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Brooklyn Boulders Chicago
Don't look down.

Once you’ve committed to a two-hour indoor rock-climbing class, there’s never a good time to tell your instructor about your fear of heights.

But as we began to get the, um, hang of things at a “Learn the Ropes” course ($79) at West Loop’s Brooklyn Boulders Chicago, our acrophobia was soon forgotten.

So how did we suddenly get brave enough to dangle from a wall? For one thing, we were awed by the energetic vibe of the massive, 25,000-square-foot facility. It’s full of colorful murals by local artists, pumping music and climbing walls ranging from 12 to 50 feet tall. And there’s even a collaborative workspace with standing desks upstairs.

(Want to climb on your own? All first-timers at BKB Chicago must take a 15-minute intro and safety class, and after that you can buy day passes for $25.)

Then there was our instructor, Branden, who immediately put us at ease with his balance of gee-whiz enthusiasm and professional gravity. He taught us to fit a harness, tie knots and manage ropes--all while assuring us we really wouldn't plummet to our death.

All that clambering around made for an intense workout. And our confidence level? Never higher.

Brooklyn Boulders Chicago, 100 S. Morgan St.; 312-268-0002 or

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