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In the early morning hours of March 15, the southernmost beach access point in Sunset Cliffs Natural Park failed.

The dawn patrol surfers were met with a drastically altered bluff face. Overnight, the bottom eight feet of the cliff broke off in a solid piece, taking with it the footholds used to get down the cliff to the beach, leaving a sheer vertical drop.

By that afternoon, a line of up to 200 people were waiting to crawl up and down the cliff. Surfboards and babies, 12-packs and umbrellas were passed hand to hand as young spring-break girls were gently boosted up the cliff face.

A surfer girl who has plenty of experience surfing there came in with a broken nose and large gash over her eye from getting hit by her board. She was moved to the front of the line and helped up the cliff with her board.

The situation got a bit chaotic as some people became impatient and tried to find an alternate route up the cliff. This resulted in a huge safety issue as there would be three or four people clinging to the slippery cliff face and sliding off onto the rocks/beach below.

One old guy was there trying to carve steps into the sandstone to replace the ones that had broken off, but he wasn't having much luck.

The city's master plan for Sunset Cliffs Natural Park calls for an informal access point there, with no plans for any kind of permanent structure to access the intertidal zone. Unfortunately, no one foresaw the exponential growth in visitation of the area that has been brought on by Twitter/Yelp/Instagram/Facebook etc.

During medium and high tides access/egress to/from the intertidal zone will be more dangerous as waves that were previously deflected by the natural shape of the cliff face now crash directly into and up the access point.

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Ian Anderson April 14, 2015 @ 12:41 p.m.

Glad to (belatedly) read this. I tried to climb up last week after drifting south from surfing Garbage and thought I was losing it when I couldn't climb up anymore with my board. I might be losing it, but I suppose I might outlast some of those cliffs yet.


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