Glen Canyon Mostly Bouldering47 routes in crag
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Despite getting panned in a lot of local guidebooks, 'Glen Canyon' is actually a great bouldering area for its size, particularly if you're willing to go beyond the obvious lines and holds, and start making up eliminates and variations (in which case you'll find that the main cliff band is an excellent training area, particularly for pinch and crimp strength).
The rock is unique and cool to climb on - radiolarian chert (ultra hard, cleanly layered sedimentary rock) that has been uplifted and deformed by California's famous tectonic activity. The rock fractures into very blocky square cut holds, creating the ubiquitous "incut jug slot". While the rock is generally solid, there are a few patches that have been deformed to the point of becoming choss, and holds can and do rip off in these sections.
Another unique feature are the ultra-polished sections (slickensides) - these are the surfaces of micro-faults that have been polished by millennia of sliding past each other.
For all access issues, please contact the Bay Area Climbers Coalition.
Glen Canyon is SF Rec & Park land, and climbing is discussed in section 6.3 of the Natural Resources Management Plan - specifically, climbing is banned on the outcrop known as 'Dead Cat Rocks', is designated at the 'Main Cliff Band' and 'The Unnatural Act Cave', but is ambiguous at other outcrops in the park.
Many options, but the most straight forward for new visitors is to walk up through the canyon from the rec center end of the park (Elk St at Chenery - you'll walk up Chenery if coming from BART). Follow the gravel road north alongside Islais Creek or take one of the trails up the hillside to the right to get to the 'Hillside Boulders', 'Black Overhang' and 'Choss Buttress'.
The first boulders you'll see are the 'Hillside Boulders' up high on the right. Next are the 'Black Overhang' and 'Choss Buttress', also up to the right. Passing the preschool on the left you'll reach the "kung fu bridge" over the swamp. Legend has it that a famous Bruce Lee scene was filmed here, hence the name. After emerging from the willows, you'll see the 'Main Cliff Band' straight ahead up the hill; the 'Upper Cliff Band' is partially obscured, directly behind the 'Main Cliff Band'.
Please don't cut straight up the hill to the 'Main Cliff Band' - SF Rec & Park has spent a lot of time in recent years track building and stabilising the hillside, and the stairs leading up to the right double back straight to the crag, making shortcutting unnecessary.
'Dead Cat Rocks' is visible from the top of the 'Main Cliff Band', further up the creek and on the opposite side. Climbing is prohibited here - please stay away to preserve good relations with SF Rec & Park. This outcrop is also overrun with poison oak, so pleasant climbing opportunities are very limited.
There are no bolts of any kind, anywhere, nor do there need to be any. If you need a top rope, bring a rack and slings (there's great gear for most of the problems).
Stick to made tracks as much as possible.
Bring a plastic bag and spend 15 mins at the end of your session picking up the trash that non-climbers throw off the top - that helps keep the place open to climbing.
The Sierra Club is known to have climbed here since the 1930s, and many famous climbers have paid their respects (Warren Harding), or made it their go-to Bay Area training ground (Chuck Clance, Mark Nicholas).
Check out what is happening in Glen Canyon.