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Routes in The Bat Caves

Hanging Loose T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Elevation: 1,701 ft
GPS: 48.627, -122.416 Google Map · Climbing Map
Shared By: michael faith on Jun 30, 2012
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Nate Ball, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick
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The area is named for the cave-like talus formations that bats call home but hikers will likely know it as Oyster Dome. Here you'll find Bellingham's closest multi-pitch routes on the highest quality rock in the area.
No Trespassing Details

Getting There

From I5 take Alger Exit (#240). Go .4 miles until Barrel Springs Road is found. Turn left onto Barrel Springs Road and travel .7 miles where a gravel road cuts right, sporting a Blanchard Hill Tailhead sign. Follow this gravel road as it winds to the right, around a ridge and past a 40 foot tall overhanging grey cliff band and past a large parking area on the right. You will then follow the gravel road as it winds to the right, around a ridge and past a 40 foot tall overhanging grey cliff band on the right. Just after passing the cliff band m turn left onto another gravel road with an open gate at its start. Follow this gravel road to its end (known as hang glider's lookout). At the roads end, you an park anywhere as long as yo stay out of the way of the hang gliders. There are two trailheads located here. You will not want to hike the one that starts in the trees unless you want the long way to the Bat Caves. Instead, follow the trail that starts on the west or ocean side, of the parking area that sports a Bat Caves and Ice Age sign at its start. The trail will start in the clear cut.
Bellingham->Trailhead: 15-20 Minutes.
Trailhead->Bat Caves: 30-40 Minutes.

These days Chuckanut Drive is on Google's Street View so, if it's your first time, you can scope out the trail head's appearance before you go. Also, the trail can be viewed on Google Maps.

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Bat Caves

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Marblemount, WA
calvino   Marblemount, WA
Did a little cleaning on Hanging Loose yesterday. It looks like others have been up cleaning, and bolting new lines. A route 15 feet right of Hanging Loose looks interesting. Anyone have beta on the development out here? Sep 18, 2014
Marblemount, WA
calvino   Marblemount, WA
First off, I love that the only other comments are photos of non-climbers camping on a closed trail... How did you find this forum?

So, the bat caves are closed but it does not seem to be a climber issue if you are not in the caves. Pardon my ignorance, if I am mistaken. The rock is quite good and there is a variety of worthwhile climbing, though nothing to write home about. At the base of Oyster Dome (ie "The Bat Caves") there are a few obvious lines. On the left overhanging prow is a bolted 5.12c called Meltdown. There is a clean-ish top to bottom crack system to the right called Hang Loose at 5.10+, as well as a number of bolted routes from 5.8 to 5.12 accessed from the top. Routes are overgrown with plants and lichen but have surprisingly good bolts.

I got on Hang Loose and would recommend bringing a full rack to 5" with doubles of .75 - 4. It goes with a single rack to 4" if you are prepared to run out some wide and dirty 5.8 crack. just sayin'

The first pitch is 5.7 but crumbly and nasty as you traverse the ramp up and left to reach a solid bolted anchor at the base of the crack. Then follow the splitter (through a few very unpleasant bushes) to a chock stone stance where it starts to get wide (a bolted anchor would be great here). The third pitch continues through 4-5" crack to the upper terrace and the top out.

You can find more pictures on Cascade Climbers, and elsewhere. Sep 22, 2013
The caves are just the gaps between large boulders that fell off the cliff. They are very fun to explore though. Some of them go pretty deep. The Oyster Dome is the top of the cliff in the picture. It's named that because you can see the oyster farm in the water below. There are some bolts at the top but I don't know about the climb yet. I saw 2 guys attempt to go up once but they quickly became stuck and turned back. There are some campsites up there. You cannot park or camp at the overlook but if you park outside the gate you can camp near the top at the campsites. No fires so bring a backpacking stove. I always camp next to the caves though.

Jul 11, 2012

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