First Ascent is convenient in many ways: it is right off the Addison highway exit, has a parking lot and sells a good array of merch including shoes, harness and various snacks and drinks. It is well staffed with safety conscious people who know about climbing.
The facilities are top notch. Top rope and lead walls reach about 60 feet and are textured. While this is great for smearing, I noticed that I did quite a bit of scuffing to the toes of my new shoes. Bouldering area upstairs has several top out sections and a very difficult cave.
The rating system is a bit of a conundrum for me. While I feel that 5.8 and 5.9 is more difficult at First Ascent than at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago, once you get into 5.10 - 5.11, First Ascent seems to scale on the soft side. Why is that? Over the weekend, I completed a 5.10 D and got about 4/5ths up a 5.11 C at First Ascent. Normally, I am happy with 5.10 A and 5.10 B.
But... maybe I'm just getting better. Today, at BKB, I completed a 5.10 C. While, I did not finish it cleanly, I felt accomplished that I was able to get through some tough parts after many tries and many falls. It's the only way to get better.
Bouldering at First Ascent kicks my ass. I can barely finish V1-V2, while at BKB, I am generally in the V3-V4 range. Just have to work harder to move up.
All in all, I really enjoy First Ascent. I do not plan on becoming a member, but I will be buying some passes. Having BKB across the street is entirely too convenient to pass up.