DeSoto natives open new St. Louis climbing facility

Brothers David and Daniel Chancellor are literally rock stars.

Climb So iLL, a fully renovated St. Louis power plant turned indoor rock-climbing facility, celebrated its grand opening Friday night. The Chancellor brothers, raised in DeSoto, have seen nine years of work and a $22 million renovation process propel them from humble beginnings in southern Illinois to the grand stage of the rock-climbing industry.

David Chancellor, right, hugs a guest at the Climb So iLL gym opening Friday in St. Louis. David Chancellor and Daniel Chancellor, who started making climbing holds in their parents' basement in DeSoto nine years ago, created the gym to give back to the community that had supported them for so long, David Chancellor said. The gym opened its doors Saturday and offers memberships, classes, parties and fundraising. Lynnette Oostmeyer | Daily Egyptian

“My brother Daniel and I founded So iLL Holds in our parents’ basement,” David Chancellor said. “From there, the two of us shaped, manufactured and distributed climbing holds throughout the country.”

Daniel and David Chancellor said it has been the dream for their company, So iLL Holds, to open a climbing gym ever since it’s days in the basement. The Chancellor brothers, along with business partner and childhood friend Ian Anderson, have now made their dreams reality, as the gym officially opened for business Saturday.

The Chancellor brothers molded their holds after the sandstone cliffs and boulders of southern Illinois. Since their start nearly a decade ago, So iLL Holds has developed a grassroots following of climbers in the United States, and has since expanded it’s product overseas for climbers to enjoy world wide.

With the trio’s background in construction, architecture and finance, the culmination of two years’ work now has visitors looking in awe at the cavernous curving ceilings of a unique series of climbing walls.

SIU Climbing Club member Dave Hug, a senior from Waterloo studying forest recreation, went to Climb So iLL’s grand opening and stuck around until the next day to try out the facilities. Hug said the crowded grand opening didn’t exactly mirror Saturday’s first official day to test out the walls.

“A lot of people came out to climb Saturday, but the place is huge, and everyone was able to spread out and climb all of the different sections pretty comfortably,” Hug said. “I’ve known the Chancellors for three or four years, and the gym was everything I could have hoped for.”

As they weaved their way through a maze of guests at Friday’s opening, the brothers enthusiastically greeted guests, family and friends in what was truly a big night for all that were involved.

The gym’s motto, “Grounded in experience. Dedicated to the community,” is seen through Climb So iLL’s dedication to its southern Illinois roots, as well as its dedication to the rock-climbing community as a whole.

“Good design encourages exploration,” David Chancellor said. “We’re proud to say that our final product reflects this principle.”


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Caleb Motsinger can be reached at or 536-3311 ext. 269.

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