Climbing in San Francisco back in the day

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Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 29, 2010 - 04:28pm PT
So there used to be a playground at the top of 15th street at Beaver street, in SF. This is just below Corona Heights and the Randall Museum and in the Upper Market St neighborhoods. One side of the playground was a small red cliff with amazing glassy shear planes to it as well as some cracks and also frankly, mud. It terminated at a fence built at its very edge for safety. Above were grassy slopes and the small city park, Corona Heights. It was actually on the Sierra Club’s Rock Climbing Section list as an occasional stop-off. The idea was to practice aid in the short 50 foot mudfilled right leaning crack. One could also toprope it as access from above was trivial. I am guessing it was a minor local quarry probably hastily used after the great earthquake but I don’t know. We were both already REI members by the way!

I remember going there a few times with my then-climbing partner, Vern Muhr in 1964. We would also go to Miraloma, a spot further up Market and slightly down O’Shaunessy. One could do some steep freeclimbing there on similar rock. Both of these climbing spots are no longer functioning and the first, vintage slide below has never been shown before.

Here is the 15th street cliff from 1964 with Vern on lead, next and image from Google Earth today showing how it has been developed to a point where climbing is no longer feasible or permissible. You can see some great old equipment in this photo of course as well as the makings for some serious rope-drag!! Those are Army Surplus aluminum carabiners, the hammer was an Estwing Rockpick. I am thinking the hardhat was a Bell. Our shoes were Pivetta Spiders (or maybe at that point still Cortinas, but they look more like spiders which didn't have a distinct heel).


Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 04:34pm PT
I'm pretty sure people still climb there. People call it the "Beaver Street Wall".
It's in several Bay area climbing guidebooks, and in the new "California Road Trip" climbing guidebook.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 29, 2010 - 04:41pm PT
Great Clint! I didn't know. I actually live nearby for christ's sake. I must go check it out. That explains the grass border maybe too. It would be kind of fun limited bouldering. It is really unique with the mirror-polished surfaces. It would be bouldering.
Srbphoto

climber
Kennewick wa
Oct 29, 2010 - 05:18pm PT
Peter - if you want to boulder go to Glen Park. Same rock and some fun stuff. A lot more bouldering and a couple of short, fun topropes.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 29, 2010 - 05:26pm PT
Srb, I remember it was a lot more interesting. Is it still accessible? They built that school for the arts there etc.
Srbphoto

climber
Kennewick wa
Oct 29, 2010 - 05:57pm PT
I haven't been in about 6 years or more but I thought the school for the arts was built in the old Macateer High school above the park.
delendaest

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 06:03pm PT
Its definitely still open for climbing!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Oct 29, 2010 - 06:04pm PT
Glen Canyon Park is open. I bouldered there in the early nineties once, admittedly it's been awhile. But some of the problems looked stout!

I gotta believe the pad people have contemporarized it.

Go take pics and report back!!!

Great pics of Beaver St wall bitd. Never have been, though often wanted to. Also wanted to aid that cross on top of that peak in the city.

murcy

climber
sanfrancisco
Oct 29, 2010 - 06:06pm PT
Yeah, Beaver St. Wall is still just the same, except it's climbed often enough that there's not so much mud. Weird, mirror-like sheet of chert. The crack has been opened up a bit and goes at 5.9 or 5.10a. Some face variations to the right go a bit harder.

I live right by Glen Canyon Park. Enter down on Elk St., or find the stairs between houses on Turquoise Way: (street-view picture).

The Mount Davidson cross had its bolts chopped, so you'll have to free it.
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 06:07pm PT
Peter,
I remember climbing at all those areas when I first moved to the SF area in 1981. They were all described in the Marc Jensen guidebook. I remember that wall as being pretty glassy! Glen Park was my favorite of the SF City areas - more of the "wilderness" experience than the streetside stuff.
Phyl
throwpie

Trad climber
Berkeley
Oct 29, 2010 - 06:15pm PT
Yeah! We used to go there in the seventies...haven't been there since. There was a light at Beaver and Castro that said..Beaver Street/Stop when flashing.

Also the thin seam on the seawall at Ocean Beach right where the ramps go down. Never could get all the way up that sucker. Or third classing the rock wall below the Cliff house. Never did the fake rock wall above the great highway, below Sutro park but always wanted to try.
throwpie

Trad climber
Berkeley
Oct 29, 2010 - 06:17pm PT
The cross on Mt Davidson is where my good friend Randy Hamm met his end.
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Oct 29, 2010 - 06:41pm PT
Also the thin seam on the seawall at Ocean Beach right where the ramps go down

Now it sports big pin scars and goes at 5.10a.

The fake seawall on the north side of OB has routes up to 5.8 (through the steep bulge)

Beaver street has an old aid ladder to the right of the main crack. Somebody put FAT bolts on it after attempting to pull the bomber rivets.

The main crack goes clean and free now, and if you aid it to the chains is pretty serious, provided you brought a hanger and nut for the stud....

16th and noriega sports a few good climbs, Toilet Mind (big LFC system) 5.11a.

The slab on oshaugnessey has 3 good friction/face routes (cool setting)

2nd and howard- 20 foot granite boulder, tons of problems, best to be stealth.....

Srbphoto

climber
Kennewick wa
Oct 29, 2010 - 07:27pm PT
The sea wall used to be 10c. there are acouple of face problems to the right of it. one involves drilled finger holes. someone (late 80's) had glued some rocks on it. The rating does depend on how high the sand has built up at the base.

further south on the Great Highway they built another concrete boardwalk and someone had glued a bunch of holds near the ramp on the south end.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Oct 29, 2010 - 07:47pm PT
hey there say, peter.... thanks for the neat info... and all the stories that are being shared, from this...

as always---old time stuff is so very interesting...

:)
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Oct 29, 2010 - 07:51pm PT
Yeah those face problems to the right are HARD.

The traverst to the left of the crack is mid 10.

Cool hand holds in that area.

guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Oct 29, 2010 - 10:17pm PT
Great stuff Peter-I remember some trips to Miraloma with Roper and on occasion Galen, but for the life of me I have no idea where it is located.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 29, 2010 - 10:29pm PT
Guido, get on market street going uphill towards Twin Peaks and westward. Follow it all the way up to its top (where it levels off) and Burnett cross-street and then still more westward as it is then called Portola. At the traffic light at O'shaughnessy and Market (near Molly Stone's grocery) , turn left, passing the school on the left. That whole little valley on the left has the rock in it, in a couple of spots.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 10:54pm PT
Awesome. Some of my best early climbing days were at Beaver Street. The rock is wild. We tried all the close spots, woodside rock, handley,the 92 glue up, but Beaver Street was the best for the after school climbing.

They tried to close it one time in the nineties, but we stole the signs. Another local, who's still around working at the Toronado I think, looked up the code they closed the wall with and said that it was a park code about being in a park at dark. So- game on.

I don't know the O'Shaunessy stuff- what's up with that?
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 10:58pm PT
ooops peter. I got the o'shuanessy stuff now. I'll go look.

The thing is, while I have fond memories of the Bay Area, I can never go back there to live. It's too hard to do the things I like to do.

If I did go back, I'd take up surfing.

Beaver street is good climbing. The crack and the variations is good, and the stuff to the right is really good, but hard.
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