Brian McCray


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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.

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

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
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.

photo not found
Missing photo ID#374900

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.


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
to the wind.

poem written by Scott Baxter

STFU n00b!!!
Aug 27, 2014 - 01:30pm PT

My sincerest condolences to all family and friends of Brian McCray...


Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
Aug 27, 2014 - 01:38pm PT

A fantastic tribute by Chris Van Leuven to Brian.

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

Gym climber
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.

Credit: the albatross

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."


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

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....

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.
Jebus H Bomz

Peavine Basecamp
Aug 27, 2014 - 09:20pm PT
It looks like he lived the life. I can't imagine the hole left when somebody opts out, and I hope the survivors to him can band together and help each other through this. RIP.

Big Wall climber
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

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.

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
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
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.

The Master Cobbler at work.
The Master Cobbler at work.
Credit: the albatross


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.

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

photo not found
Missing photo ID#374963

Man those were some miserable-fun times of suffering.
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