Knew Ray back in the day when he lived out of an ancient, classic, 50s truck with camper, around J-Tree and the Valley. Eccentric, colorful, creative, very bright, great company round those endless winter camp fires. And not afraid of anything or anyone. Later, he lived and worked in Boulder for a while too, ran into him from time to time. He worked at Neptunes for a while, also tried writing fiction stories, no idea what if anything came of them. Recall he wrote some pretty wild, raw stuff, always creative, always original.
Two memories stand out: In the Valley, Bacher Cracker. I watched him nonchalantly campus though this, one-finger-jam pull-up after one-finger-jam pull up. He was so strong!
And a letter he wrote to one of the mags, ranting in fine style about too much reporting on the same old "big men with big egos doing big climbs on big cliffs!"
Last I heard, he was in California again and into riding Harleys, or maybe big bore cruiser bikes.
Something about wheelies on those big bikes getting the better of him, ha!
Ray Olson, hanging out in Marshall Colorado, early 90s:
Ray had a very technical mind. I often thought he should have been an industrial designer, but alas, like many of us, he was all about climbing and the attendant counterculture. This isn't so bad, as these were his first and last loves in life.
Nevertheless, when you caught him in that mood, he could be really fun to talk to about design, aesthetics, and creative solutions for all sorts of things. In those conversations it was fun to see that when he was focused, his attention was very ordered and productive.
He could be all about how things work and that was when he was at his best. Ray could be troubled and troubling at times, but we also had ourselves lots of laughs when the good stuff got lined up in the crosshairs!
"The Frog" was an itinerant member of the 80s Joshua Tree scene and present for many of the antics and good times. He was a part of us all, and one of the many rich characters which made our outsider's dream such a kick in the pants!!!
Last time I ran into Ray Olsen was in Boulder in 1996 when I was on contract there at Carrier Access Corporation. Walked into Neptune's on Saturday afternoon and was surprised to see Ray standing there big as life behind the front desk. I'd known in him C4 years earlier of course. And remember Yerian teasing him all the time. This comes as quite a surprise and shock even. I had one of his Frog Packs and a Frog harness is still sitting out in my old 69 Ford van out front of the house here in Belmont.
Been gone since 2012 evidently, but bon voyage Ray!
I enjoyed reading about Ray. Seems like someone I would have buddied up with. I've always been jealous of the guys who can build and create tangible things. Anyways despite being around climbing in the American West for 20 years I've never heard of him. Glad I have now. Thanks y'all. First time popping over to the Super Taco in many, many years. peace, Luke