 5.15 routes in the Cirque. This was during a time when 5.15 didn’t exist in the world, yet he was already seeing the possibility. What we’ve dubbed the Cirqueles project is one example of a route that I never would have thought possible, even in today’s world where we view almost anything as achievable. His project to the left of Ride the Lightning is still unsent to the first anchor, but what lies above is simply outrageous climbing that would likely shut down Adam Ondra and maybe even his unborn children.

While Brian’s contributions to the gorge are most concentrated in the Cirque, he also laid claim to hard climbs throughout the region like BC in the Coliseum and the futuristic Dihedral Project that was finally sent two years ago. Suicide Blonde (5.13b) and Deep Throat (5.13c) at the Lake are also his. He claimed the first dude ascent of Lynn Hill’s Greatest Show on Earth (5.13a trad) at the lower Meadow and the first ascent of the still unrepeated trad route Temporary Insanity (5.13a) at South Nuttall.

Outside of the Cirque, South Nuttall was the site of Brian’s other major contributions, though his focus there came right at the end of his time at the New River Gorge. He left a handful of futuristic projects there that are still unsent, like the two beautiful projects on the White Wall or the Reign in Blood project—a name that offers some insight into his penchant for dark clothing and dark metal music.

It’s impossible to examine Brian’s legacy at the New and reflect on his character without addressing the fact that he was, undoubtedly, a bit of a renegade. Many of the routes he drilled at South Nuttall were done illegally which ruffled feathers with other climbers and the NPS. He also caught sh#t for “adding” a hold or two to make a route go. Without condoning the practice, I still feel comfortable applauding his craftsmanship. It’s obvious that he spent hours sculpting and camouflaging a single handhold so that the sequence was perfect and subsequent climbers would need to break out a magnifying glass to determine the “authenticity” of the grip. House of Cards is a testament to his vision and stealth as is Into the Sarlacc (5.14b) another project he left behind that wasn’t redpointed until last year.

My favorite story regarding Brian’s outlaw behavior took place at Fern Buttress as he illegally drilled bolts on the Wide Open Beaver project. Park officials were alerted by the hum of a drill and came to investigate. Caught red-handed, Brian hung from the rope and quickly debated what to do. He could have tucked his tail, rappelled down, and faced the music, but instead, I picture him copping a little smirk as he jugged to the top and ran away!

It’s been nearly 20 years since Brian moved on from the Gorge and what he left behind, whether sent or unsent, STILL represents the future of difficult New River climbing. Up-and-comers test their skills on the routes he redpointed while today’s cutting edge climbers attempt to redpoint the projects he left behind. Today, his rusty bolts mark paths through the Cirque that may someday be climbed by the next generation of elite climbers. These relics left by Brian McCray, the first person to climb 5.14a at the New, might mark the New River Gorge’s first 5.14c, 5.14d, 5.15a, and beyond.

He was a visionary soul for sure and the legacy of routes he left behind is impressive, but not nearly as extraordinary as the speed with which he accomplished this. Nearly everything was established during a three year period from 1995 to 1997. It takes today’s climbers twice as long just to climb all his routes, minus the exploration, rappelling, and bolting.

The whirlwind pace of life that Brian subscribed to during his time at the New continued for another 17 years and the scale of his accomplishments grew with time. All this—everything that we here see as remarkable—represents Brian cutting his teeth and finding his groove. We celebrate his contribution to New River climbing, but in the grand scheme of his climbing life, this was all just practice for what was to come.

Brian was a climber, first and foremost, but climbing still represented just a portion of who he was. He was an elite level rigger, an antiquities dealer, a shoe-resoler, and so much more than that to the people that knew him well. His character was larger than life and, although I sense it through his contributions to the New, I wish I had known him for the extraordinary person that he was during those rare moments when his feet were planted firmly on the ground.
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Sep 15, 2014 - 07:10am PT
albatross sometimes i get
trapped in the reality coop
and luckily some visionary
carbon chain before me,
someone like brian,
installed a bailing wire
trigger that reaches
to outside of reality's confines
and by pulling the wire
the latch to beyond
is actuated,
and i'm free.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Sep 16, 2014 - 07:05pm PT
Norwegian that was beautiful, thank you.

If we get really lucky, we meet and know a Brian McCray in our lifetime.

I am certain Brian did not like social media especially towards his decision, but feel the rock climbing world should hear some tales of his talent. The man was all over the rocks.

Looking forward to hearing about some of those bad ass El Cap and Zion ascents.

Especially in the last decade those areas that Brian developed he considered sanctuaries, places of rest and recuperation, we should regard those areas in the same respect and admiration for the wild is far and few between these days.

I could probably dig up another story or two if anyone is interested. It will be cool to hear the stories trickle in from people following in his footsteps.

ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
Ogden, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 2, 2014 - 12:28am PT
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Oct 2, 2014 - 01:03am PT
Which route was this one from, Ammon?
ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
Ogden, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 2, 2014 - 01:08am PT
This was the day we did Prodigal Son, Moonlight Buttress and Lunar X, car to car in 12 hours. Hee hee!
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Oct 2, 2014 - 01:11am PT
I knew that it would be a good story!
MisterE

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Oct 2, 2014 - 07:44am PT
Glad this thread is back - that bit by Mikey Williams is amazing and humbling.

What a powerhouse!
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Oct 2, 2014 - 11:05am PT
self.

it's ours to harbor.

thrive it.
beat it.
exhaust it.
extinguish it.

it really is just
a passive existence.

i might be?
i am.
i was!

neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Oct 3, 2014 - 10:07pm PT
hey there, say, filmcookie... oh my, thank you for bearing your love and your heart, on all your treasure, as to your cousin...

you won't be forgotten in prayers...
say,also, i sent you an email, so hope you can check...
god bless...
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Oct 4, 2014 - 10:33pm PT
Ammon was this the trip that the rope bull whipped and hit a certain body part??? Hehehe and just wait until the videos come out... FA of South of Heaven, speed record on Space Shot, or the ever classic "riggers course" in the cave complete with beer, cigarettes, and rope jumps!!! So many memories, so many smiles, so many triumphs, and many defeats. Now heal up Ammon so we both can stop this horse sh#t crying on supertopo and go have a proper adventure that the "dirt bather" would be proud of!!!
I'll never forget talking to you about Brian on moonlight when you guys where going for the record... Something along the lines of it hit you how good he really can free climb. Wasn't he like just basically soloing the corner pitch above the rocker block, with full rack, and just a big loop of rope out from short fixing? I'll never forget that sinister laugh when sh#t got scary and real, and somehow it was just going to get done and we would smile during it all.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Oct 8, 2014 - 04:34pm PT
It would be cool to hear about the team speed record on Moonlight Buttress, something like 2 hours for the 9 pitch (?) ascent?

You guys were flying!






the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Oct 8, 2014 - 07:49pm PT

Brian cranked some of the steepest faces and thinnest cracks and nailed up some of the more challenging cliff faces in the world.

Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Oct 10, 2014 - 06:51am PT
Non mate was looking and thought that other than good wishes for another fallen hero there,,that no update was good news and went away to find other muse
Pictures and stories walls of rock that IS the best

And my youth fleeting twenty two was that the best ever.
Playing with gravity and winnig with out any fight but just enough terror
To make the innocent play seem heroic getting high from the endevore

Some where in the mix love of all things got the nix
Climbing became the fix and as the friend of the dealer
I did the leading the lines in good style
thirty or forty years hence my veins ruined
I sit on the fence and heckel the MOON

Health fun and love do not poo poo wealth
Hope all is good
I actually slept in and no Rx well
Rare that that happens,I feel safe to climb today
But as alone the level so low and the risk high my chocies
Are limited I don't want to...hope not today care will must be taken
But none that stops fun
Sunny day getting on it
What it is ain't exactly clear
wildone

climber
EP
Oct 10, 2014 - 08:32am PT
Man. Reading these accounts here was good for me and also really hard.
He was my friend. He always made you feel better, you know?
This world, this life, is such a trip. Gonna miss seeing his smile and feeling that crushing handshake.
;(
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Oct 27, 2014 - 04:58pm PT
Can anyone help in identifying this free route? Sure looks thin.

the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Oct 27, 2014 - 05:57pm PT
Damn this looks sketchy. Brian nailing the second ascent of the first pitch of Nightmare on California Street, El Capitan.
July 2009


I remember calling Brian fairly late that night, thinking he would be done with the pitch. No answer. He called back a few minutes later, halfway up the first pitch, calm, in his zen state. Having the time of his life. Had been too hot to climb during the day so most of the pitch he climbed by headlamp. I guess the route is so technically intense that if you fall anywhere on the first 300' you will likely rip all your protection and hit the ground (or that big spike pillar at the base).
I hope that other, more qualified folks chime in on the significance of this second ascent, solo.
WBraun

climber
Oct 27, 2014 - 06:18pm PT
if you fall anywhere on the first 300' you will likely rip all your protection and hit the ground (or that big spike pillar at the base)

So ...... ????

What does that prove?
Greg Barnes

climber
Oct 27, 2014 - 06:29pm PT
Can anyone help in identifying this free route? Sure looks thin.
Acid Crack

(5.12d, FA Bachar)
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Oct 27, 2014 - 06:29pm PT
Werner I have no ground to stand on when it comes to El Cap and have been nowhere near the base of this climb.

From what I remember hearing from my friend Brian, it sounded like this was a rather complex climb on a number of pitches, with deadly consequences if one did not understand thin aid climbing.

My perspective is that the rock didn't kill Brian though he challenged himself on some difficult first ascents and a number of dangerous second ascents. Brian told me he liked to climb other people's routes in order to gauge his skill level.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Oct 27, 2014 - 08:24pm PT
Thanks Greg. That looks like a tough free climb.


if you fall anywhere on the first 300' you will likely rip all your protection and hit the ground (or that big spike pillar at the base)

So ...... ????

What does that prove?


Werner, to me this ascent highlighted the fact that Brian McCray was capable of repeating the most difficult, and dangerous, established aid climbing routes on El Cap. It is my understanding that Brian enjoyed climbing the most extreme lines on the formation, often completing the ascent in under twenty four hours, quite a few times onsight. From the comfort of my couch these appear to be rather serious affairs and he had his systems dialed and got the job done, quickly.

I recall fragments of a conversation about the Wall of Early Morning Light, and his successful attempt at climbing it in a day. It sure would be cool to share that story with the world.

There are people that should chime in now, to help preserve Brian's incredible El Cap legacy of speed ascents.

During this time period Brian established more than a rack full of long, complex aid and free big wall climbs in the sands of the desert. As well as scores of difficult short routes on sandstone and limestone.


Werner, to delve deeper into your query, "So, what does that prove?" is to dive far into the psyche of Brian and how he lived his life during the decade we were pals. It doesn't prove anything at all is the short answer.

"Nothing means anything" is how Brian used to end his letters.
That's as far down the hole as I can go tonight.


horsethief

Social climber
Japatul, CA
Oct 29, 2014 - 08:39pm PT
Albert, I want to thank you for all you have contributed to this memorial thread of Flyin Brian. I have appreciated all the pics from everyone and all the stories. I have never felt you were trying to "prove" anything, only remember a friend for what he is.
Flo Rogers

climber
LasVegas
Nov 1, 2014 - 10:13pm PT

Wanted to get this in the thread here. I took this August 2013. So grateful that Jim made it to the celebration of Brian's life one year later.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Nov 2, 2014 - 03:55pm PT
Thanks for the contributions, Tony and Flo.

I want to make it clear that I am not "trying to prove anything" by posting on this thread. If people want to turn this thread negative I'm not going that direction. I am sharing stories and photos of a lost friend who, among many other skills, interests, and talents, happened to be a very accomplished rock climber. Some would argue Brian was among the gifted rock climbers that has ever lived.

But, nothing means anything, after all, when it is said and done and you're dead.

I will continue sharing photos, and stories of my friend Brian if folks are still interested. Brian left behind many photos, and even more stories, of many ascents all over the world. Don't worry, I have no interest in posting topos or maps of any specific climbs in respect for the rock, the community, and mostly for my friend Brian (this mainly pertaining to undocumented new areas over the last decade).

Thanks Flo, for the photo of Bridwell. As lots of folks probably know, Jim Bridwell is considered by many to be among the more influential climbers of all time. He and Brian were good friends and as was mentioned way upthread, Jim saw that Brian had a very special gift for scaling mountains. I believe JB wrote something like, "I never saw anyone climb such a hard new route in such appalling weather conditions."



Vegasclimber

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Nov 2, 2014 - 04:03pm PT
I appreciate the stories, and I agree that the thread should stay positive. Good on you for not getting drug into any drama. Don't make me call Off Topic Marmot folks....
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Nov 2, 2014 - 05:05pm PT
Thanks Albert for the great stories about Brian, I wish I had known him.
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Nov 2, 2014 - 08:51pm PT
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Nov 2, 2014 - 08:53pm PT
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Nov 2, 2014 - 09:24pm PT
And yeah Albert it did matter. So many Valley self proclaimed "hardmen" walked past NOCS spraying about how they were just about to "jump on it" and yet it sat for over a decade without a serious attempt. I'll never forget begging him to do an El Cap route with me. I told him any route, and speed, I'll haul, but we have to climb the "Captain" together at least once considering all that we have done and been through. He told me the only thing that even held his interest was to climb NOCS solo. It was the only thing that was even worth losing sleep over. We talked, and he said he would rather bolt sport climbs with me and laugh and have fun then climb the captain for the umpteenth time. He said there are so many better memories doing first ascents in far off places with me, then to just repeat someones route, so thats what we did. He was right. So many memories charging into the unknown with him trumps any repeat of a route could have ever been. I left this page alone for a bit, f*#k I just miss him so much. I was looking at some old pics of routes that we where still supposed to go climb together... my son who has a strong connection to Brian asked if he could go with. 12 years old and his desire to venture onto the cliff, charging into the unknown, all smiles and too naive to even know what he is signing up for just lights my soul. Something about a young kid getting way over his head, following someone who is slightly off their rocker, and being too dumb to know any better just makes me smile like I maybe I have learned what I was supposed to and now its time to just spread my wings and leave the nest. Time will tell if I crash and burn, but it will be one hell of a story.
Brian's legacy will live on through the ones he loved and shared his unique life with. The crap that you read in the mags is written so you will buy mags. The article the was written about Brian in Climbing a few years back is a complete work of crap. Nothing was told about the man that he was, and things where told that any editor and journalist should be ashamed of. A feature article on one of the most prolific FA of our time and one of the most caring and loving people that I have ever dared to let into my life and you want nothing but gore and mindless dribble about someones dark side? I was interviewed by the journalist for a story, at that time the Brian and Burt show was going full throttle. He wanted nothing of my story and said it made no sense. Yeah everyone has a story of runnout A4 and beaks and blades and blah blah blah, but this story should who he really was. A friend. I never purchased another climbing rag after I read his story. Just utter crap. I will share that story in the next few days. So cheers to Brian. The only fu$ker that would ever have the balls to tell you to your face what you where doing wrong but in that same breath let you know that he appreciated and valued your friendship.
Kurt Burt
and a repost
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Nov 2, 2014 - 10:57pm PT
Thanks Albert, and Burt, for keeping Brian's memory alive.

What a treasured memory climbing Bad Seed on El Cap with he and Hans will always be. When Brian was leading a hard aid pitch faster than seemed possible, you knew that you were witnessing a force of nature. As Burt and Ammon can attest!
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Nov 4, 2014 - 02:43pm PT
Thanks for the reply Kurt. When Brian went for the second ascent of NOCS it was the only time in our friendship that he even once exclaimed some sort of hesitation about the outcome of an adventure.

I couldn't ever get him to take me up El Cap, either. I could see his point, by the time we met he had already climbed quite a few of the most extreme routes on the formation (with some 36 or so ascents of El Cap). Besides, it is always way more exciting putting up a big wall FA in a remote area then do a repeat of some trade route so that's what we did.



I've been biting my tongue about Climbing magazine issue 265, April 2008. At the same time I feel obligated to my friend and know that he would have expected we would point out this grievous wrong by the media.

(Edit:): It is reasonable to suggest that if a climber is being "profiled" in a national magazine in regards to accomplishments as a leader in the field, that the story would focus on their climbs and their many first ascents and significant repeats.

The first thing Brian told me when his "profile" came out was, "I can't show this to my grandmother." Brian was deeply hurt by what these folks did to him. And they did it all for just a few measly bucks, a chance to see their name in print and to boost their reputation in the sleazy, shallow world of climbing journalism.

We saw the rough draft a number of weeks before publication and were disgusted with some of the bashing regarding Brian's youth and of his family. I'm assuming many folks reading this might agree that some things told around the campfire with trusted "friends" need to stay in your hearts or heads, not to be sold and published in a national magazine.

We pleaded with the author to delete a few sentences. The author told us the editor thought that it fit the story just perfect. The author, photographer and the staff of Climbing magazine did the world climbing community, and much more importantly Brian McCray, a terrible disservice. I hope those folks realize the wrong they did, but somehow find that highly unlikely. Empathy is a trait which does not get one far in the world of climbing media. It is no wonder Brian considered most of the climbing media professionals as "parasites".

I tried to keep this positive and avoid the "drama", yet after all this is a thread about a man of honor, integrity and respect. And sometimes the ugliness of humanity needs to be pointed out in the search for truth.



the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Nov 4, 2014 - 04:57pm PT
Respect.



Honor.



Your friends.
Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA/Joshua Tree
Nov 4, 2014 - 08:22pm PT
Albatross, was that the article titled "The Contrarian"?

That was such a sh*t piece of work and made me realize all the more why Brian hated the climbing rags so much.

The title alone told me it wasn't going to be anything positive. He deserved so much better.

Anyone who knew him knew that article was so far off the mark as a "profile" piece.

Burt - I too never purchased Climbing again after that. Showed what hacks they were.

Albert, Ammon, Burt and everyone else in this thread thank you and keep posting your stories and pics.
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
Nov 4, 2014 - 08:34pm PT
I obviously knew a different Brian than they claimed to know.
I prefer(ed) mine....He was Real.
nah000

climber
canuckistan
Nov 4, 2014 - 09:09pm PT
a story Ammon wrote up for a thread in 05:

Last year Brian McCray and I were climbing Lost in America together. It was the first time we had roped up since the little accident on the Dunn Route, in Zion. For those of you who don’t remember I got hit badly by rock fall.

Anyway, we started up LIA, a 16 pitch route on El Cap in a push. We were chomping at the bit with enthusiasm and the way we divided the pitches, proved this. The plan was that I was going to lead 8 in a row and then Brian’s 8 pitch block would lead us to the summit.

Everything was going as planned and I was really psyched to have finished my block in under seven hours. Brian took over and swiftly lead the next two pitches. On his third pitch of his block he whipped.

I heard him yell out with pain and then silence. “Are you all right”, I asked him.

“Yeah, I’m fine”, came his reply.

Brian called for some tape, which I promptly tagged up to him. He led the next two pitches and I could tell he was slowing down, just a hair.

“Hey, I know I was supposed to take us to the top….. but, do you think you can take over the lead”, Brian yelled down.

“No problem, fix the line and I’ll be right up”, I yelled back. I cleaned the pitch, grabbed the rack and continued to the summit, making it in record time.

We had a few friends at the rim when we arrived and I was ready to celebrate. I went to give Brian a “high-five” when I noticed the look on his face. The look told me that everything wasn’t ok. He took the tape off his hand and showed me the damage.

“Holy SH#T, what the hell happened down there” I asked Brian. That’s when Brian relayed the story to us.

Apparently, Brian had just put in a beak. He tested it, clipped in his aider and climbed to his high point. Somehow the bottom of his aider got clipped to the piece below. The beak blew and he whipped. Since the bottom loop of his aider was clipped into the piece below it flipped upside-down as he fell pass the piece.

The beak that was still attached to his aider also flipped upside-down, creating a hook. His hand embedded into the hooked beak and the first thing that caught him was his hand, which was attached to piece above.

So, that was what the yell was all about and as I looked at his opened wound my stomach did a few flips.

Wow, I thought….. Brian is a TRUE hardman. After this bizarre accident ripped opened the palm of his hand, he bit-the-bullet and continued for two more pitches. Not complaining, once.

The image of Brian hanging by his hand with a beak entrenched into his palm, still makes me shudder.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Nov 5, 2014 - 05:28am PT
Yes, the article was called "The Contrarian". The title baffled us as well.

Out of respect for Brian, I'd like to suggest we not print the names of the dirtbags, or post that trashy "profile" in this thread. Those hacks should be ostracized from the community. The story was an incredible insult to the man who was so influential in shaping modern hard rock climbing in the US. I would not be nearly as critical of their assault on Brian if we had not seen the rough draft in the weeks before its submission and begged the author to reconsider, to spend a bit more time polishing it up to look more like a traditional climbing profile.

I always imagined if a "climbing profile" is done on someone it should be a gift, a treasure of sorts, something that the person would be proud of, perhaps even frame it for the wall. After a half hour phone call debrief when the issue came out, Brian never once mentioned the article again, he tucked the magazine away.


"I can't show this to my grandmother". It brings tears to my eyes to remember those words. So sad.


drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Nov 5, 2014 - 12:15pm PT
Albatross-
We don't need to fully discuss it because it's obviously a sore subject to you and others, and most of all Flyin Brian (RIP)but....

In regards to that story in Climbing- I reread it this morning.
As an outsider, meaning I wasn't friends with Brian but certainly knew of him...
I wasn't left with a negative image of the Man after reading the article.
It highlighted a bunch of his rad ascents and iincluded major props from The Bird.
The parts about his struggles, to me and maybe others on the fringe, only added insight into his drive. We all have a past, even if we'd like to forget it.
I'd like to think that his Grams would see that article now and glow with pride.

I only say this stuff to maybe give you, and others who were close, solace.
Solace knowing that the general climbing readership could read that article and not be left with a tainted image of Flyin Brian.

NO offense or disrespect intended here but let me know if you'd like me to delete this post.
Peace to you- sorry you lost your friend- dude was a legend.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Nov 5, 2014 - 01:50pm PT
drljefe no need to delete. I'm sorry you never got to meet Brian he was way cooler than was portrayed in that story. As far as the story, my main complaint (besides it being shallow and poorly written) is that Brian asked for certain parts to be removed and they weren't. That's called "dissing someone" in my circle of friends.


One awesome aspect of ST is that all of us can contribute to his legacy. Brian touched the lives of many, many people in a number of aspects of life, from his AA groups to the art and mineral community and on and on. Keep the stories coming this way!

the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Nov 5, 2014 - 05:54pm PT
Brian and I used to hang out in this magical sanctuary deep in the desert sands. The camp has expansive views and the area happens to have a couple of cracks around to mess around on. The rock sort of sucks, but with no other folks around it was a slice of nirvana to us. Nice and quiet.
(And we hope it stays that way).


Early on in our friendship, I hike out a week before with a buddy and stash in this big crack system all sorts of food for an upcoming climb with Brian. Took my time vacuum sealing crackers, candy, cocoa, oatmeal and a few plastic bottles of Pepsi for Brian. Yeah Brian, we are set up dude, you don't have to bring a thing I gleefully exclaimed over the phone. When we meet at the parking area, I notice him tossing in his pack a can of soup and a couple candy bars.

We hike up the sand dunes for what feels like hours carrying all the usual crap for a big first ascent: ropes, rack, drill, bolts, etc… When we finally get to camp it looked like a war zone. There were all sorts of wrappers fluttering in the wind, empty Pepsi bottles strewn about. Damn near all our food had been devoured by something…


Night fell and we found out what creatures had devoured all those delicious groceries that had been left laying out like a smorgasbord.


They were so happy to see us, the bringers of such wonderful delights. We weren't as psyched, they hopped across us all through the night we hardly slept a wink. One even dragged a small stuff sac with my camera in it deep into a crack to be lost to history. By sunrise we were pissed.

So the next night we come up with an idea to get even. We were in desperate need of sleep after a long day struggling around on the rocks.


The trap didn't work out as well as hoped, but it sure entertained us for a couple hours. Fortunately most Ringtail Cats are smarter than us.


Some time goes by and our next trip comes up. We are stoked to get some suffering, and some sleep, in. Brian hauls this huge .44 magnum pistol up the mountain to base camp. Night falls and we are getting set up to even the score for all that delicious food the idiot had left out for them to eat.

We soon see eyes in the distance, maybe a 100' away. Brian sets up to rest against a rock, massive pistol in hand. Now keep in mind Brian has about as much chance hitting that Ringtail at 100' as I would have throwing a #6 cam. But it was all part of the fun times. You ready? Yes. BBBOOOOOMMMM! I bet that shot echoed for 10 minutes. We howled with laughter. And of course no way in hell he even came close to hitting that cute little cat.


A day or two later we hike out. Reaching the vehicles a sheriff pulls up. You boys doing alright? I noticed your vehicles a couple days ago. Uh, yes sir, just out for a little backpack trip. Oh, ok, ya' know last year we had some hikers report about some climbing gear and such out by Lowrey's Thumb. Guess some idiot rock climbers been out there. Wow, officer, that's weird, thanks for checking in with us we had a great camp out

After the cop drove off I notice a freaking bullet hole in side of my truck just behind the drivers door. Reaching in the sand I find the slug. WTF? Man, this sucks. Albert, you don't own your possessions they own you. We start laughing, how true. (Brian quoting a line from one of our favorite Chuck P books).

At the time Brian owned this piece of sh#t little red car I mean it was in rough condition. A couple of months later he goes to sell it and the guy is like WTF? There is a bullet hole going all the way through the car? We laugh again over the phone as he recounted the story.

I'm not sure what the moral of that little tale is, but that's the only time I've been around a gun at our sanctuary in the sky. Hope you enjoyed the story and before you get all hating me about animals check this photo.



Have a good night folks.



mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Nov 5, 2014 - 05:59pm PT
Awesome Albatross.


Wish I could have met him.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Nov 6, 2014 - 05:03pm PT
BUMP sure enough
FOR HONEST LIVING
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Nov 6, 2014 - 05:06pm PT
I was with Flo today at the NPR board meeting. We had a good chat.
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Nov 12, 2014 - 07:51pm PT

This pic was taken right after our first route together. Brian always called me the walking guidebook. I can remember climbs, pitches, placements, and most blurbs about routes. Well used to be able to, I'm getting old now. Well our first route together was going to be something hard. Latitudes was too much hype at the time for him, he wanted something obscure, something dark, something where the sheep don't go. I dove into my list of routes in my head and the first thing that popped out was the Forbidden Corner. A Walt Shipley/Barry Ward route in the back of the Temple of Sinawava in Zion. It lies across the river from Monkey Finger and from what I had heard it hadn't seen a second ascent. Brian didn't care. I described the line and he was hooked. We left the next day. I was just of the legal age to buy cigarettes, and some how I was off with "Flyn" Brian repeating a Walt Shipley route... WTF. We hiked our stuff to the base and I lead the first pitch, 5.9 loose, scary number but kinda no big deal. Brian lead the next pitch, beaks off a ledge that would hurt if you blow it. I watched him aid, I have never seen someone lead like this before. One aider, one adjustable daisy chain, and holy sh#t it was fast! He tagged up a few smokes on the pitch but before I knew it we were bivied in this crazy corner. My girlfriend at the time was bivied in the car parked across the river. We took a telescope and walkie talkies. We talked to her, warned her when the rangers where coming and all that good crap. Me and Brian talked that night about a lot of things. El Cap routes, music, and what life meant for both of us. How broken must one become before clarity comes? We were desperately trying to find out.
The next day, I led off the portaledge using the Brian method. I was hooked. I led, he led, I led, he led, and we bivied that night just 2 pitches from the top. It was dark out and we laid back smoking cigs laughing about something when the walkie talkie came alive. My girlfriend just had something bang on the car. It did it again, and again, and again. It was loud enough to where I could hear it over the radio. She was hysterical, honking the horn, flashing the lights and yelling into the darkness trapped inside our wagon. I was terrified seeing the car lights blinking and hearing the horn over the raging river. Brain looked me straight in the eyes and told me to turn the walkie off. You don’t want to hear whats going to happen. We both thought we were going to hear my girlfriend be murdered. Well it subsided, she got out of the car and reported all these dents all over the car. It was a buck slamming our car for some reason.
We topped out early on our third day and Brian asked me if I had ever pitched a bag… I was lost. He said throw the bags down so we can walk down with nothing. I laughed and said politely I like my gear and no I’m not hucking it off a 1200 foot cliff. He assured me that it would be fine. This was a time when you could drive into the canyon. The Temple was packed. I mean hundreds of people. Well that mother f*#ker had a plan, he got my girlfriend to aim the scope at monkey finger and on our que start pointing and making a fuss. We prepped our bags until the last detail was perfect. We got the walkie and said our code word. Like little sheep they went for the bait. It looked like a flock of birds changing direction. They scoured the wall across from us as our bags rocketed towards the ground. It was so loud. The impact was tremendous. We walked down and not a word was said to us.
This was the start of a friendship that I have never had before. A bond that I hope people find at some point in their lives. Here, months after Brian left this earth, I still pick up my phone to call him because something I saw had to be shared. I miss my emails that shared so much of what he truly was about. I miss our conversations about the parasites (climbing media) and how the truth just isn't depicted and how shame on our sport for letting our heroes who blazed the path we follow die broke and alone and without the respect they deserve. I miss the irreverent behavior that drew us together and made us friends for life. Most of all I miss that god damn crooked-tooth smile with that sinister snicker that let me know that adventure was near. I am 34 years old now, yet I find myself on a daily basis wondering if I will ever have the drive to venture into the unknown again without him. So a big f*#k you and thank you to a man who helped me in so many ways.

More stories to come, god there are so many, and I can’t wait to share.

Kurt Burt

the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Nov 12, 2014 - 08:17pm PT
Kurt there is still some adventure left in the world, see you soon and thanks for sharing.

Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Nov 13, 2014 - 04:03am PT
Thank you for the share I have a shoe shot but when I saw it ah...
well I got all tore up again
Richard Harrison whom I had met I can understand , but not BrianA man who's life was supposed to last another Harding I had hoped....it makes me so sad
wtf
more later....

okay I had to drive a sweet noodnick to school she likes missing the bus when daddy is huffing (not glue)
and seemingly sad ,
Playing on the computer and getting mad at the pictures that did not come out worth a turd.

I have two trees to share ...they will not let you in or out of this houseI am stick in small rock hell seemingly forever now...I make do
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Nov 14, 2014 - 09:30am PT
big eyes all around and here is to Brian and to sending him a song and a route and bump for clean ((ha)) Honest lee ((not sure who lee is
oh maybe she [Click to View YouTube Video]))
BUMP FOR honest LIVING
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Nov 14, 2014 - 12:16pm PT
Burt, loved your post. Question. How do you lead hard aid with one aider?
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Nov 17, 2014 - 06:11am PT
[Click to View YouTube Video] http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=39962&msg=40162#msg40162[/url]
scroll to Brian's post this is the defeinition of Hero ,face up yo scmbckt and ask the hard questions and tell what it is not what all want to hear[youtube=[Click to View YouTube Video] ]
filmcookie

climber
nashville
Nov 23, 2014 - 08:28pm PT
just checking back in. 3 months later, my heart still aches on a daily basis. some days i feel i can't breathe. and yet, no real family to mourn with besides my dear grandma. reading everything here helps so much. you were his family. thank you.

so, i am back visiting my grandma and she's doing well. 92 and strong. she received 77 cards in the mail. all amazing. all beautiful. i simply cannot thank everyone enough. grandma was always so very proud of brian but she has been floored by the amount of people who wrote stories or told her how much he meant to them.

she has repeated several times...kim, can you believe how many people loved him?

yes, grandma. yes, i can.

much love to everyone here,
kim mccray
NA_Kid

Big Wall climber
The Bear State
Nov 23, 2014 - 08:51pm PT

I have had this photo from an old Black Diamond catalog on my wall since I first wanted to climb ElCap. Such an inspiration this photo was.

Thank you Ammon for the story, now I know just that much more history behind the photo.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Nov 23, 2014 - 11:23pm PT
hey there say, kim... very nice to see your post, this eve...

god bless and prayers, for you and your gramma...
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 3, 2014 - 01:37pm PT
Kim thank you so much for checking in with us. Indeed, Brian was loved by many many people around the world, not just climbers, but his friends at AA, and parts of the rigging, art and mining communities. I still think about our friend most everyday, too. Brian was one of those very special persons in the world, someone you should be thankful to love and know.

Brian was quite close to Grandma Melba and he always had wonderful, kind words when he spoke of her. I would encourage folks who have been touched by Brian's life to send his Grandma a card this holiday season.

Please send cards to:
Melba McCray
One Country Lane, Apt B105
Brookville, Ohio 45309

I find comfort in knowing that Brian is still very much with us, indeed his legend will live a long time, much longer than most of the rest of us punters.


Thanks Brian, for being such an awesome teacher and loyal friend.


the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 17, 2014 - 08:53am PT

I miss both of you men. It sure was fun exploring some new territory and simply hanging out.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 18, 2014 - 04:28pm PT
I'm going to keep adding to this thread even if it feels like I am talking to myself.

I've alluded to the fact that Brian was very much into art, both as painter and as a collector. His home(s) over the last number of years were graced with some lovely paintings of his own and those he had purchased. I know of four portraits and a couple self-portraits that Brian painted, here is one of those four portraits. Enjoy.



neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Dec 18, 2014 - 05:11pm PT
hey there say, albatross... thank you for a wonderful share... though some may not see it really fast, each night...

i know these will be appreciated, whether now or later...

folks really DO get to come back and read, when they are not busy...

i am working on something for his family, too, so you will know, the things that you share, are not just 'talking to yourself'...

these things will be cherished by many of his buddies, for years to come...

god bless...
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 18, 2014 - 06:13pm PT
Thank you neebee and W.L.

I'm trying to share some of the time I had with that most amazing of human beings. Brian and I spent a fair amount of our lives discussing, among many other subjects, the truth that one of us would die before the other. Knowing how accomplished Brian was in anything he set his heart to makes me think that he lived his life in fast forward compared to most individuals.

I feel certain that Brian would not want folks to feel sorry for him. Brian lived a very full and intense life and he conquered many challenges. It seems best we look at his many milestones as rather remarkable achievements considering how hard he worked to achieve "success".



There was an earlier question about Brian's aiding system. Brian used a Yates adjustable daisy and some custom aiders from his friends at Misty Mountain. Kurt and Ammon are far more qualified to explain the set up, but I'll try to post some pics soon of the gear.
toejahm

Trad climber
Chatsworth, CA
Dec 19, 2014 - 11:13am PT

Albatross, he was quite a painter and without a doubt an interesting portrait. I may have met you on The Warrior with Brian and a day/route I'll always remember. Anyways, after his death I decided to paint this portrait which I've been working on pretty much since then.

So sorry for your loss, he was really a great soul.....

peace,
KR
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Dec 19, 2014 - 02:13pm PT
In October 1992 my wife and I had a round the world climbing trip. First stop was the eastern side of the States. New River Gorge was first, then Seneca. I was climbing Terra Firma when a group of climbers walked under the crag. One shouted up

"Hey, is that hair for real?" (I had very long, very white hair at the time. It's still very white but there isn't that much of it left now.)

I replied in the time honoured manner "Why don't you go f*#k yourself?"

The group erupted with laughter, then wandered off.

Some weeks later we were in Red Rocks and I was doing Stratocaster Direct. A blond guy with two girls walked up to the crag. When I looked down he shouted "Hey, why don't you go f*#k yourself?"

When I got down he came over and with a huge smile said "Hi, I'm Brian" and held out his hand. He didn't need to say where he'd seen me before!

We spent the day climbing side by side. The girls with him were like a fan club. Whenever Brian clipped a bolt they'd coo "Nice clip...". Clip was pronounced with one of those double vowel sounds - 'cle-yip'! Even now we occasionally use the 'nice clip' when we're climbing. That was the only time I met Brian. It's very sad that he's gone.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 19, 2014 - 05:01pm PT
Now this is what I am talking about! Thanks for the stories and contributions.

KR, I remember that day on the Warrior with fondness. We got our ass kicked on that horrific brush coated vertical gully. It was one of those oak filled nightmares where every few steps forward you get pushed back a foot by some limb snagged on your pack. This may have been an early ascent, certainly before the media starlets found it, who knows there are probably fixed ropes or rebar ladders on sections of the approach now? We hiked a bunch of swaged quick link set ups for the lower few anchors, a hand drill, hammer and couple bolts. Felt in the middle of nowhere when suddenly we hear voices at the base.

Your buddy AF had climbed with Brian (and maybe you had I can't remember). AF was giving Brian crap for having home made knee pads with climbing rubber. AF had on shorts. This route is somewhat of a thrutch with some physical climbing.

The first pitch was a long chimney, maybe 5.9? Brian took off with no gear, just the ropes, in his tennies and gets way up the pitch, "hey dude can you send up that big cam." By about the top of the first pitch we start seeing twin streaks of fresh blood. Brian gets to the top of the second or third pitch an AF's knees are just totally blood-soaked and dripping blood. We could not help but snicker at that one. (Oh and hey thanks for all the pics Brian passed on, KR).

KR and AF continue on up the route and we rap after about 5 pitches (it turns out that section had already been equipped with swedge rap hangers). Get to the base and find a .5 cam. Shortly after we hear the gripped leader far above yelling "hey dude you got the .5 on your harness?" More little laughs on our part. Ha Ha. We did end up drilling one set of rap anchors from the base down (brian, the dead guy drilled them, not me).

A week later Brian gets a call from AF. "Oh hey Brian, any chance you could make me a pair of those sticky rubber knee pads?" Ha Ha. If I recall correctly the cam was returned to its owner.


jaaan that is a wonderful story thank you for sharing. Totally sounds like Brian. He was a merry prankster and putting up routes all the way to his end.

(Edit to add: What a wonderful painting)

Let's hear some more stories...
WBraun

climber
Dec 19, 2014 - 05:05pm PT
WOW ... damn good portrait painting ......
toejahm

Trad climber
Chatsworth, CA
Dec 19, 2014 - 06:28pm PT

Albatross, I can't remember who dropped the .5 but I do remember the two of us looking at flyns knee pad and thinking how comfortable he must be....ha.....if your ever in LV and interested in climbing let me know...

peace bro,

Kenny
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 22, 2014 - 04:59pm PT


According to the story Ammon wrote, Brian lead two more pitches after the beak ripped open his palm and left him hanging upside down by his hand. Brian told friends he could see tendons inside the wound of his palm.


It is telling that Brian was able to continue cranking out serious aid and free first ascents (and repeats) of both sport routes and big walls for nearly a decade after what looks to be a rather gnarly wound to his dominant hand.



the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 26, 2014 - 12:07pm PT
I want to take time to point out that there are a number of companies who honored Brian and recognized his many important contributions to the community. This is probably an incomplete list and hopefully others will chime in to show thanks for these companies who were generous to Brian.

Yates Gear provided much gear and other valuable assistance for Brian.

Bluewater Ropes provided I bet at least 2 miles of rope for Brian's adventures.

Misty Mountain helped Brian with harnesses and other custom made gear.


Buy American! Support these companies who were invaluable in assisting Brian reach for his dreams.

(Edited post)
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 29, 2014 - 04:05pm PT

Climbing has been labeled with many titles. It is called anything from a sport to an art. We are Conquistadors of the Useless to borrow a beautiful title of an older climbing book. For such a “useless” activity, it has changed the lives of thousands. Usually for the better!

To some, climbing is purely physical. To others, predominantly mental. To a few, spiritual. It can be whatever you like it to be! For me and many others it is all of this put together. Climbing seems to be an excellent microcosmic analogical parallel to life itself.

I like to consider the first ascents I have done to be works of art much like a painting on a canvas or a sculpture in marble. They are experiences all of their own. Another language of expression. It takes a creative eye, the willingness to take an idea (or a dream) and put forth effort to make it a reality.


Oddly, the climbs seem to take on the characteristics of the first ascensionist themselves. Or is it the other way around? For me, finding, making and traveling new paths on the stone is the highest rung on the ladder of this silly game we play.


Words of Fly'n Brian McCray
kk1982

Trad climber
Dec 31, 2014 - 01:26am PT
Thanks for sharing those words, Albatross. don't stop...
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Dec 31, 2014 - 04:25am PT
Albert your love for Brian is an inspiration, keep it coming.
Thank you!
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 31, 2014 - 07:32am PT
Thank you so much for the encouragement. It has made this snowy morning even more beautiful.

There is a joke that has been circulating around for years. Put yourself in a crowded bar and how can you tell who is involved with the climbing media? Well, obviously they will tell you. But if you are a wallflower like me, the easiest way to tell if someone is a media whore is to throw a quarter on the floor and run. Because there is likely to be a riot. I imagine if you tried that in Boulder or Carbondale they would have to call in the Colorado National Guard to restore order. Ha Ha!

Brian was well known for being "anti-media" particularly in the last 6-7 years of his life. Can you blame him? After all if you are feeding hungry mouths and they gnaw your hand to pieces it can become difficult to trust certain types of folks. But we need to remember that Brian has moved on and it is our obligation for those of us who knew him to share his stories, his life, so that his legend and spirt lives. Where else but ST can a community come together and share tales of such an amazing person? As just one example, there are posts here from Ron Puterbaugh and Eddie Begoon, two of Brian's earliest climbing mentors and friends, men that Brian wrote about with fondness and respect. (good stories to come soon)


I wish I could speak more specifically about the extremely technical aid ascents and big wall free climbs that Brian did, but the places we hung out are still relatively untainted by climbers. We felt that more climbers can only take away from the magic and dilute the experience. It's probably difficult for some to understand, yet we weren't climbing for points on Mountain Project or to sell our souls to the mags. We climbed for the unknown, for the adventure. For the fun of it!

Keep those stories coming this way. We owe it to Brian.

Wishing all the best in the new years.
Albert





Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Dec 31, 2014 - 10:19am PT
Marietta Uhden...

11/26/.2014 by Planetmountain

Marietta Uhden, born in 1968 in Munich, the highly talented German climber and important world reference point for sport climbing, passed away in the night between Sunday and Monday 24 November after a long battle against cancer.

Uhden travelled widely both to climb outside and to complete.
Between the years 1990 and 2005 Marietta Uhden played a leading role in climbing competitions, winning the German Lead Championship a staggering 10 times, winning the German Bouldering Championship twice and winner bronze in both the 1997 Lead World Championship in Paris and the European Championship in 2000.

Her climbs will certainly be remembered fondly also by the
Arco Rock Master spectators who always reserved a special applause to Uhden,


after having identified in the German a shy but hugely determined, ever smiling personality.


Uhden also found the time to climb superbly outdoors and as early as 1997 she repeated Happy Biceps at Austria's Schleier Wasserfall, an 8b+ that could easily be graded 8c.

After numerous other routes this difficult, including Le Must in the Verdon Gorge, Wassermusik at the Schleierwasserfall and Baby-Basher at Kochel,

In 2001 Uhden managed to climb one of the first female 8c's with her redpoint of Sonne im Herzen also in Germany's Kochel area.


With her premature death the world climbing community looses a great persona and an example to all.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Dec 31, 2014 - 02:49pm PT

"Over the course of my years I have witnessed countless climbers posturing, puffing, pounding their way to the so called limelight of our honorable sport. Desecrating the very nature of the Human Spirit and the Rock itself. Everybody wants to be a hardman. Few care to step out of the herd, escape the corral and do the work necessary to find and climb new routes, actually take (not feign) risk, and most of all, behave with integrity and humility towards their fellow man."


"On the other hand, I have met many kindred souls and formed meaningful, truthful relationships with hundreds of climbers throughout this world. Some I've only briefly met and some I've known for years. Climbers as a whole seem to understand each other more than average. We are resourceful, authentic and earthly. I am thankful for all those I have shared rope, trust, adventure and danger with!"

All above text, except photo captions, was written by Fly'n Brian McCray.


I share these photos and writing with some reservation. Brian was a private person in most ways and we should cherish that aspect of his personality. At the same time his climbing accomplishments deserve recognition. His high end free and aid ascents in Yosemite, Zion, Alaska, Red Rocks and Asia should be noted and remembered.

More to come next year…


cbburton

climber
Burbank, CA
Dec 31, 2014 - 06:14pm PT
It's more than wonderful to read through everyone's posts about Brian. I worked for Brian for a year or two, resoling shoes in his shop on Industrial Blvd., while he traveled around.

I have many fond memories of him coming back into the shop, after having been somewhere climbing some of the things mentioned earlier in this thread. All work would grind to an abrupt halt and we'd sit around talking for hours, and hours. I've never met such a 'humble badass' as Brian, although it wasn't until years later, after reading about his adventures (written by someone else) that I realized what he was out doing when he was absent from the shop.

There aren't any good words that I think accurately describe him, but he was an amazing human being. It still makes me incredibely sad that he's gone, but he is not anyone that I'll ever forget.

Thanks to everyone who has posted, and continues to post, in this thread.
coolrockclimberguy69

climber
Dec 31, 2014 - 06:28pm PT
"What's it going to make us do up there?"

Brian and Ammon would say this to each other before going for a push on a big scary route. Always cracked me up and to this day every time I find myself looking up at a nasty-looking pitch, I ask myself "what's it going to make me do up there?"



Thanks, Albert and everyone else, for all the photos and stories.

edit: I'm also curious about that shot of young Brian atop what looks like Zodiac. Rigid stemmed Friends and Vuarnet Cat Eyes...mid to late 80s?
rockgeir

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Jan 1, 2015 - 06:54pm PT
Very cool to see all of these new stories and photos added! Thanks!!!
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Jan 2, 2015 - 08:55am PT
(I received this email last night and am posting at the request of my pal WJ)


Brian and my relationship mainly consisted of email correspondence. Through mutual friends and the email conversations we developed a mutual respect and understanding that first ascents in wild untouched places and the world of climbing media did not go together. We both had been burned in the past and understood the cost of glory for self-indulgence.

We met separate from climbing and always talked about someday sharing a rope together. Our mutual interest for wild places and new routes for the sake of the experience (not for a magazine cover shot) seemed to bond us even without sharing the experience of creating a route together. I have now come to understand Brian as a very talented artist and collector but to me he was a master at one art form. The art of creating a climb. Ascending something that before was thought impossible. From finding a line and putting in the thousands of hours of work to finally redpointing the crux or aiding the deathfall runout, he was a MASTER. Brian was one of, if not the most versatile and competent climbers of his generation. He knew and was comfortable on any type of stone from 5.13 to A5.


On April 5th I took a fall rope soloing that resulted in a broken neck and a brain injury. After a month in the hospital and many more months of rehabilitation, I was struggling with the mess of ropes, gear, and rescue bolts drilled so they could pull me back from the void. Even though the most trained climber would hardly notice this mess 800 ft up in a place no one would look for it anyway, it was driving me crazy. I received a get well card from Brian and knew that he was the only one able to help. I sent a long drawn out email to him explaining that he was probably the only one around that could follow my route to retrieve the mess. He replied immediately and was making arrangements to go get my stuff this fall. I knew the A4 climbing and soft stone would be no problem for him.


5 months out from my accident, struggling to stay awake after 60 plus hours of watching my wife do the most hard-core thing I have witnessed, the birth of our son. We were in the hospital discovering a whole new big wall (having a newborn) when I got a call from Albert to congratulate me and to tell me some bad news. It seems Brian passed at almost the exact same moment our child was born.

Brian and I never did get to climb a wall together but we will forever be connected through this odd chain of events. Maybe it’s not so odd after all…

WJ
ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
Ogden, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 6, 2015 - 10:16pm PT
"What's it going to make us do up there?"

It was actually: What are "they" or "is he" going to make us do up there.

The question was directed towards the first ascentist. We loved climbing routes that had a reputation of being hard and would cuss out the FAist (as a joke) for being so bold.

We really liked the clever and absurd Eric Kohl routes and cussed his name plenty, ha ha.

Been thinking about you a lot, Brian. Miss you bro!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jan 7, 2015 - 02:15am PT
hey there say, albatross... oh my, thank you for WJ's very very touching story... oh my...


and say, 'hey there ol' ammon' this eve...

prayers for brian's gramma... and family...
for this new year as it unfolds without him...
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Jan 9, 2015 - 10:29am PT

McCray wrote:

There are many problems that come to climbers especially when crags become "mainstream". Climbers are the most critical group (of each other) than any I have ever seen. Most of the labor and financial commitment of the development of climbing areas comes from probable 1% of the climbing population. The rest of the 99% of the climbing population sit back and pocket their own money and enjoy the crags. The 1% are open to the most harsh criticism available and generally get little appreciation. If there is appreciation there is certainly no support financially! This is a very selfish group and society as a whole that we live in.

I have said before that arguing ethics is like arguing opinions. It is endless and futile. My opinion is that about 10% of the 1% willing to go out and put up routes have no business owning drills. They don't understand aesthetics, quality, vision, etc. But who gets to say?!


I have experienced entire crags of mine chopped/ removed by climbers trying to please government offices. Squeeze jobs between my routes that were 10 feet apart (did they think I didn't see the holds in between the 2 lines?!). New crags I found with maps and months of driving and hiking with maps that were shared with a few in confidence in early development end up being sprayed all over. I go back and find people trying to send my projects before the other 60 routes at the crag are even bolted. My first trip down to Portrero around '95 I bolted a route down there at the Outrage wall after Kurt Smith and Jeff Jackson both gave me dissertations on chipping and hold enhancement. While trying to redpoint all I heard was what a terrible thing I had done. I could go on and on. Most work that you do in climbing will be meaningless and thankless!

My best advice will be to find a few partners that you can trust and respect and avoid as many others as you possibly can! Don't tell anyone where your new crags are. Avoid the media and online forums as much as possible. And do your best to have fun!




Chippychopperone

Social climber
SLC, UT
Jan 9, 2015 - 11:54am PT
One of the best posts I have read in a long time.
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Jan 9, 2015 - 11:11pm PT
Well it has been a while since I have dared to even read the thread about Brian. 139 days since getting one of the worse calls of my life. Actually a message on Facebook from Brian's girlfriend asking me to call her ASAP. I thought nothing of this... see my wedding was in a few weeks and getting Brian corralled long enough to get rooms booked, travel arranged, and dates correct was a job in itself so I figured Flo took the reigns on this one. "Kurt Burt... Brian is dead." 139 days, 2 hours, 7 minutes ago those words still echo in my brain.

The kind of guy that Brian seemed to most was sometimes the farthest thing from the guy that I knew. His brash behavior, tell it like it is mouth, and ridiculously confident climber was sometimes left far behind we where together. I've seen him back off pitches, or walk away without a word about a subject he was so versed in, and even bow out of an altercation just because. We have spent countless nights looking up off the portaledge laughing about the stupidest things, or weeping over there serious ones. We fled the pull of the earth as we climbed higher into unknown territory, getting a few moments of relief from the everyday grind of life. I look at myself today, and like most of you that read this would give anything to be back in that simpler time, when life was just easier. The Kurt Burt and Brian show was that time for me. Now it seems so foggy, so damp, so real. He is gone... 139 days. I hate time. She is a cruel bitch that is slowly making Brians memory fade, and in so making my days seem brighter, and with less doubt.

Well here is the story that Fitz Cahall wouldn't run about Brian in his article about the mythical man. He called me for a story about Brian, and this is what I gave him. He wanted something about climbing, something about who he was... I laughed and told him this is who he was.
Listening to the stupid heart monitor beep was really getting old. I wanted to yell but it just hurt too much. The night before, a nurse decided that I needed more meds then my body could handle, and to make a long story short, after they got me settled down I had to have a monitor for a few days just to make sure I was ok... so beep, beep, beep, it went. I was into my 3rd week at a Trauma center in Las Vegas, after a 50 foot ground fall. Broken from head to toe, and still unstable in the spine. I was being tube fed, but on the cusp of getting real food and hopefully able to at least roll over. I was broken, completely broken. I had to ring every time i had to sh#t, then a half hour process as the lifted me ever so slowly to slide a bed pan in, then enema me so I didn't push... my pelvis couldn't handle the strain they said.

Todays was particularly rough, my stomach seemed 4 times the size of normal. I tried to sh#t, I got the enema, I just laid there flat on my back while multiple people watched me struggle naked from the waste down. I wanted to punch them all, I was mother f*#king Kurt Burt. I can do it myself and instantly I would succumb to the pain. what seemed like hours for them to decide what to do about my distended belly my dear friend walked into the door. Brian. It was time for his daily visit. He had my rope and gri gri at his shop and was trying to figure out why it didn't catch... but before he could relay his findings a nurse came in and told me their diagnosis... gas. I literally was in tears, feeling like my stomach was about to pop, and you tell me I have gas? I told the nurse, "trust me if I had to fart I would have!" she laughed and said it was because of my position, flat on my back is why, they needed to roll me over. A small crew came in and without a pause the nurse ordered Brian to help out. She told him to hold my hips and no matter what, do not let go. He jumped up and seemed eager to help me out. They cradled me so gently, and slowly rolled me over. As I got to my side it got real, it got real fast. The amount of gas the started to flow out my ass was insane, like I felt like I should have been tied down. Now picture this, Flyn' Brian McCray who at that time was on his way to being one of the best all around climbers of our day, known as the tough guy in climbing, standing in a hospital room holding his climbing partners hips, only a thin fabric gown keeping his body from my ass and now the gown is flapping... this went on for what seemed like minutes. I kept apologizing, but the gas kept coming... When they rolled me back over, I could't look at him without laughing. God we laughed, it hurt to laugh, but I couldn't stop. We laughed about this for years to come.

He did what he had to do, and that is who he was. He wanted to help me, and fix my problems in any way that he could. He gave me some brutal talks, and when my first marriage was dissolving, never letting me take the easy road and blame others. I talked to him just a few nights before he died, he sounded so good. He asked about my kids, about my bride to be, and we talked for a bit. He ended our conversation in a cryptic manner, and I firmly believe he was telling me goodbye. He was making sure that I was ok. In the time when most see it as his most selfish hour, he was still out there making sure that his people where going to pull it off.

139 days seems like so long. In 139 days I don't call his phone everyday anymore, but I do listen to a few voicemails that I just happened to save almost everyday. His website still haunts my bookmark bar, and I do click on it just hoping to see the little green symbol telling everyone he is resoling again. I flip through our topos and stare pictures of routes that we climbed, and they seem like they where just yesterday. He was closer to me then anyone ever has been, so losing him left a hole that I can't seem to fill. I apologize that I don't get on here more and tell the world about how much fun he was and what a good time we had, but I can't. It just literally crushes me. I have my demons and am in battle as I type this, just 10 days ago I walked up to the base of the leaning tower hoping to solo a route. I hiked my gear stood at the base and wept. I just couldn't pull free of the ground. I have a ways to go, but I'll get there. Who knows, maybe in another 139 days I will be spreading his ashes somewhere that meant something to him.

Kurt Burt

Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Jan 12, 2015 - 03:53pm PT
This picture I just found... It was my birthday and my girlfriend had a big surprise party for me and my grandfather (we share close birthdays). Understand Brian, he hates social events and always said his friends where burdens... then he would smile and snicker. Anyways the party went off without a hitch and it was truly a neat experience to have so many people show up to wish me well. Well about a hour into it there was a knock at the door. Brian walked in. He walked up to me and gave me the warmest embrace. He told me his obligation as my friend has exceeded its boundary line and now this was going to cost me. We talked for hours about my schooling and my family. As he left he leaned over and told me that he missed our adventures and that we need to get out and have some fun. He told me that I had something that most don't... I had heart. He used to tell me I climbed so well for a fat Mexican with a full time job and a family. He used to joke and call me "the best worst climber in the world, now imagine if you actually dedicated yourself to climbing?!! You'd be unstoppable!" We cheers Mufuddy, and thanks man!
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Jan 12, 2015 - 04:53pm PT
Kurt thanks for sharing those stories. I know the two of you did many adventures together, lots of significant first ascents in the desert. It is going to be cool to see those posted here.

Grief is perhaps one of the toughest aspect of living, it has helped me to share parts of Brian's life with the world. I have noticed several nice obituaries in some of the climbing mags online it would be cool if people linked those to this page as we add to Brian's astonishing legacy. There is no doubt in my mind (and lots of other people) that few individuals have had the combination of high end free climbing combined with the skills of cutting edge aid. Brian's talent should be recognized and honored by us.

Stich thanks for sharing that quote from the guidebook.




More tales from the crypt:


What was the first route you put up? Why put up a new route? What did that feel like?

First route I put up in Zion was Stigmata on Issac. New routes provide a sense of adventure and problem solving found nowhere else in climbing. We ran out of water and were pushed to our limits so we felt pretty rough. After the pain wears off there is a sense of accomplishment like an artist would feel in completing a painting.

Why are first ascents more attractive than repeats?

Are they? If they are why are first ascensionists so un rewarded, un respected and criticized? First ascents always require more work, commitment, suffering, labor, hardware, time, etc. I guess if some people think they are more attractive it is the slight consolation given to the new router

What does it take to put up a new route in Zion?

Time, hopefully and sense of style and a vision for lines. Thats the same for everywhere really so I guess in Zion you just need to be willing to get a bit more dirty

What were you looking for in new routes in Zion?

Nice aesthetic lines with a high level of difficulty. I don't think a single route of mine has been repeated there so I may never get to talk to someone who appreciates the routes

Who else was very active during the time you climbed in Zion?
The locals (Draper, Bird,French, Brody, etc) were busy with some things but nobody seemed to know what anyone else was doing. I hadnt met those guys yet. By the time I got there the earlier FA hardmen were gone. I think the scene has largely been dead since but Zion is relatively small and rock is soft. Hard aid can only be so hard because of the soft rock.

Were there any unique ethics or techniques developed to deal with the soft rock or other unique features of the area?

I eventually starting using large 7/16” x 2 1/2” rivets/ machine heads in 2” holes for placements that required a hole to be drilled. Before that people including myself used hooks, beaks, pins, heads, etc. All of them were less than desirable over time. Free climbing has improved and people have climbed harder cracks. On Stigmata and many of my routes I climbed free a lot 5.11-5.12 amidst the aid pitches which I dubbed “hybrid” climbing. Most aid climbers dont free climb that hard so I think harder new routes can be done on sight like this.

What are your thoughts on the 'creative scarring'' Olevsky technique used on Prodigal, Touchstone, Spaceshot, etc.?
I think its a “cop out”. If that was a good technique we would just chip holds to make hard free climbs 5.9. Those placements were likely going to get worn larger after subsequent ascents anyway

What do you see for the future of Zion climbing?

As I said, Zion is relatively small and limited. Most significant lines are done. Some few new ones will get added by the ambitious few. The parks are getting more and more crowded due to the Park Service's amusement park mentality. Rules and regulations increase constantly. Most climbers nowadays and good little boys and girls and prefer to play in cultivated playgrounds. The few who are not like this are constantly ducking and dodging and will explore further into obscurity and isolation.



Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Jan 12, 2015 - 09:25pm PT
ohhh Stigmata.... my first ever FA and got to do it with Brian... I will have to pull that one out of the confines of my mind... It really needs to see a second ascent. These are pics we took when we got down after hydrating in a really rancid water hole... including puking in the water... then drinking more.
Keystone

Trad climber
Page,AZ
Jan 15, 2015 - 02:46pm PT
It was something along the lines of “This is f*#king bullsh#t. Why did I ever agree to follow you idiots?” Brian screamed from several hundred yards below us.
“Well if he had ACTUALLY followed us, he wouldn’t be lost right now.” I grumbled to Albert. “Why would he take off on his own if he has no idea where he’s going? If that as#@&%e keeps yelling at me I’m out of here!”
A week earlier, Albert and I had negotiated the convoluted dirt roads of the remote Paria Plateau, then hiked a mile or so from road’s end to the edge of the Vermillion Cliffs (VC’s) and after a few failed attempts finally located the top of the “Albatross”. That evening we called our rope gun Fly’n Brian and excitedly told him of our grand plan to access the upper half of the route from the top rather than hiking the grovel trail from the bottom, and he agreed to try it. The morning of our descent, Brian had slept in as usual, then woke up, slammed a Red Bull and like a bat out of hell, loaded his pack and blazed a trail in the direction of the route. We shouldered our packs and tried to keep up but didn’t catch him until he had made the same mistake we had made a week earlier and cliffed himself out. When Brian finally post holed up through the sandy talus to reach us he made sure to insult us with a few more profane gems and my only thought at that point was, Fly’n Brian McCray was a f*#k and I would never go climbing with him again.
An hour later I hung from the rap line with five gallons of water dangling from my crotch and some of the most butt puckering exposure I had ever experienced. The pig I was supposed to bring down still lay on a ledge above us because I didn’t have the balls to ride it down the wall. Brian had already been to the bivi ledge two raps below me and had jugged back up to see what was taking me so long. There were two ropes on the anchor so Brian was able to climb up beside me.
“Where is the haul bag?” he barked.
The exposure had gotten the best of my bravery and “I’m f*#king terrified Brian,” is all I could muster.
He looked me in the eyes, confirmed my ineptitude and began belly laughing. The cloak of intensity he had been wearing fell away and underneath a smile of understanding and concern beamed.
“Don’t worry man you’ll be fine. Just trust the gear,” he said in a comforting voice and off he went to retrieve the bag.
In that moment I saw the wonderful soul of Brian McCray.
I am a pansy. I hate big walls. They scare the sh#t out of me. I prefer boulder fields, splitter crags and well spaced bolts. I vowed never to return to the VCs but when Albert convinced THE Fly’n Brian to come out and partake in them, I had to be part of it. Not part of it in a climbing sense but more as a spectator who earned his seat in the peanut gallery with his Sherpa skills. Watching such an amazing athlete perform his craft was one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do in my climbing career and even better was that I got to become his friend. I’m a huge sports fan and I do not exaggerate when I say I would have turned down Super Bowl tickets to watch him climb. What impressed me most about his climbing was not his technical prowess but how he tenaciously attacked a route with a complete lack of fear. Once, throughout the crux of the Dog and Pony Show (A4+), we had a full on conversation about the guiding business I was attempting to create. It was mind boggling to me that there were something like a dozen beaks and a death whipper below his stance, yet he chatted nonchalantly with me about the unimportant detritus of my life as if we were sitting on the sofa. Through eight years in the back country of the VC I never once saw Brian hesitate. Once he committed there wasn’t a moment of wasted thought or action, there was one direction and it was up. When he would wake up in the morning (always the last one) he would piddle around a bit, participate in some idle banter, then in an instant he would put on his cloak of intensity and change from an inquisitive, politically incorrect, irreverent , brutally funny person to a fearless machine with only one speed…. FAST! I saw several times when the intensity resulted in a pissed off partner. When Brian pushed the “Play Button” he had no filter and could cut like a knife, which resulted in a few of them vowing to never to climb with him again but when the day was over and the climbing turned into rest, he would snap out of his hypnotized state and return to his harmlessly fun nature. Like a drunk sobering up he would come to the realization that he had gotten out of line and I saw him on more than one occasion show remorse. Those that could forgive him and see that “Oh, that’s just the way he is. He’s harmless,” became his friend and got to know what a great person he was. I was lucky enough to be one of those people.
If you even knew him superficially you knew that he hated the climbing media with a passion! There was at least one diatribe dedicated to this subject on every trip we took. When we first started climbing the VC my plan was to write about and photograph our exploits so that I could achieve my dream of being published in Rock and Ice. Brian made me realize how vain this dream was. Almost everything Brian did was Rock and Ice worthy yet you rarely read about it (and if you did, it wasn’t fully endorsed by him). He climbed simply for enjoyment of creating new routes and trying like hell to get to the top of them and no more. He was a humble man. To articulate how humble and uninterested in trophies he was, I would like to tell you about Brian’s battle to free climb the Albatross. For eight years or so he threw himself at this route and despite many, many attempts he could not overcome the pump of the crux Splitter pitch and would fall short of the chains. Then, on a warm December day I photographed him passing his high point. I screamed up at him like a fanatic at a basketball game. He was finally going to send it! I stood up and paced back and forth, wringing my hands nervously and wishing him to the chains. I didn’t know who was going to be more excited about it, him or me. But then he slowed, sputtered and slumped onto the rope a cheater stick from success. I was dejected. Brian lowered, cleaned his gear and then passed the sharp end to his partner. His partner flashed the pitch and went on to get the first free ascent of an incredible line that Brian had invested so much time, money and soul into. I felt like my favorite team had just lost the big game in the final seconds. When I finally moped my way back to base camp I expected to see a depressed climber but instead found the opposite. With a satisfied sigh, all he had to say was, “I’m glad it’s been done,” and that was it.
So now I sit at my computer and wrestle with my conscience. If you would have told me a year ago that I would be posting stories about and photos of my climbing hero/friend, THE Fly’n Brian McCray, in Supertopo I would have punched you in the lips. I wonder what Brian would want me to do. I have come to the conclusion that he would be OK with this thread because those that have posted here are doing so out of love, respect and a desire to document the history of a rare human being. I miss you my friend!

Kyran Keisling









redrocker

climber
NV
Jan 15, 2015 - 08:50pm PT
Outstanding Kyran!

Great writing and a wonderful tribute to your friend.
Flo Rogers

climber
LasVegas
Jan 18, 2015 - 09:48pm PT
Kyran - thanks for this great account.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Jan 19, 2015 - 05:12pm PT
That was great Kyran, thanks for sharing with the world. Just to clarify the story, Brian first climbed that route ground up, as he did with virtually all of his ascents I know about. Brian was very much a ground up climber even on all those hundreds of high end sport routes.

One time we were in this crazy exposed position, I started jugging up a fixed rope, somehow got tangled up in my rookie fear state and Brian barked something or other at me. I cried, Who do you fvcking yell at when you are rope soloing? Nobody, I don't make mistakes. Instantly my fear was shaken, I steal a glance at Brian, he gazes in my eyes and smiles. We both bust out laughing.


Brian was indeed a humble man, a virtue which seems of less and less importance in today's world of social media. Brian's modesty and unwillingness to shamelessly self promote is likely a major reason so few understand his major accomplishments.

I hope folks noticed what Brian wrote in the above interview:

"On Stigmata and many of my routes I climbed free a lot 5.11-5.12 amidst the aid pitches which I dubbed “hybrid” climbing."

I try to think of all the climbers who ruthlessly proclaim their expertise and dominance in the desert and other places. It seems most rare the person who can climb 5.11/5.12 moves with A4 protection on soft rock (or repeat some of those technical routes on El Cap in record time). It will be interesting to hear of others attempting his routes, most of all I hope these people will be able to respect Brian's legacy and the resource.

Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Jan 22, 2015 - 06:28pm PT
bump bump

SURE ENOUGH!

FOR

HONEST LIVING!!

When did the musix die? What isthe fun in being told the answers if the journey is the lesson?,
Gone with the feelings that no matter what was said the disconected soulless hoard was coming .
No stopping to smell, no bow to the ghosts of spirit leaders who's remains are cached...
I am able, from so far away
now may be I C
sadness

The crackling sparks, the singing, of the Divi Divi Tree.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Feb 22, 2015 - 07:16pm PT
B U M P , F O R , , A S , ,P U R E, ,, ,AS , , C A N , , B E ! !
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Feb 22, 2015 - 07:42pm PT
Can not watch tv
He

In shilloette
Is an Oscar statuette

Good man done gone

Edge of time
Ledge was fine
All night was
Da' Kind
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Feb 23, 2015 - 01:17pm PT
THE WAY THAT CLIMBERS WERE <( HAD CHANGED) IN HIS EYES BUMP TO SEE HIM AND CLEAN DAN HEADLINING THE FRONT PAGE
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Feb 23, 2015 - 02:23pm PT
Thanks Gnome.

We are right around the six month mark that Brian decided to leave us. I hope people are healing. Have visited a couple of our old haunts over the last few months and can still hear Brian's voice, his wisdom and his laugh. I feel so blessed to have been his friend, they broke the mold after he was born.


Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Feb 23, 2015 - 08:40pm PT
Hey f*#ktard, still miss you and climb with you often. I hope you read this and are so pissed at us. I have to admit it makes me smile a little bit at the thought of making you uneasy. We miss you like crazy down here and as I find myself getting stir crazy I can't wait to climb some routes that we dreamt about.

6 months... f*#k

kurt Burt
kk1982

Trad climber
Feb 25, 2015 - 10:26pm PT
Hey I also hope everybody's healing here too. My plan to is do as many climbs of his so we can remember statements he made the rock would tell us. Last week, jamming up the flake and clipping burt's bolts (thanks, btw)on the way up The Silverback, I was sure thinking about you guys. If anyone here wants to partner up and climb some McCray routes, please get ahold of me!
kk1982

Trad climber
Feb 25, 2015 - 10:40pm PT
I just tried to go on The resole website with Brian's blog posts and it seems like its gone from the inter webs. I'm sad about that. Does anyone here have those trip reports and can you share them here?
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Feb 26, 2015 - 01:12am PT
Its on the Internet archive. Copy and paste the link below, in its entirety.

I can't make it clickable on ST, unfortunately.

https://web.archive.org/web/20130829080027/http://www.climbingresoles.com/FlyBrian/category/climbing-shoe-repair/
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Feb 26, 2015 - 01:27am PT
I was hopeful that it was some wierd siht but , , , , that weB stream seems gone at my second b ump

To those of you who know I have tried really hard to

Stop the retardzz gym slime that he was so sad at not able to stom Ache!

From asking for beta in public if they already know,

frog legs taste like chicken,when fryed!,

All that is to be done iz that vindicate the memory

Stop them at the gate trash will come, but stop them at the GATE!

Themzz that are not ever gonna be worthy need to feel me and I hate em big

It comes over me like a fever I show HERE, after a dream I keep seeing him and squeegee

A 9 yr. Old Blue and Gold macaw. whaaat???

A night mare that I have to bump here!


I see a work space that is crazy but fogged up dark shut down?

Something moves I wake the huckr up, he shows me,

burned out eyes, a hand of the rat scratching

His focus is dark black, shows toes, says rock rat a great one's shoes

then shows me a box he needs to work on the toes are fine the wear is on the sides,
Of the shoes,pair after pair shows this same wear patern!

He's gonna do em, but they are all exactly the same

Wear only on the sides
No
No skilled climber zz left is the message going forward he says not any thing
But it is Crystal to me he hates what is now was coming he saw it and that was as much as to much as some other loss??

Sorry this is the way I can relate it is a dark nightmare! I have!
The late
Great gone
Gone
Good man wanted to
But the crap choked him out

climbs wears out the sides like this, throws a pair at the darkness
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Feb 26, 2015 - 03:44pm PT
[Click to View YouTube Video]Hot effn tuna , Jorma & Jack
Come back baby
or
Serpant of dreams
[Click to View YouTube Video]
ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
Ogden, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 15, 2015 - 06:11pm PT

This link is a new thread I started for Brian's climbing accomplishments. Feel free to add to the many ascents and adventures that he did.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2594622&tn=0#msg2594622
Gary Fike

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV
Mar 18, 2015 - 11:57pm PT
ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
Ogden, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2015 - 10:29am PT

Hi Gary!!!

YES! I do remember that day, I really liked your dog, Mason.

I hope to catch up with you again soon, bro.

Cheers!!!
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Mar 30, 2015 - 12:04am PT
Another late night up packing and planning the next adventure, and dammit your not leading the way. I was asked today if somehow I have come to grips with the way that you left us here, and to be honest I am not angry or confused, I just miss our conversations the most. I am so stoked to see some of the "rockstars" enjoying your cave, and I know you would be flipping the f*#k out over it, yet somehow that makes me laugh and smile. You live on in so many and you had no idea the impact you left, I just hope that you found peace my friend. I am heading to Zion soon, nothing like sand in the eyes and a little raw knuckles to make you feel alive. We should have done more of that. Cheers you salty bastard and keep shining the way for the few of us who need it.

your friend
Kurt or Burt or KurtBurt or whatever the f*#k your name is today...
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
May 16, 2015 - 07:14pm PT
Bumpin for Brian, miss ya' buddy see you on the other side.

overwatch

climber
May 17, 2015 - 08:31am PT
Great posts from you guys that knew him. He seemed like my kind of guy, I wish I had met him. He begins the next evolutionary journey at a higher level than most.
kk1982

Trad climber
Aug 25, 2015 - 07:37pm PT
remembering the man, already gone a year now..
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Aug 25, 2015 - 10:15pm PT
*
KK1982...Do you know how Brian's Grandma is doing?.....I always think of her when i see this memorial thread..
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Aug 25, 2015 - 10:21pm PT
hey there say, nita...
i just heard the other night, from email, that she is doing good healthwise, i too, have thought of her much, since then... oh my...

so that part, as to her feelings, etc, i can't share too much, on, of course, since i am not family, etc,--but, i am sure our prayers and best wished, etc... will do her good...


:)
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Aug 26, 2015 - 04:56pm PT
hey there say, nita... oh yes... will surely do that!!! sending it tomorrow then!

great team work here... :)
Flo Rogers

climber
LasVegas
Sep 7, 2015 - 06:45pm PT
Hi everyone, take a moment to think of Brian tomorrow he would have been 47 on his birthday 9/8. On the anniversary of his death some of us went to a very special climbing location and scattered his ashes there.

It brings me comfort that his ashes have also gone to other cherished places including Yosemite, Bisbee, Seneca Rocks, El Protrero, Red Rock and Zion.

Grandma is doing OK, and Diesel is in great health.

neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Sep 7, 2015 - 07:39pm PT
hey there say, flo... great to hear that the gramma is well, and here's hopes for her to be surrounded with special things, tomorrow, on that hard
day...


in her corner...
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Sep 8, 2015 - 01:51pm PT
hey there say, ... bump, for flo's request...
MarkWestman

Trad climber
Talkeetna, Alaska
Oct 1, 2015 - 10:43pm PT
In May of 1999, Paul Roderick and I flew by Brian, Bridwell, and crew while they were in the middle of the wall section of the Bear Tooth's east face, on what became the route "The Useless Emotion".

I was making another pass through my slide collection and found this shot I got of them on the wall. Thought someone might like to see. One is the full frame, the other is a blowup from the same image.

Had a fun time hanging out with these guys in Talkeetna before their climb, it was quite a party!


Blow up of the above image:


the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Oct 3, 2015 - 06:16pm PT
Thanks for posting those pics Mark Westman. That sounds like an incredible and gnarly ascent. I remember Brian telling me that is was so cold that he would breathe on the cams to get them to open enough for placement. He questioned if the cams would actually "cam" (spring open) on a fall in those frozen conditions.

Here is what Jim Bridwell had to say about part of the climb:

"Bad weather kept us grounded for a day, but the next afternoon Fly’n Brian and I hauled supplies and set up a hanging tent at our high point. We melted snow and settled in for the night. In the morning, in bad weather, we climbed four more pitches and returned to the tent. Terry and Brian Jonas hauled more food and fuel, and I spent the night with Terry, who had never slept in a hanging tent. The weather was atrocious the following day, so Terry and I rappelled to save food and fuel. Late the next day, four of us hauled food, fuel and another hanging tent to spend the night when the weather turned to sh#t.

Avalanches of spindrift cascaded over the fragile tents though the black hours. In the morning I peeked out the zipper door to a winter wonderland. Real horror show stuff... an avalanche brought rapid door closure. I brushed the snow off me into the tent bottom and snuggled back in the bag to do the hang.

Around noon, Fly’n Brian could hang no more.

“I’m going up,” he declared with purpose in his voice. I spent the night in the tent with a crazy guy, I thought.

“Really,” I said. “Have you looked out?”

An hour later, he was on the ropes. I was impressed. I have never seen anyone climb technical rock in conditions this bad. I remember this being the most technical pitch to my previous high point. A pendulum to loose hooking…lots of it…with little protection, then looking for two rivets on the snow-plastered wall.… This ought to be good, I pondered..."


Read the whole story and see a crux pic here:
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200003700/The-Bears-Tooth
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Jan 8, 2016 - 02:11pm PT
Thinking about you today Brian.

Read story in link posted above to get details behind this pic.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Jan 8, 2016 - 03:14pm PT
Amazing
incredible
superior
From the link:

. . . . ( flyin' Brian, on the sharp end ) . . . Hooking must have been tough with everything hidden under snow. Then came a crashing rattle of hardware and excited language. Soon after, a repeat performance was heard through the hiss of avalanches. A while later, a great sigh of relief signaled Fly’n Brian’s success. When I quizzed him that evening, he confessed, “I wanted to see what it would be like.” The following day, it cleared. Terry and Brian Jonas would try to fix two more pitches while the rest of us went down to get enough supplies to finish the route. That same afternoon, we hauled to the hanging bivy as Brian Jonas finished the second lead. The next morning, Fly’n Brian and I ascended the ropes to our high point. I began leading the rock-chopping pitch, which required chopping holes in the rotten rock to place camming devices. Fly’n Brian used the wooden belay seat as a shield while I worked through crumbly rock. I was literally breaking new ground. He followed, grumbling about the lumps he had received while belaying.
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Jan 8, 2016 - 04:11pm PT
Thanks Albert! Yeah been thinking about the man a lot lately. He would be so stoked to see Chads setup with the resoling, to see how big my kids have gotten, and surprised at the way this page has evolved. He was a fundamental part of so many lives, some who he never thought he had an impact on. He is missed, still cant delete his name from my phone which is totally weird, but still makes me think he is just a call away. I got some of those Totem Cams and I wanted to call him and tell him what I thought about them, so I sighed and told him anyways. My neighbors must think I'm a whack job sitting out in the shed talking out loud about camming units. I laughed and laughed at what I thought his answers would be and then smiled thinking that he would have some snarky remark about a little bit of everything.

Kurt Burt
overwatch

climber
Jan 8, 2016 - 04:14pm PT
Damn that thing is big!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Feb 4, 2016 - 02:51am PT
hey there say... just a bump...

Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Feb 4, 2016 - 09:21pm PT
Bad night tonight Brian. Dave Mirra decided he had enough and smoked himself. Just reminds me of you. . I f*#king hate you tonight Brian. I just feel alone. These are the kinds of nights we would hang out and talk about the sh#t that makes us alone, the sh#t that bothers us, and then just smile that somehow we have a bond that so few have. I f*#king hate that you aren't here. I want to go find the limit again, but if feels so far away, almost untouchable without you here. I hear your voice still on my voicemail that I can't delete and tonight I yelled at it. I f*#king hate you for leaving me here to deal with this f*#ked up world. It's so lame that I write this on this page but somehow it feels like these is the only way to vent anymore. See you around homie.

Kurt Burt
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Feb 4, 2016 - 09:31pm PT
Burt, I thought of the hole Capt. McCray left when I heard about Mirra, too.

Peace be upon you.


and may all those so suffering find the strength to open up, to seek the perspective of another.
John M

climber
Feb 4, 2016 - 09:51pm PT
It's so lame that I write this on this page

It ain't lame. Its the real. Lame is when we fight on the internet about stupid sh#t. Sharing your hurt for the loss of a great friend is the gritty stuff that has meaning. Your hurt expresses that Brian meant something to someone. That someone is you. Thats no small thing.
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Feb 4, 2016 - 10:12pm PT
*
Burt, So sorry to see you are suffering tonight.. Loss is never easy , it can wash over you when you don't expect it...
You are not alone , we are here with you. Wishing you peace & Love.

Hold on..
[Click to View YouTube Video]
Thinking about Brian's Grandma also..

Saludos..
Nita.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Feb 4, 2016 - 10:16pm PT
Burt. Thank you for sharing here. Real emotions are what makes this place great. We are with you whether you know it or not.

Peace be with you brother.

neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Feb 4, 2016 - 10:19pm PT
hey there say, burt... say, remember this:

there is a reason that brian was in your life, in the first place...

hang on to this and see if you can put it to good use...

SOMEONE OUT THERE, needs the same help, right now, that he gave you...

(i remember the story of your accident, and hospital and recovery) ...


instead of letting the loss tear you down, every time you cry,
let it ADD JUST THAT MUCH bit of watered tears, to help you
grow just a tad, so you can then, GO out and do what he did for you,
for someone there, that just MIGHT not make it, if someone
does not show up, ... even as he SHOWED up,

in your life...

you can do... i just have a feeling, that YOU CAN...


break down, cry, and let some new buds GROW at the break...
do it again, as needed...

and... you will be a 'new tree of life' for someone...

and they will glad that your branches, come near them...

amen...









nita... keep the gramma in your prayers...
just an important side note, here...

we can send her a card, too... it would be a good time...
(older age, you know, can weary the body) ...
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Feb 4, 2016 - 10:28pm PT
+1 John M
toejahm

Trad climber
Chatsworth, CA
Feb 5, 2016 - 06:38am PT
Hi gang,
There is a book by Jenny Lawson you may be interested in reading. It's titled "Furiously Happy".

Peace,
Kenny
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Feb 5, 2016 - 07:26am PT
Hey Brian I'm headed down to Tucson for the weekend mineral show. Hard to believe it has been a decade since you first turned me on to the event. Remember how we would camp in the parking lot next to Jimmie Dunn and his family? Well you can't do that anymore. Wish we were going underground for a few days. Miss you and see you on the other side.

Kurt you have my number. Stay strong.

the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Apr 25, 2016 - 01:46pm PT
I came across this little write up on ST from Hans Florine after he and Brian made an attempt on the first one day ascent of the Wall of Early Morning Light. They encountered a quite a few sabotaged fixed anchors along the way particularly low on the route. I seem to remember Brian telling me that he had to beg Hans to let them take a drill just in case and if memory is correct all they took was a bit with no holder.

I believe Brian went back a short while later with Ammon to get the FOD of the route. A3/5.8


(Report by Hans Florine) posted August 27, 2004 to ST

We started at 6:29am on Tuesday.

The bolts on the first pitch have been chopped. I free soloed the pitch, not recommended unless you have Bacher or Schneider like prowess on thin granite. The bolts at the second anchor were hammered flat, we tried to pry one up but it broke the hanger.

The first bolt on the 3rd pitch was hammered down, albeit it looked old and beat anyway. The first fixed head in the crack on this pitch appeared to have been hammered on until on one very small dapple of wire was holding it there. Brian and I admit to being paranoid sometimes if warranted, but not in this case, we really think some one left this head there purposely f*#ked up dangling by one metal thread.- meaning it looked like someone hammered the wire until it was down to just the thread.

Although rivets do break occasionally it appeared as though they had been purposely chopped in a few places on the route. Brian and I placed six rivets on the route, but only because that is all we had and we were very imaginative in other spots and got by.

We replaced two rivets on the 3rd pitch bringing it back to doable.

On the 8th pitch going over to Mescalito I ran into rivets with the heads just sitting on their shafts as if someone had cut them off and just lightly glued or mashed the head back on to have it sit there. Here there was four or more rivets removed, I had to pendulum over to Mescalito and climb that pitch leapfrogging and back cleaning for 40 ft.

On the 12th pitch I encountered a place where three rivets in a row appeared to have been chopped. I could not get through it by adding one rivet, I had none. I climbed up Reticent to a belay and then pendulumed BARELY enough to lasso the next rivet in line.

At pitch 13 the route joins New Dawn to the top. From there up there was plenty of hard climbing but we did not encounter anything that seemed to be purposely whacked.

I dropped my helmet from the anchor at pitch 21, presumably all the way to the ground. My name is in it, please return it if found! ( love to send it back to Petzl if it's not in working shape.)

Brain led three times and I led three times, Brian led for about 15 hours and I for 12 hours. Kinda cool - I led 12 pitches and Brian led 15. - we kept to an hour a pitch. We topped out at 9:29:57 am. And stopped the clock where a "normal party" would have walked off.

Hans
trevorl

Trad climber
SLC
Jul 13, 2016 - 05:09pm PT
I knew Brian through some mutual friends having grown up close to his hometown. I did have the pleasure of hanging around a campfire in the mosquito cove outside zion each night with him and others for a week back in the early 2000s. His crew (possibly some of you all) was developing the Beehive crag behind the maintenance yard while my partner and I were seeking longer routes. We would regroup each night around the fire and Brian's humbleness (and the entire crew for that matter) struck me. At the time, I was relatively less experienced and that experience will always stay with me. A few days later he and Ammon went to free the Dunn route when Brian dislodged a fridge size block and dropped it on Ammon- another story in itself that perhaps Ammon can tell.

That same week we attended a slide show- part of which Brian put together and the picture that albatross posted above (also below) was in it- according to Brian this was the very 1st time he topped out El Cap, which I distinctly remember him saying was a turning point in his vision as a climber.

The last time I saw him was years later in Vegas. He took us to show us 3 new routes he recently developed, an 11 and two 12s. He then proceeded to float them in his approach shoes to set up a TR for us. Afterwards we went to a buffet somewhere and spent a few hours just talking about anything and everything but climbing. A genuine soul that is missed.
overwatch

climber
Arizona
Jul 13, 2016 - 05:45pm PT
awesome post from Neebee, I like new buds from the break, nice

That sh#t about the sabotaged route is friggin scary. What psychotic miscreant would do that although I could hazard a guess from rumored reputation
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Jul 13, 2016 - 09:32pm PT
Thanks for sharing those stories trevori. I'd guess that photo was from around '92-93, Brian would have been about 22-24 years old. In another ten years he would stand among the most accomplished big wall speed climbers that has touched El Cap and Zion (not to mention several hundred sport first ascents in the 5.12-.13 range). I'm not sure if anyone has completed a second ascent of any of his big wall firsts.

I feel so blessed to have done some incredible and wild adventures with the man. Most I can't yet talk about in public, but we kissed the sky and swallowed the darkness quite a few times in some truly wild places. Brian was one of the most powerful and insightful men I've ever known, unfortunately for us he saw the truth just a bit too clear at times. It is apparent from all these stories that Brian touched the lives of most that he met. He was one of kind, the material upon which we make our legends. Rest in peace buddy and see you on the other side.
aspendougy

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jul 14, 2016 - 10:35am PT
Dear OVERWATCH;

Shortly after Harding & Caldwell put up the route, Royal Robbins went up to chop the bolts. He did some chopping on the lower sections, then changed his mind, as the climbing was of higher quality than he had supposed Harding could do, and also, it was "tiring to chop all those God-Damn bolts" or words to that effect. I am not sure if the bolt carnage they encountered was left over from that time,
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Aug 23, 2016 - 09:26am PT
2 years ago today I got the news that I have always came to dread, but hope would never come. It started with a phone call and in that instant my life changed. I struggle daily without you here. The overwhelming thing we call life just seemed easier with a phone call or a visit and we would be safe again in our little world mocking and hiding from the world outside. I find myself scared to live anymore. Scared to try, I merely exist. I drown myself in work hoping to find that edge again. Well I could go on my friend but in the end I just miss you. I hope you have found your peace Brian, you are loved and miss greatly.

Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Aug 23, 2016 - 01:14pm PT
822FLY'N
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, A sailboat, or some time zone
Aug 23, 2016 - 01:55pm PT
Scared to try, I merely exist. I drown myself in work hoping to find that edge again.

The hardest thing. To live our own life and the responsibility to live the life of one not here.
You are the rare friend to treasure and hold near.
I hope peace and serenity finds you on THIS earth to make your way and never let us forget the specialness you and Brian shared. It's rare, in the purest form you shared life with him.
Most of us only think we have had a bond such as yours and Brian. You did.
Your eloquence should touch something in all of us. I know it shook me up about what is really grace, pain, love, loneliness, and finally blessed. A burden to carry on. But necessary.

Thank you

Susan
Levy

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Aug 23, 2016 - 02:33pm PT
It's hard to believe that it's been 2 years since Brian's passing. I am still kind of numb regarding this terrible news.

Burt, there's nothing lame about how your feelings can overwhelm you. It just shows you're human. I am glad you have chosen to express your grief and frustration here. It's a cathartic experience to give voice to those dark places. Be well brother and stay strong, Brian would want it that way.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 23, 2016 - 03:49pm PT
time f*#king flies by.
last time i saw him he was a pretty f*#king happy dude




[Click to View YouTube Video]
Flo Rogers

climber
LasVegas
Nov 27, 2016 - 08:45pm PT
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Nov 28, 2016 - 01:10am PT
Thanks for the sweet post, Flo. He was lucky to have had you to share the time you did. Here is Brian on Bad Seed in '98. Was thinking of him as we did Dark Side of the Moon in Zion on the 17th, in 17 hours. He would have been psyched for us!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Nov 28, 2016 - 02:23am PT
hey there say, flo... i really like this photo on the beach...
and your kind words, as to your dear friend...


thank you for sharing...
prayers, for you all, at these times of remembrance...
Chad Umbel

Trad climber
Blue Diamond, NV
Nov 28, 2016 - 04:48am PT
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Nov 28, 2016 - 12:39pm PT
Flo and Chad love the pics. So I've just kinda gave up on climbing after all of this. It just wasn't very much fun. So Chad calls me this holiday weekend and tells me to get off my ass and lets go do something. I am literally 50lbs overweight and so out of shape its lame. So I grab the kids and wife and tell them its time for an adventure. I literally have to dig out the climbing gear and the kids are stoked the wife a little worried. We leave the house at 4 am and drive 4 hours into the middle of no where, and hike and hike. Up cactus filled gullies, over boulder strewn washes, to marvel at what I took them to. A shitty little high desert tower. The wind blowing at a steady beat, a storm brewing on the horizon, and temps in the 30's. We reached the base of the mighty tower and the wind in the notch was blowing so hard we couldn't stand. I carried a piece of him in my pocket the whole way and when I got there my oldest son looked at me and smiled and asked if this is what Brian and I thought was fun. I chuckled and told him Brian would have called us stupid and this was waaayy too far of a walk for him. I let Brian go in the notch and watched him sail into the desert below. We walked out in the dark, one headlamp between us all. Through the busted up knees, scraped shins, cactus in places I didn't know existed we got back to the truck laughing and smiling. He kept us all company in our own ways and I got to find a piece of my life that has been missing for so long. The joy in adventure and unknown. Maybe its time to look at fear again, maybe its time to live a little.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Nov 28, 2016 - 12:45pm PT
Great post.
JohnnyG

climber
Nov 28, 2016 - 01:53pm PT
sweet post, Burt
Chad Umbel

Big Wall climber
Las Vegas
Nov 28, 2016 - 09:28pm PT
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Nov 29, 2016 - 05:53pm PT
Thanks for the new pics and stories! I sure miss that man.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Feb 1, 2017 - 12:29am PT
A bump, For Friends & For Fly'n
Looki'n' down month # 2
February 2017
Try to be happy
The adventures you shared
Will come back into focus, more
if you can return to the stillness
The stones, sunsets the dust.
The familiar that will be missing so much
Will still bring back memories; so comfort.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Feb 24, 2017 - 04:52pm PT
Whew, that's one hell of smile, right there
To clean livin'!
And To the brothers and sisters of the stone ~ gone but never forgotten.

W Braun
Adaptive = having a prosthetic I think
It could also refer to a person with limited function...

Not that I know anything about that
(/:^7
WBraun

climber
Feb 24, 2017 - 05:12pm PT
the first adaptive one day ascent


What is an adaptive one day ascent?
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Feb 24, 2017 - 06:06pm PT
Nice!















*V.V.V.V.V.V.V.V.*
Chad Umbel

Big Wall climber
Las Vegas
Feb 24, 2017 - 07:10pm PT
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Feb 25, 2017 - 01:38am PT
To answer your adaptive climber question Werner, in my case I contracted Paralytic Polio at nine months, deal with Post Polio Syndrome, wear braces on both legs and wrists, an AFO on my right foot and an ankle brace on the left. I mainly jumar on my ascents, but use climbing skills as well. Adaptive climbing is getting popular in many places in the world. What a wonderful thing this is!

I did my 20th El Cap ascent in '16, and 10 of those were in under a day, one was CTC in under 24 hours. The first of my IAD's was Bad Seed with Brian and Hans Florine, in Sept of '98. I am blessed to have so many really great friends. Brian still inspires me like he did when we climbed Bad Seed, he led those hard aid pitches like Bruce Lee.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Feb 25, 2017 - 02:56pm PT
I like that, do what you can with what you got.
An old friend had polio as a kid, had a bad leg with a brace and she became a skydiver.
Chippychopperone

Social climber
SLC, UT
Mar 15, 2017 - 09:21pm PT
Bump one of the best threads in supertopo
Chad Umbel

Big Wall climber
Las Vegas
Mar 16, 2017 - 06:51am PT
Burt

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Aug 23, 2018 - 07:48am PT
Missing you today my friend. That’s all I’ve got. Just f*#king miss you.
Kurtburt
valiant

Trad climber
california
Aug 23, 2018 - 08:52am PT
a thousand 5 minutes ago we were going to die in six minutes.

live for that one minute in between fate and the dream.

life is our sword and death is our prey.
the dirt garden knighted brian upon his un-birth
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
Aug 23, 2018 - 11:31am PT
Burt,

I hear you man...

I'll leave it at that.

Cheers man...

S....
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Aug 23, 2018 - 12:52pm PT
Bump for Brian! Remembering the good times and positive energy!!Me topping out on Bad Seed:

photo; Brian McCray
Conrad

climber
Aug 23, 2018 - 03:23pm PT

Remembrance

Respect
Chad Umbel

Big Wall climber
Las Vegas
Aug 23, 2018 - 10:53pm PT
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Apr 20, 2019 - 06:42pm PT
Bump for the memories of a good friend.

neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Apr 20, 2019 - 06:53pm PT
hey there, say... albatross... was just thinking about you the other day...

good to see a post, here, by you...

:)

hope all is well... :)
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