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Chicago Rock Climbing MeetUP Message Board › Which Chicago climbing gym should I choose?

Which Chicago climbing gym should I choose?

A former member
Post #: 1
Hi, since Loyola doesn't have a climbing wall on campus I'm looking for a membership to one of the climbing walls in Chicago. Which one should I choose?

I'm looking for a wall with both toprope and bouldering, maybe some leading if possible. I'd really like a very social wall as well, preferably with a good group of college students and 20-somethings :)

P.S. If you could let me know prices, that would be fantastic! I'm looking to climb around 3 times a week so day pass prices would probably be too expensive.
Roger H.
user 3748440
Boulder, CO
Post #: 26
Here is a great list of gyms that Mike put together:


I would suggest looking into Lakeview Athletic Club (LVAC) and/or Lincoln Park Athletic Club (LPAC). LVAC has both toprope and bouldering and there's a group of Depauw students that climb there regularly in addition to many other friendly climbers in their 20s/30s. In addition, it isn't too far from LPAC which has a tall outdoor wall that is great when the weather is nice. The gyms are affiliated so they share the same climbing community. They offer a 10-pass (aka Rockstar Pass) that comes out to $15/visit I think, but if you plan to be climbing 3x a week, it may be cheaper to become a member. They do offer student discount rates, which I hear is significant but I don't know what it is (I think LVAC is slightly more $$ than LPAC).

Hidden Peak is bouldering only, but also has a great atmosphere and community, and much cheaper so its worth checking them out as well.
A former member
Post #: 2
Great! Thanks for all this information!
Oakland, CA
Post #: 2
Hi Natalie,

I've been a member of LVAC for about two years now. I'm not an Chicago Athletic Clubs (CAC) employee. I'm just a huge fans of theirs. I've been to three of their gyms now, and each one is exceptional. is their website.

LVAC has a decent wall, and a bouldering area. The bouldering area is set to be remodeled this month, they are adding a roof and expanding the space a little. The wall at LPAC is great.

I think they say that LVAC is 50' and LPAC is 80'. You can lead on the wall. It's mostly vertical, not really overhung at all. There is an amazing community of people at CAC. I have made a lot of friends through climbing there, and rarely go to the gym now without running into someone that I've climbed with. Everyone is very welcoming, especially the employees. Keith, the director, is very passionate about maintaining and upgrading the facilities. He's added some nice things to LVAC: the "stair wall", expanding the cave, etc.

The other nice thing about LVAC is that you can walk in and climb any time that there is someone working at the wall. If you don't have anyone to climb with, you can just show up and one of the wonderful people that work there will belay you. Also, as was mentioned, you have access to the other clubs on Thursdays, which means you can climb outside at LPAC's wall (which is awesome), and at the Evanston location (small wall, and a bouldering area, I've never been there). The staff share shifts between locations. The one gripe that I have about CAC is that they actually charge a fee for belay certification. The fee is $25. Also, they require that you use a GriGri. Although they do provide them for free, they use incredibly stiff, almost static, ropes which requires some effort when belaying on top-rope.

Membership - $110/month, $65/month for students. I joined by taking over someone's contract under the student rate, once that contract expired, they set me up with a corporate rate for $75/month. The rest of the gym is a great facility. They offer a wide range of classes that are included in the membership. LVAC is the most expensive, and the "premier" gym. The facilities are slightly nicer than the others. I'd suggest joining LVAC of LPAC for climbing for the reason that if LPAC is closed due to rain, you would have to pay a small fee to use LVAC. If you are interested in joining, talk to Jessica at LVAC, she's great to work with.

If you want to check out the walls, you can pay for a day pass and go during their complimentary climb times. I think if you "like" their Facebook page, you get a free pass. Or, if you know someone at either gym, you can go with them as a free guest on Thursday nights. I climb at LPAC or LVAC on Thursdays, and am happy to bring anyone out that wants to check it out. The only catch is that you have to get certified to belay. I've done this before with friends, I belay them while they climb, and have the staff person belay me while I climb. It's not ideal, but works out ok when you're there for 2-3 hours. Feel free to message me with any questions you have, or if you are interested in climbing there on Thursdays.
A former member
Post #: 3
Wow! Thanks for that information! And as much as I would love to join one of those gyms I just looked at my finances and there is no way I can afford it right now. I'm hoping that I may be able to go to the bouldering gym, but a real wall membership is just out of the question for now :(
A former member
Post #: 1
Hi Natalie,

Yeah, I'm a social worker, so I understand about not being able to afford it. That's where I'm at, too. i do know of some rock bridges up on the north side by the lake that are climbable--dirty and probably not legal, but climbable, and FREE! when I used to live up there I would ride my bike there all the time. Now I'm in Wicker Park, which is closer to Hidden Peak--and I bought a 10 punch pass for like $50. I do plan to make it up north to use the bridges for traversing, just to regain some strength before I start hitting the gym again.

LVAC does have the $65 monthly thing for students and social workers, but I'm pretty sure they make you sign an annual contract. It's too bad they don't offer a climbing-only option, because their wall is pretty sweet! Also, gris gris are no fun, IMO. I'll stick with my ATC.

Jen :)
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