Peak(s):  The Fly - 12,560 feet
Date Posted:  05/17/2012
Date Climbed:   05/17/2012
Author:  d_baker
 Like a Fly on the Wall  

May 17, 2012

The Fly: me - Darin

"The Fly" (12,560')
Gore Range

The Fly comes into view as I hike up the Booth Lake trail

Trailhead (TH): Booth Falls (in Vail)
Route: S face --> E ridge
Distance: ~9mi's RT (round trip)
Elevation Gain: ~4050'
Difficulty: moderate snow climbing (low to mid 30 degree range), class 3 scrambling on E ridge

Looking down parts of the S face from the E ridge

Gear: daypack w/Essentials, helmet, crampons, ice axe, 2nd tool (I wasn't sure what kind of snowline I was going to find, so I brought it)

Resources Used For Trip Planning: Dave Cooper's Colorado Scrambles guidebook for directions to the TH, NOAA weather forecast, prior knowledge of trail and area

Note: Yes, this is a climb & post a report in the same day! I had the time.


In Joe Kramarsic's Mountaineering in the Gore Range, A Record of Explorations, Climbs, Routes, and Names he writes about nearby 12er, The Spider, and explains how it got its name. In August of 1958, while on a Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) outing, a group of junior members may have recorded the first ascent of 12,692' (known as The Spider).

When they reached the summit, they found "a spider had spun a web big as an umbrella on the summit of the peak, which we forthwith christened 'The Spider'." It wasn't for some years later that the peak was actually given the official recognized name of The Spider though.

The Spider

In Kramarsic's book, he notes that 12,560' was likely given the name "The Fly" in reference to "its close proximity to the larger peak to the north, The Spider ."

The first time I saw The Spider & The Fly was on a trip last summer when I went into the Piney Creek drainage to hike Mt Powell. At the head of the Piney Creek valley, sat this stunning peak! "What's that?!"
A week or so later, I climbed West Partner with Kimo, and we got a good look at them again from the S ridge route on W Partner (a.k.a., Peak U). Well, someday I'll have to climb those.

The Spider & The Fly (r. & l., respectively): September 2011, on the S ridge of W Partner

Luckily, the Avon public library has Joe Kramarsic's book, so I was able to research the Gore Range, and I learned a little about the area and now I have a detailed map on my TOPO! program. I've had help from Mike (Chicago Transplant) too.


I'm back in Avon again for work, and our contract on the EagleVail golf course is coming to an end. With a day off during the week, I thought I would head into the Gore for a hike. I didn't have an exact plan or destination in mind, other than hitting the Vail area TH's, most likely the Booth Lake area. I wanted to check out W Partner for a possible snow climb, but I was also thinking about The Spider and The Fly.

A report from jbchalk last fall helped me with my "planning" on climbing The Fly.
His group had climbed both with new Fall snow on the routes; and his mention of a gully that accessed the E ridge was key to my route that I ended up taking.
I figured with Spring snow, I would get in a snow climb, and likely some scrambling on the ridge to The Fly. (I was not counting on going to The Spider, which is an out and back from The Fly.)

The Approach

The trail is snow free until after Booth Falls. Snow isn't an issue until the trail dips back down to Booth Creek. It wasn't much of a problem though. Firm early in the morning, soft in the afternoon. Go figure!

Once I reached the valley floor beneath the N to S running ridge from W Partner to Outpost, the snow was mostly continuous but quite firm. In fact, the snow on the approach to Booth Lake was the best snow I've been on this season!
I think it's probably because the valley floor gets pummeled by avalanches during the winter, therefore the debris piles are dense.

I don't care, I'll take the firm snow!

Access gully to the S ridge route to W Partner

I set my sites for Booth Lake, and The Fly that sits above it

Looking back down the Booth Creek drainage, with Outpost above

In the above photo, the saddle furthest to the left is the top of the access gully to W Partner's S ridge route.

The snow continued to be firm, and it boosted my confidence of what I would encounter once on the S face of The Fly.

Above Booth Lake, I stopped to gear up, lather on the sunscreen, and took time to examine my route. I could see an entrance to a gully that probably would exit well on the E ridge, so I looked for the most efficient way to get to it.

The Climb

Looking up at "my route"

Essentially I went up the snow cone at the bottom and center of the above photo, and then angled to the right and worked my way up to the gully - which is in the shadows.

Looking down my line, with Booth Lake below

Looking up at part of the S face route

The snowpack here on the S face is setting up nicely, compared to other aspects and ranges I've experienced recently, which was a nice change! The snow climbing was the best I've encountered all season, and I was stepping onto the steeper parts well after 8am.

The gully to access the E ridge

The short gully climb was the cold & crusty variety, and was great for crampons. The views getting over to it weren't bad either.

"Vista Pt", "Mt Solitude", and "Climber's Pt" (l. to r.) with the S ridge of W Partner in front

Partners (or Peaks' U and V, if you prefer)

Looking up the gully

Views out of the gully, MHC and its Wilderness Friends

Take a look at the other side

At the col, I scrambled up and over a rock step and found a seat to enjoy the views a bit more, and to take off my crampons.

Wow. This area is kind of disappointing.

West Partner

After getting the crampons off and stashing them along with my axe, I headed up the ridge.

Excitement was building, until I saw this:

And the other side of the above photo:

Hmm. The pictures make the snow look a little flat, but it's a little steeper and narrower than it appears. I might be a sissy too.

What I know is that the top layer of the snow up there was a little bit rotten, and it was sitting on top of what...I don't know. I suspect rock slab. I looked at it, probably about 40-50' (vertical) shy of the summit, and thought that I shouldn't cross it. So I didn't. But I'm ok with that. I was having a good day!

The decision not to go higher was quick and easy really. There's been times when I've turned back on peaks, anything from a class 2 walk-up or sometimes more challenging, and I've looked back afterwards with a bit of regret for not pushing a little harder. Not this time though.
I was quite happy to be a fly on the wall.

Might as well take some more pictures.....

Tenmile Range, I believe

Might as well go down too, those clouds are not thinning

As I retraced my steps down the ridge, I did spy a grassy ledge system that would likely take me to the top. But I still didn't care. The summit will be there for another day. Besides, I don't have a 12er checklist box to check. ;)

Back down at the lake, I repacked the gear, and headed down with still firm snow. Perfect.
And, I satisfied my curiosity about snowlines on W Partner.

Yeah, I think those would go in a good snow year; maybe even this year with a rock step to negotiate and a partner to go with.

Of course, one more of one of my other favorite areas, an area I was in several days ago

Thanks for reading,


 Comments or Questions

Might as well take some more pictures.....
05/18/2012 02:42
Dude...what a pleasure to view and read.

Turning back can be liberating. Remove the summit and all the other things that make the journey so worthwhile become so apparent. Front row center. Just like West Partner in your pic on the way down. That is a great pic of a magnificent mountain. One that was an absolute pleasure to climb with you last year.

One of my best days recently is when I turned back. I went up Glacier Gorge looking for the summit of Pagoda. The conditions were difficult and I turned back. On the way down I sat on the big rock just above Black Lake but beneath the towering face of McHenrys Peak. I took a nap, something I hardly ever do. I opened my eyes 30 minutes later and stared at the dark puffy clouds rolling overhead. You know. It was sublime, much like your trip through the Booth Creek drainage while seeking the Fly.

Wild. Crazy. Beautiful. You gotta love the Gore. Nice trip my friend.


Never thought I'd live to see the day
05/18/2012 06:17
where the Gores would hold that little snow in early May. How sad. Hard to stay sad, though, when we're talking the Gores. It has such a unique, alpine, jagged, almost European Alps feel to it (based on pictures i've seen that is, of the Alps).

So you found Kramarsic's book in the Avon Library eh? The binding on mine is starting to fall apart, I think a pitstop is in order.

I'd say sorry that you didn't summit, but it doesn't sound like you are all that bummed about it. You know what be a cool long weekend backpack? Either Booth Lake or a camp in Upper Piney with a tour de booth/piney/upper slate/pitkin/back to booth.

Dad Mike

No more
08/12/2014 23:13
Trip reports for you until you can figure out how to add pictures like the rest of us.


Very nice, Darin
05/18/2012 14:14
Looks like a fantastic outing up in the Gores. Summit or no summit, whatever. You have the right attitude most definitely. Just being back there is better than anything else you could be doing.

Glad my report helped you a bit...good to know they come of some use.

I literally cannot wait to get back in there every weekend (or maybe every other weekend) come June & July. Just love it.



Ahh the Gores
05/18/2012 14:54
my withdrawal will be satisfied soon. speaking of which, you busy this weekend? if not, drop me a line. solid TR Darin and let me know if you ever want to give it another run.

Chicago Transplant

Great Spot
05/18/2012 19:24
”Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug”, or something like that? Summit or no summit, that is one fine perch. Glad to see you sneak in at least one more Vail side Gore trip before work sends you to another locale...


re: Mad Mikey
05/18/2012 19:26
Dude, you need to tell your employers to allow photobucket at work! Now that 14erW is no longer, I'll probably upload my photos to for my reports.
Using photobucket and linking them is/was easier to copy/paste to 14erW.

Other than that, thanks for the comments. It was a great day out, and I'll be back in there very soon.

Floyd, I've heard of your plans. Thanks, but I'll be day tripping some peaks in the Gore this weekend.
Have a great trip, and I'll look for a TR when you guys get out!

Mike (Chicago), I'll call you before I leave town.

Steve Knapp

05/18/2012 19:44
A rare May trip into the Gores, nice work Darin. Not a bad place to have to come back to. I didn't know you have to leave Avon, bummer. Hopefully you'll end up somewhere else that is nice with a lot of peaks.

Spider/Fly still on my to-do list, thanks for the background and info on the peak. I really need to get that book before I climb everything in the Gores.

Hey, nothing wrong with 12ers! Especially in the Gore Range. I know you were just kidding.


Thanks for the ride.
05/18/2012 19:51
That was a nice report. Hope you get back to those chutes.


Nice TR
05/20/2012 17:52
Thanks for sharing this report for all of us Hard Gore Cores. I need to get back in there someday, just stunning scenery. BTW, if you haven't been to the Booth Lake are in wildflower season I would highly recommend it.


06/06/2012 19:51
Great info Darin, thanks!....I was just up at Booth lake (still frozen)Sunday 6.3.12 scoping dry/summer routes for the Fly.
Luv me sum Gore Range !

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