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The Maggie Daley Park Climbing Wall Is Open, But It's Not Cheap

By Jim Bochnowski in News on May 13, 2015 4:10PM

Photo via Jim Bochnowski

The new rock climbing walls at Maggie Daley Park opened up to the public yesterday. I walked over to check it out during my lunch break, with the full intention of doing some mid-day rock climbing.

Photo via Jim Bochnowski

The climbing complex is undoubtedly impressive. At its highest point, the wall reaches 40 feet and encompasses about 19,000 feet of prime real estate settled directly east of the Millennium Park bandshell, giving what I'm sure are impressive views from the top of the wall. There are handful of clearly-marked courses ranging in difficulty.

There are several different styles of rock climbing available, including bouldering (climbing without a rope) and top-rope climbing (climbing with a rope attached to the top of the wall). In top-rope climbing, climbers can choose to climb via belaying (climbing with another person who prevents your fall by applying friction to a rope) and auto-belaying (the same, but with a machine instead of a partner).

Photo via Jim Bochnowski

While walking over, I decided that I wanted to do "top rope"-style climbing. It seemed like the most straight forward version and being a first-timer, maybe the easiest. Or at least that's what I told myself. But I discovered that for a novice rock climber such as myself, this would be an expensive, time intensive proposition. Not just a fun lunch break activity. "Certified" climbers can rent daily unlimited wall space for $7, a monthly pass for $35 or a season pass for $299. But for beginner climbers, getting the certification to climb at Maggie Daley Park will cost $29 for a 45 minute lesson.

Photo via Jim Bochnowski

Unfortunately, you need to become "certified" to actually climb. According to the park's website, there are "climbing tests" that experienced climbers can take to bypass this step. And of course, you need proper equipment, like climbing shoes and a helmet, which are readily available for an additional $15 at the park.

Climbers are also forbidden from bringing their phones with them, which means climbing wall selfies are out. But those who want to document their experience can purchase $10 photos of their climbs through the park district.

So I walked away without climbing and settled for a sandwich instead. But I'll be back for you, Maggie Daley climbing wall, just maybe not when I'm on my lunch break.

Photo via Jim Bochnowski