Dear FAmily, 

We hope this message finds you, your family, and loved ones well! 

We have heard from so many of you who are eager to get back to First Ascent, and we love and share your enthusiasm. The First Ascent leadership team is working tirelessly on a reopening plan for the safety and health of our community.  We’ve been on countless conference calls with other climbing and fitness industry leaders, we’ve studied health expert guidance closely, and we’re watching states and businesses that have already reopened to learn how to implement best practices as they evolve.

Throughout all of these efforts, we’re reminded that climbers have a unique appreciation for risk. In climbing, as in life, we cannot completely eliminate risk. So we evaluate the risks as individuals and as a group.  We manage risks with PPE like harnesses, ropes, and bouldering pads.  We educate ourselves on proper belay technique and falling best practices so we’re prepared to manage risks as effectively as possible.  And then we make decisions about what we do and don’t do based on our own risk tolerance and the effects those choices have on those around us. 

That process – evaluating risks, learning and implementing risk management techniques, and deciding which risks are acceptable and which are not – is exactly what we must do now as a society to emerge from stay at home orders and return to our lives healthy and prepared. 

Reopening our gyms presents its own risk-reward trade offs. We’ve heard from many of you that climbing, yoga, and fitness are a cornerstone of your physical and mental health. At the same time, completely eliminating the risk of COVID-19 transmission is not possible, even with a vaccine or other medical breakthrough. So as we plan for reopening, our goal is to reduce the risk of transmission at the gyms as much as possible while empowering our members to pursue the mental, physical, and social benefits they enjoy at First Ascent gyms.

We recognize the complexity of the situation, and we know there will be differing perspectives on when and how businesses – including our gyms – should open their doors. We also understand that things will be different than we’re used to for a while, and that those differences might feel strange. And we respect that some of you might deem the risks too great to return to First Ascent anytime soon – we will continue serving you with virtual First Ascent Anywhere classes and content that keeps you active and connected from a distance.

Whether you plan to return to climbing ASAP, or you need more time to feel comfortable getting back on the wall, we want to hear from you. Over the past few weeks, we have assembled a robust reopening plan for First Ascent gyms. Our reopening plan focuses on three main areas: (1) Enhanced Sanitation & Cleaning Procedures,  (2) Scheduled Visitation & Monitoring, and (3) Space, Equipment, and Climbing Wall Usage Management.  

Many aspects of our plan affect you as an FA community member, so as we work to finalize it, we want to hear your feedback. Please click below to take a short Welcome Back survey to provide some feedback on key aspects of our reopening plan.

Take The Welcome Back Survey

We know many of you are wondering “When will you reopen?” The reopening plans from the State of Illinois and City of Chicago suggest that mid to late June may be possible, but the exact timeline is not yet clear. Rest assured that we will keep you updated as the timeline comes into clearer view.

In the meantime, any memberships on freeze will remain frozen until we reopen, at which time will we follow up with you to provide instructions for how to reactivate your membership. If you stayed active and you’d like to make a change to your membership, click here.

We are so thankful for all of the support we’ve received from our community during this challenging time. Ultimately, our commitment to our community is simple: to serve you with sanitized hands and open hearts, to do everything in our power to protect and promote your health and wellness, to communicate with you clearly so you know what you can expect and what you can do to help, and to listen to you along the way.  We can lead the way forward – together.

We look forward to getting your feedback on this survey, and most of all, we look forward to welcoming you back to First Ascent soon.


Dan, Joe, Jon, & Dave | the First Ascent founders   


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