Ascent of Mount Davidson on 2000-12-19

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Tuesday, December 19, 2000
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Davidson
    Elevation:925 ft / 281 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mount Davidson is located in the south-central part of the city, topped by a hundred-foot tall cross. It is a landmark and easy to identify from miles around. This may be one of the most "climbed" mountains in the world, as hundreds of people visit here daily. It was featured in the movie Dirty Harry, so I have climbed a peak that Clint Eastwood has climbed, and that crazy guy he was after.

I was in the Bay Area for a weekend, hiking the county highpoints in the immediate area, plus a visit with my sister, who lives in San Francisco. Last night, I stayed in a hotel in San Jose. It was like studying for a final exam, me studying the road maps to memorize the ways to the Mount Davidson area. I had not been to San Fran in many years and was a little nervous about driving its narrow warren of roads.

I entered the city from the south along Interstate-280, then exiting onto northbound Portola Boulevard and aimed for the general area surrounding Mount Davidson. I then turned into a jumble of side roads, and not unexpectedly, got lost with no idea what to do. The homes here were big mansions and it was a very pretty area of the city.

I started driving roads, taking random turns. encountering dead ends and then trying other roads. This went on for about 15 minutes. Finally, I asked a mailman what to do, and he pointed me to Dalewood Road. I got there and parked, and hiked to the top.

Dalewood Road is very steep, perhaps a 20% gradient. My hike was short and direct, but it was more of a workout than I had planned. In moments, I was on the top and its big cross. The surrounding park is lovely, with some trees as tall as the cross. There were many people here today, but for a few minutes, I had the actual cross to myself.

I spent a few moments wandering the monument, looking up, and also looking out over the cityscape. The trees blocked some of the views. I also studied the plaque, which now commemorates the 1915-1918 Armenian Genocide by the Turks. When more people started to show up, I walked back to my truck. My total time was an hour, including the time spent being lost on the lower roads.

Now it was time to locate my sister's place, in the South of Market area near downtown. Back on Portola, I headed northeast through late-day traffic. The traffic was getting heavy and people in San Francisco just dart into the street, assuming the motorists will do the veering. I was able to find her place with no trouble, having been given excellent directions by her.

However, she was still at work, so I waited in my truck for about a half-hour and watched a city worker set up orange cones on a side road, then get out his radio-controled play car and race it up and down the now-closed road. My sis and I went to a good Ethiopian restaurant nearby her place. The next day I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and hiked Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, then drove home to Phoenix all in one day.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:300 ft / 91 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Route:Dalewood Drive
    Trailhead:625 ft / 190 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike

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