Jon Shepard is a co-founder of First Ascent Climbing & Fitness and is currently transitioning from his role as an intellectual property attorney to full time work at First Ascent. We sat down with Jon to ask him a few questions about FA Humboldt Park, and here’s what he had to say.

What are you most excited for about First Ascent Humboldt Park?  

I’m most excited about the way the gym feels when you walk in.It’s vibrant!  Everything from from the colors of the walls and the holds, the aesthetic lines, the natural light, and the dramatic wall angles and variety of climbing terrain.The whole visual experience is stunning, and I hope it energizes the Chicago climbing community and inspires new climbers as well.

What makes the Humboldt Park facility different from the other FA facilities?  

It’s First Ascent’s best bouldering experience yet!  Don’t get me wrong, I love the natural light and the nooks and crannies to explore at Uptown.  And Avondale will probably always be my “home” gym.  But I think the design of Humboldt is our best to-date.  When I’m there I feel psyched to explore and climb!

Why build a climbing gym in Humboldt Park?  

Humboldt Park has great culture, diversity, and boasts some of Chicago’s finest outdoor spaces. To us, the neighborhood simply felt “right” for a climbing gym.  The locals appreciate their community (just watch the BBQ happening in the Park on a Summer day!).  Climbing gyms also foster strong community, and so we thought a climbing gym would fit naturally within the vibrant neighborhood, while offering a fresh space for residents to make friends, foster community,  and experience one of the best social and fitness activities out there (in my humble opinion!).

When will FA Humboldt Park open?

Our Grand Opening Party is officially set for September 30th! We’ll have a full day of fun for climbers of all ages and ability levels throughout the day. If you’d like to climb sooner than that, we will open for limited, members-only climbing sessions staring in mid-September, but you have to be a member to get pre-opening access. If you’re not a member yet, check out the Pre-Opening Membership we’re offering – you get a free month when you pay your $50 enrollment fee!

Why did the Humboldt Park location take longer to open than expected?  

Anytime we need to retro-fit an existing building into a climbing gym we are bound to run into obstacles, and this time was no different.We had to replace and reinforce portions of the concrete slab to support climbing walls, and we needed to replace old plumbing and building infrastructure to bring it up to code for a fitness facility. That works take time, but it means the facility is set up to run smoothly from Day 1.  

Anything else you want us to know?

We can’t wait to bring world-class climbing terrain, fantastic yoga and fitness classes, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, and fun community-building events to the Humboldt Park neighborhood. I hope to see you at FA Humboldt Park soon!

To stay up to date on all things FA Humboldt Park, make sure to like the FA Humboldt Park Facebook page and sign up for our email list.