Shelly Sital has been a First Ascent member and fixture in the FA community since the beginning. She sent us this blog just after our two-year anniversary, and all we could say was “Aw, shucks – thanks Shelly!” We’ve heard so many stories like this one since we opened, and it’s stories like these that keep us working hard and loving what we do. Thank YOU, Shelly, for being a part of it. We love our community!

If ever there was a climbing gym that has fostered a sense of community and forged strong friendships, it is definitely First Ascent. I have visited a good number of climbing gyms around the U.S. and Canada and, I think my climber friends would agree, we have something special at First Ascent. So, this month, in honor of First Ascent’s two-year anniversary I wanted to share some brief thoughts on the community that has been built at FA and express my gratitude that I get to be a part of it!

Last month, several of members of First Ascent converged in a small town called Chester, Illinois, to watch the solar eclipse. We all arrived at different times the day before, but when we stepped out of our tents on that beautiful Monday morning, we had a good laugh because all of the women in the group had chosen the same First Ascent shirt to wear that day! (See photo taken by fellow FA member and shirt designer, Valentine Chen) What’s that saying about great minds?! We are a community beyond the walls of First Ascent. This community fosters a full-on mind and body experience. Together we encourage one another to see more and do more. We push ourselves further and find joy in a variety of experiences. We may not have climbed on this recent excursion to watch eclipse totality, but climbing is what brought us together from different walks of life and parts of the city.

When I first joined First Ascent in August of 2015, I had no idea that I would be making friends that I would go to Red River Gorge with, learn how to ice climb with, take lead classes with, eat pho and fried chicken with, and go on so many other adventures with over the past two years. The sense of community that has been fostered at this gym – built by climbers for climbers – is amazing, and I cannot express enough gratitude to the owners and staff who have kept this mission alive over the past 2 years, and most importantly, to my climbing buddies who show up every day (except while they’re off in Korea or some other exotic destination, of course). You see, with a strong community, comes stronger climbers. We keep on each other to push ourselves to be the best we can be, and to be safe while doing it. We cheer each other on. We get competitive when FA hosts endurance challenges. We give each other tips on beta, hugs, and laughs. What better way to get a workout in without a moment of boredom?!

P.S. A disclaimer: I promise I was not paid by First Ascent to write this. I just love this place!