Make Aliyah this Winter – Rock Climbing in Chicago

chitribe climbing chicago

*Aliyah is the hebrew word for “ascent” or “to go up”, commonly used to refer to the honor of being called upon go up to the Bima (alter) or to read from the Torah.

By Jake Dermer

Recently Chicago has seen a major influx in places to go up, this winter check out one of the many promised gyms the City. It may not be as holy as the land Israel, but they’ll help you get a grip on Chicago winters.

First Ascent

chitribe climbing chicago


Avondale, Humboldt, Block 37, Uptown

This author is partial to First Ascent, the Chicago based company has four locations in the city and is building more in the suburbs. The Avondale location is best for beginners who want to try out classic top rope climbing, but the other locations sport the premier bouldering in the city.

The Block 37 location is a hot bed of Jewish athleticism, you cannot go there without running into tribe members. They have community events, competitions, and more. First Ascent is the best place to make Aliyah in Chicago. 


Brooklyn Boulders

chitribe climbing chicago


West Loop

Brooklyn Boulders is a great facility; it has tall top roping, lead climbing, and bouldering. They also sport a decent fitness area, and have fun community events, which is nice because the membership price is a little higher than the other gyms mentioned

This is the perfect gym for anyone who works or lives in the West Loop.


Chicago Bouldering Collective

chitribe climbing chicago


West Lakeview-ish

Think of it as the underground bouldering scene of Chicago, operated by a small community of strong climbers. It is the most affordable membership of the bunch and likely the least crowded, depending on the time of day. 

Just bouldering, no frills.


Chicago Athletic Clubs

chitribe climbing chicago

@ChicagoAthletic Clubs

The Chicago Athletic club have three locations with rock climbing facilities but in winter, only Lakeview and Evanston have climbing. This facility has bouldering and top roping but not on the same level as dedicated climbing gyms. However your membership comes with a state of the art gym, towel service, and a real locker room.

If you are more into lifting weights and just want to climb on occasion this is the place for you.


BONUS Summer Spot: Maggie Daley Park 

chitribe climbing chicago


Maggie Daley Park recently opened a climbing wall last year and it’s cool scene. It’s outside, and you can climb while looking up at sky scrappers, which is a strange sensation.

Drawbacks: expensive, touristy, not convenient for most people


Climbing Vocab 101:

Top Rope: What you think of when you think of rock climbing. 40-60ft walls with someone belaying you from the bottom

Bouldering: Climbing without a rope only 15ft off the ground

Lead Climbing: Advanced climbing on ropes not for beginners

Aliyah: Not a climbing term. 


jake dermer chitribe

Jake Dermer is a personal trainer and corporate wellness consultant in the Chicago land area. As well as an avid rock climber and gym goer, for more information take a look at his website –