Type: Trad, 400 ft, 4 pitches
FA: Royal Robbins & Dave Rearick June 1959, FFA: John Long, Rick Accomazzo, Mike Graham & Bill Antel 1973
Page Views: 37,786 total · 242/month
Shared By: Chris Owen on Mar 11, 2006
Admins: C Miller, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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The ultimate SoCal classic which takes pride of place on Tahquitz Rock - winding its way up the center of the West Face Bulge.

P1) The Bat Crack, 5.11a. From the ledge drop down and into the crack, initially a lieback then finesse requirements begin to kick-in culminating with a tough move past a bolt - don't relax though, an energetic mantle is required to gain the belay ledge up to the left and bolts. This pitch can also be climbed direct from lower down.

P2) 5.11a. Thin and steep leftwards to the flake (well protected if using one of the anchor bolts). Now up the flake which proves to be moderate, but in an exposed and wondrous position. Past a flake (The Bologna Slicer) go down left to a ledge (The Batwalk) and more bolts.

P3) 5.11a. Back to the flake system and, as it heads left step over it to the right and up to a bolt, pass this on the right up to a thin diagonal crack (small TCU) follow this to a left facing corner which leads to a pin and nut belay higher up.

P4) 5.8. Ahhh, I can still feel the grin forcing its way onto my face as I head up the last pitch, a thin flake, over the arch roof to find myself standing, practically in disbelief, at the top of The Vampire with my mate Fred.


Use From Bad Traverse which begins at The Trough and heads left past a tree over to Super Pooper and The Step, but before reaching these routes head up (kinda tricky) to ledge with a 2 bolt anchor which lies to the left of The Bat Crack.


Standard rack including a few quickdraws.


C Miller
C Miller   CA  
The must do route of the Idyllwild area and perhaps the best climb of it's grade in all of Southern California. Don't pass this one by as it's not as challenging as appearances might suggest.

Some additional comments:

P1) By all means do the direct start as it adds a bit more quality crack climbing and doesn't bump the difficulty up any. This is a long and somewhat strenuous pitch that, unlike pitches 2 and 3, requires more endurance than anything. Pitches 2 & 3 are mostly moderate climbing with a boulder problem thrown into the mix.

P2) The move left off the belay, where you're reaching to the flake system, is somewhat reachy and always seems a bit odd; once the flake is reached it's 5.9 liebacking and unbelievably amazing considering the location on the West Face Bulge.

P3) Moving past the bolt is a boulder problem and the hardest move on the entire climb (imo). Once past the bolt the climbing eases and it's a romp to the top.

Also, it's possible to rap from the bolts atop pitch 2 (left of the flake) to the bolts on Vampire Ledge with a single 60 meter rope. Don't try this with anything less than a 60m rope as it's almost exactly 100' to the ledge. Perhaps useful to know if the afternoon T-storms catch you off guard. Mar 12, 2006
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
I must confess that The Bat Crack is the hardest pitch for me, my power to weight ratio sucks, so I'm usually a little fried when I get to the bolt, in that state it doesn't matter how good the holds are. I agree that technically P3 is the trickiest. I took a huge fall from there once, fell from the diagonal crack past the crux trying to fumble a piece in below me - what a chicken. Mar 13, 2006
Adam Stackhouse

Adam Stackhouse    
Climbing as in life, can really boil down to humility. In this sport, there are no chickens... Mar 22, 2006
Stein Lundby  
I like the direct finish:
Instead of traversing right at the bolt on P3, continue along the flake -- which progressively becomes more delicate. The climbing is less bouldery and more continuous. Also, the anchors you then reach allow you to rap your way down to the base of the Vampire with a 60m rope.

I find it sand-bagged for 5.11a; I would recommend being a solid 5.11 climber before doing it -- so you can actually enjoy climbing it.

Personally, I find the bat crack to be over-rated. Granted, it's a beautiful line, but it is slippery and full of... bat crap.

Also, to my knowledge the only clean rap down from the top goes from the new chains atop Field of Dreams and requires a *70m* rope. Aug 21, 2006
Regarding the last pitch, is there available gear placements above the bolt? If so, what sizes should I bring? Where is the next belay located? Any additional information about this pitch is more than welcome!

Thanks. Nov 8, 2006
Per Stein's recommendation I tried the 'direct finish' and continued up the flakes, instead of taking the original pitch three out right. I found the climbing on those delicate flakes to be quite exciting as the footholds are small and it is uncertain if cams placed behind the flake would hold a fall or just pull a large chunk of the flake onto your head. At the end of the pitch you find yourself about ten feet shy of the bolted anchor, above gear in an expanding flake, with an odd 5.9 mantle to finish the pitch. "Not desperate, but not a good place to fall." I'd probably rate this pitch 10a(5.9R).
From the anchor at the end of the flakes, my partner climbed the last pitch of Happy Hooker, which was quite nice. The pitch starts off with one bolt of aid, then moves right and up on easy terrain before climbing a cool section of steep 5.9. This pitch tops out right by a bolted anchor. I would suspect that you could rap back to the anchor at the end of the flakes, then to the 2nd belay on the vampire, then to the 1st belay on the vampire, then to vampire ledge with a 60m. Can anyone confirm that this works with a 60m? Apr 11, 2007
Brad G
Brad G  
Unless you enjoy Bat crap I wouldnÂ’t recommend the direct start to anyone. The wind caused the shit to fly everywhere. It got in my hair, eyes and mouth. Not a fun experience. The rest of the route is of course totally awesome. Especially the second pitch. You cant beat that exposure! Sep 21, 2007
Mike   Phoenix
What a stellar climb! The best I've done so far at Tahquitz.

I thought the last part of the Bat Crack (the mantle move) was harder than either of the supposed cruxes. Nov 14, 2007
Brad G
Brad G  
Agreed Nov 26, 2007
Bruce Diffenbaugh
Bruce Diffenbaugh   Cheyenne,Wyoming
Best route on this side of the valley.The flakes route is harder in my opinion but this is the coolest line.Both a must do for any one at this grade. Jan 29, 2008
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
I'm a little surprised by the comment that the direct start is dirty. Albeit I haven't climbed this route in 10 years, I remember it being quite clean. Two more points about the direct start/first pitch: it's not .11a unless you're crack skills are wanting; and the direct start, I think, make the first pitch substantially harder. I think it's only .10c from the ledge, and that's mostly because of the bouldery section past the bolt. However, the direct start adds a good 40' of steep, slick climbing. You'll be much more tired because of it. Still probably only .10d, maybe.

Also, I had a heck of a time at the mantle at the end of the pitch but saw my second climb up and level to the belay bolts and just step over. I felt dumb. Mar 26, 2008
Bruce Diffenbaugh
Bruce Diffenbaugh   Cheyenne,Wyoming
The direct start ( The bat crack ) is 5.10b at least that's what it was when I led it. Don't feel dumb. That mantle is 5.10c I did the same thing. Most everyone does. Apr 2, 2008
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Finally ticked this on Memorial Day, 2008. Cold temps (40s), swirling fog, and limited visibility added to the imposing and exciting nature of the route!

P1 - Bat Crack. Did the direct start. It was clean except for some brittle rock at the bottom. I think this *significantly* ups the difficulty of the pitch since you arrive at the Bat Crack proper fatigued and with some of your pro already used. It is a 45m pitch done this way. The direct start seemed all of 10+ to me - tight hands, slick feet, and no rests through the business. Keep plugging upwards, once you hit the wide part below the bolt you get plenty of rests between harder moves. Have faith! I did the "step across" rather than the mantel. It still felt 10+ and plenty exciting to me.

P2 - Ouch, those crimps hurt with cold fingers! What more needs to be said... a wild move and a wild pitch. The upper section might only be 9+/10-, but the position and sometimes insecure feet keeps the excitement level high! On the crux, my foot popped at the last minute and I dyno'd for the jug and stuck it. That got me going :)

P3 - Easy liebacking, clip the bolt, and bust the move. I'm only 5'8, and the move to reach the seam felt pretty damn hard. I took a few falls before sticking it. Above the bolt, the climbing stays delicate until the obvious undercling above. I was able to place a good RP in the seam, but it was exciting to place! Keep your head on until you get to the undercling. Some route finding linking crack features sees you to the next belay. Hand size pieces (#0.75 - #2 camalot) are needed for this belay.

P4 - Up the finger crack, over the roof, and kiss the top!

Rack - Wires, including RPs. At least a double set of cams from small (green C3) to #3 camalot. I had triple #0.75, #1, and #2 camalots and was fairly thankful on the Bat Crack+Direct start... it is a LONG pitch. Bring LOTS of slings/quickdraws if you are doing the direct start. Be sure to save some long slings for the last move of the Bat Crack, or you'll be cursing the rope drag. May 27, 2008
Michael Ybarra
on the road
Michael Ybarra   on the road
Did the direct start, smelled bat crap but didn't have to do any guano jams; the flakes on P2 collected quite a bit of guano and smelled like it as well.

I tried to figure out the step-across to the P2 belay but couldn't, so I wound up doing the mantle, which worked.

Thought moving up past the bolt on P3 to be the definite crux and quite hard.

Followed Andy's rack suggestion but never used the second set of C3s or the RPs (ran out the P3 thin crack until the bigger flake).

A really stellar climb. Jul 20, 2009
San Diego, CA
mschlocker   San Diego, CA
After reading all the beta and scoping out the step across for P1 I wasn't really seeing the move. I went for the mantle and am glad I did. For me it was a very dynamic move and my favorite on the route.

The direct start was clean when I did it but there were bats inside the crack higher up chirping(?) at me. Sep 21, 2009
Oakland, CA
Sirius   Oakland, CA
For me:

Bat Crack with direct start = endurance crux
Mantel to bolts = mental crux
Crimps off of belay to flake = pain crux
Moving past bolt into seam = technical crux

Full value route, understatement. All the stars possible. Feb 10, 2010
Cottonwood Heights, UT
Trevor   Cottonwood Heights, UT
whoa....really?!?!? yea, it's that good... Jun 16, 2010
Will S
Joshua Tree
Will S   Joshua Tree
Direct finish: A hard to see, but perfect half pad, 8 finger edge takes the "R" out of the connector pitch for the leader, but you'd need to run it way out above that to keep the second protected on the same section. I'd call the connector .10b, with a 5.8R section. Jul 23, 2010
La Jolla, CA
Roberto   La Jolla, CA
In the spirit of having and adventure i tried to onsight the vampire at midnight under a full moon wearing a cloak and vampire teeth...I did not onsihgt, but had a lot of fun trying! Here is a TR from that night.

pullharder.org/2010/09/11/a… Sep 12, 2010
John Long
Venice, CA
John Long   Venice, CA
For full value do the Pharoah as pitch one and get some true 5.12 in the mix because you can.

JL Jul 20, 2011
Booty in the Bat-crack! Yesterday I pretty much welded a brand new blue dmm curve nut into the bat crack after a 25 footer (yeah, a little more slack than I thought)...... so, hope you're good at extracting nuts. Aug 8, 2011
Colin Parker
Idyllwild, CA
Colin Parker   Idyllwild, CA  
Climbed this thing today on a nice, sunny January day up here. A few additions to the comments above:

1. I think the direct start is clean and a must-do. In fact, it seems a bit silly that it's not part of the standard vampire route, although I understand that it was originally an aid line that went free. Save yourself the extra approach and give yourself some more quality climbing!

2. Gear-wise, I would recommend a standard double rack, possibly adding extra #1 & #2 C4s if you do the direct start to the bat crack. Only one #3 C4 is needed on this climb (and you could get on without it easily).

3. My opinion is that the move at the bolt on P3 is easily the crux of the climb. My feet were frozen though.

Such an awesome route! Jan 5, 2014
The climb is in the shade for the entire morning. Keep this in mind if you're going to try the route on a cool/cold day. It can get downright freezing on this climb in the early hours. May 13, 2014
Keegan Dimmick
Winchester, VA
Keegan Dimmick   Winchester, VA
Hey climbers! I had a friend take a bad fall on the first pitch of The Vampire today. He sustained a broken leg and other minor injuries. If you are one of the lucky folks that gets to climb this route and finds it full of gear it would be really amazing if he could get it back. He had to be taken out by helicopter and we didn't have the time to mess with the gear. Thanks MP'ers and climb on! May 19, 2014
My two cents:
The direct start, .10d rattly fingers, adds significantly and bumps the pump factor up, for sure. Really bad fall potential at the mantle. Turning it is not hard...it's the standing up part that is hard, just find that key tiny black crimper up and at about 2 O'Clock (feel around, it's there): Mantle with the left, crimp with the right. Too Strong and I both agree that if you do not do the direct start, then you have not really done the Vampire...just sayin'...

P2 Once you land that slippery stem walk those crimps to the left and reach down low with the left to the edge of the flake, then ballet that right foot to the left to stop the barn door as you pop for the Jug with that right. Harder if shorter. Do not link this pitch to the next, because if you do and your (weak...?...) second falls at this crux, they will drop into outer space from all the rope stretch.

P3 crux is a friction-y boulder move to a slopy three-finger pad for the left, followed by a kinda scary finger rail. Do not stop along the way for too long fiddling for gear (...the pump-o-meter will be ticking...) just punch it through till the fingers get good & deep, then drop in the thin gear.

Apr 10, 2015
Cole Paiement
Cole Paiement  
Climbed this bad boy this past Saturday. Superb climbing all the way from the base to the top. Every moment of this climb was fun and exciting for one reason or another.

P1: Did the direct start. Realized my endurance is currently quite lacking. This definitely felt every bit a 5.10d, if not a little harder. Unexpected mini-crux at the bolt took a lot out of me. Took a couple whips at the mantle (definitely not my strong suit). Surprisingly soft falls with a #1 BD extended up high in the crack.

P2: Partner lead. Made the step across look pretty easy. But halfway up the flake the pump from the Bat Crack caught up to him and he had to take. The Bat Walk was surprisingly weird.

P3: Took a couple falls on the crux. Sunny summer afternoons might not be the best time to climb this pitch. I watched my feet slide right off the rock a couple times before I finally found a (semi) comfortable placement and stuck the move. Placed a #0 BD mostly for a mental boost and then moved up to the better holds.

P4: Awesome easy ending with some cool moves. Jun 23, 2015
I felt that the Bat Crack was the hardest pitch! 2nd pitch crux is just a few thin moves then jugs. I did the 10d crux on the 3rd pitch I think, pretty stright forward once I figured out the beta. Enjoy! Jun 18, 2016
This is a truly extraordinary route, best I've done by far. Every pitch (even the last one) is inspiring and delightful. I have to say though, I don't see what the fuss is about the mantle on pitch one. Definitely not the hardest part of the pitch, much less the route, and it protects very easily if you climb a little higher in the crack and place gear high before committing. I think the third pitch is the technical crux of the climb. Getting established in the thin seam requires delicate footwork and some hard crimping. Hopefully I can come back soon and get it clean!

Also, why does the crux on the Bat Crack have that bolt? The crack just beneath it takes great gear (orange TCU, if I recall). Was a bolt placed on the FA or the FFA? I'm not saying we should chop it, but it's just a wonder to me that no one has. Sep 17, 2016
Daniel Vakili
Los Angeles, CA
Daniel Vakili   Los Angeles, CA
the direct start is clean. You'd have to be searching to find crap. I guess it has cleaned up over the years, and/or the bats moved out.

It is just such perfect pure cruiser hand-to-fingers crack jammin, the kind you dream of, so don't skip. If you're worried about pump, you get a no-hands stem rest at the spot you would drop in for the in-direct start, so you can shake it off. Jun 2, 2017
Mr. Stevens
Boulder, CO
Mr. Stevens   Boulder, CO
Linking p3+4 is very reasonable. Amazing route, like climbing on a giant potato chip. Jun 29, 2017
master gumby  
Climbed this for the first time on the full moon last night and it was so sick. The friction (much needed for P3) was superb. I agree with consensus here that bat crack is by far and away the hardest pitch. It's sustained, has a cruxy buldging section by the bolt, and a tough mantle as the cherry on the top. The other pitches are spectacular but only have sections of 5ft that are hard, the rest is gorgeous 5.10 climbing. I'll be repeating this route many times Oct 25, 2018
Thomas Claiborne
Thomas Claiborne  
Can someone give me the history or the reason as to why there is a bolt on the first pitch on the right of the finger crack? It just seems like an odd place for one. Dec 17, 2018