The North Face Chicago has been putting on some great events lately, but they’ve not fit my schedule. A meet and greet with Josh Levin, then climbing and an optional screening of Reel Rock 11 did, though, so I was excited to finally be able to participate. Josh Levin is a climber, a student, and an American Ninja Warrior (ANW). We’re big fans of ANW at our house, so it was pretty amazing to think we’d be meeting one of the people who had not only participated, but done really well to boot. No, Josh didn’t make it to the top and win a million dollars, but he made it to the Finals, which is an amazing feat in itself.
My son, his friend, and I headed into Chicago to meet Josh at the TNF store before heading to the climbing gym. TNF put out a spread of food and then we all just hung out, chatting. I’ll say I would have preferred a bit more structure to the event, maybe an intro, some words from Josh, and then maybe snacks and chat. As it was, I kind of wandered the store, met people, chatted, wandered some more, and then it was time to head out.
The climbing took place at First Ascent (Avondale), a new gym on the city’s Northwest side. It’s not far off an expressway and has its own dedicated parking, so that was a nice surprise. After getting gear and an introductory tour by the staff, we were cut loose to have some fun. I took some photos, dd a little climbing, and hung out mostly with my son and his friend in the bouldering area.
Josh seemed to really connect with them, which was great. because I could stalk him without being overly obvious about it. It was great to watch him climb – like so many pro athletes, he has a smoothness and grace that rank amateurs don’t. He climbed unhurriedly and with purpose, looking ahead a move or two as he went. We spent some good time with him in a bouldering cave – it had routes that ranged from easy to ridiculously hard, so it was a good place for all of us to hang out.
We didn’t stay for Reel Rock, but instead said our goodbyes and headed home. When you don’t climb very often, grip strength fails pretty quickly. It was a lot of fun meeting Josh and climbing a bit with him. Looking forward to getting more of these The North Face events on my schedule.