Local Climbing Spotlight – The Bat Wall
Tired of driving to Smith every weekend? Stay home and explore some local crags! The Bat Wall out at Broughton Bluff (Lewis & Clark State Park) is without a doubt one of the most underappreciated crags in the greater Portland area. I’ve enjoyed countless days at the Bat Wall over the years, and invariably we had the entire crag to ourselves. It even stays dry in the rain!
The right side of the wall is home to a couple classic moderates. The first pitch of Superstition (5.10+) offers fun, technical moves separated by several good stances, making it a surprisingly good warm-up. Just to the right is Lost Boys (5.10+), another great route with pumpy and exposed moves all the way to the anchors. It’s a wild ride!
The real gems, however, are found on the left half of the wall, starting with Bloodline (5.12b), a bouldery affair punctuated by good rests and a committing finish (most folks seem to exit left along an obvious jug rail, but for full value pull directly over the final roof). Bad Omen (5.12b) is perhaps the most sustained route on the wall, combining a technical start with devious face moves and a strenuous finish. Not hard enough for you? Keep climbing past the anchors into Manson Family Reunion (5.12+), which will take you all the way to the top of the crag. Use a 70m cord and you can lower to the ground!
Last but not least, Dracula (5.12a) is in my opinion the best route on the wall. Technical and pumpy, it keeps you thinking all the way to the intimidating finish. Originally an aid line, it was first free-climbed by our own Gary Rall back in 1990. In 2004, my friend Eric Vining and I made the first “clean” ascents, skipping all 10 bolts. The first half of the route is a bit dicey, with the first gear (a couple RPs) coming at the 3rd bolt. Keep it together while climbing the “ramp” and you’re rewarded with bomber placements at the 5th bolt; just don’t get too pumped plugging cams below the pod! We sent Bloodline sans bolts a few days later, which was far less nerve-racking, as it eats gear start to finish.
This is just a sampler of what the Bat Wall has to offer. A number of other routes have seen little if any traffic in recent years, though some are quite good!
Have fun out there!