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The Bat Caves

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Hanging Loose T 

The Bat Caves  


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Location: 48.6267, -122.4159 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Peter Franzen, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: michael faith on Jun 30, 2012
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BETA PHOTO: Picture of the cliffs head on.

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Description 

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.

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.

Climbing Season



Weather station 7.3 miles from here

1 Total Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',0],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',0],['5.8',0],['5.9',0],['5.10',1],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]


Featured Route For The Bat Caves
borrowed photo shows Oyster Dome from the base. The large wrinkled prow in center has Meltdown 5.12c 1-pitch and Crack system on right is Hanging Loose 5.10+ 3-pitches

Hanging Loose 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b  WA : Northwest Region : ... : The Bat Caves
This beautiful crack splits the right side of the Oyster dome top to bottom. There is some great climbing, it just happens to be guarded by choss and vegetation. Ah, the Northwest...[more]   Browse More Classics in WA

Photos of The Bat Caves Slideshow Add Photo
Signage below the talus field.
BETA PHOTO: Signage below the talus field.
Hand Drawn Topo of Oyster Dome (Bat Caves) from "Bellingham Rocks" by Jason Henrie
BETA PHOTO: Hand Drawn Topo of Oyster Dome (Bat Caves) from &q...

Comments on The Bat Caves Add Comment
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By Charles Porter
Jul 11, 2012
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.
Our campsite next to the caves.
Our campsite next to the caves.


I plan on climbing that by next summer. But I will need some help and guidance to get up to that level. This refereed to sometimes as Blanchard Hill or Blanchard Mountain.
I plan on climbing that by next summer. But I will need some help and guidance to get up to that level. This refereed to sometimes as Blanchard Hill or Blanchard Mountain.


This is just 1 of the many caves.
This is just 1 of the many caves.


There are 2 paintings that have been there for years.
There are 2 paintings that have been there for years.


This is the second one.
This is the second one.


This one is much newer but I don't like it.
This one is much newer but I don't like it.


This is in the first cave we went in, just under the sabre-tooth painting.
This is in the first cave we went in, just under the sabre-tooth painting.


Another pic of the cliff.
Another pic of the cliff.


This is near the base of the cliff. I think there are 3 cave openings under that one slab.
This is near the base of the cliff. I think there are 3 cave openings under that one slab.


By this point in this one cave we had passed 2 drops about 20 feet and this one was about 12 feet. Almost lost my flashlight in a pool down there. Bring rope with you when you go in here or you can get stuck.
By this point in this one cave we had passed 2 drops about 20 feet and this one was about 12 feet. Almost lost my flashlight in a pool down there. Bring rope with you when you go in here or you can get stuck.


Nice scenery.
Nice scenery.


It's work the hike just for the view. This was taken from the highest point at the bottom of the cliff.
It's work the hike just for the view. This was taken from the highest point at the bottom of the cliff.


These were all over the top of one park of the cave.
These were all over the top of one park of the cave.
By Calvino
From: Bellingham, WA
Sep 22, 2013
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.
By Calvino
From: Bellingham, WA
Sep 18, 2014
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?