The majestic Spider from "Booth Mountain's" flower strewn south ridge.
Colorado’s spectacular but barely known Gore Range is host to many alpine summits over 13,000-ft and many more summits over 12,000-ft. In the relatively short stretch from Gore Pass in the north to Tenmile Creek in the south, the Gore range is densely populated with 50 some mountains over 12,000-ft. The Gores, rather then consisting of large isolated mountains rising from the timber or tundra, consist instead of dramatic serrated ridges, with the summits being ridge junctions or highpoints. These dramatic ridges are riddled with gnarled, tooth-like spires that have mesmerized many world-class climbers. Many of these high and wild ridges actually have names like, The Zodiac Spires, Ripsaw Ridge, Red Diamond Ridge and The Grand Traverse.
Geologicaly the Gore Range is a fault-block mountain range. Similiar to the Sangre de Cristos of Colorado and the Tetons of Wyoming in that these ranges are bounded by faults that broke and shifted, thrusting up the mountains while downdropping the valleys. Although the rock is similiar to the Idaho Springs Formation of the Front Range, the rugged Gore's contrasting orogensis makes these mountains look quite different from the glaciated folded anticline that makes up the Front Range. Glaciers played an extensive role in carving the cirques and spires that abound in the Gores. Many of the drainages are choked by large terminal moraines at their lower reaches and cut by successive headwalls higher up. Many headwalls are graced with gorgeous waterfalls.
The Gore Range is almost completely encompassed by the Eagles Nest Wilderness. This 133,325 acre Wilderness Area was established in 1976. It is popular (especialy the Vail side) but wilderness protection has granted a lasting pristene quality that is palpable. Despite the network of access trails, many drainages (the upper reaches in particular) remain trail-less. Wilderness regulations do apply; please follow them as this area is a real treasure.
Only 60 miles at its closest point from Denver, the Gore Range as a whole is relatively unknown. Due to the lack of mining roads that criss-cross more popular mountain ranges the interior of the Gore Range can be difficult to reach. Of the summits of the Gore Range none attain the magic 14,000-ft mark, which accounts for some of the ranges obscurity. The monarch of the Gore Range is the 13,534-ft. Mount Powell at the north end of the range. Overall, the west side of the Gore Range is more accessible than the east. If approaching from the east, expect long, tedious, bushwhacking adventures with difficult route finding.
A result of the Gore Range's obscurity is that few of the summits are officialy named. The Colorado Mountain Club and enterprising climbers have often bestowed their own names. These unofficial designations often are the "alphabet" designations of the early CMC trips (relics of the 1930's) or the more inspired names that came latter on (The Spider, Mount Solitude, etc). A list of these names and their elevations can be found at Gerry and Jennifer Roach's wonderful website. The process educating one's self about these mountains is quite rewarding. Hand label your maps.
Those of us that are determined to spend some time climbing the Gores should own updated U.S. Geological survey topography maps and brush up on their compass skills. Precise planning and execution are of paramount importance when selecting routes in this range. With solid route finding, many of these quiet summits can be climbed without a rope. Major faces and long jagged ridges provide unlimited technical climbing opportunities as well. An ice axe is highly recommended on any early season climbs.
Please do your own research and homework for the Gores because this mountain range lacks any current guidebook exposure. After developing strong map reading skills, go and discover for yourself the Gore Range magic you occasionally hear about.
Please see Theron Welch's excellent page on the Gore Range for more information. His photos and descriptions are inspiring and informative. Thank you Mr. Welch.
Text graciously provided by Kane with some elaboration by myself.
Sopris before the sky raking Gore Range.
"Booth Mountain" Overview
"Booth Mountain" from along the south ridge. The easiest route follows the slanting grassy ramp above and to the left of the talus skirt.
"Booth Mountain" is a rugged little mountain located at the heads of the Piney River Valley and the Booth Creek Drainage. This country is the domain of The Spider and the landscape is quite wild. Although rising only to 12,163 feet it is guarded by a rough cliff band and narrow classic Gore Range ridges (it is also the 43rd highest ranked summit of the Gore Range). It is separated from the ridge of The Spider and The Fly by the informally named West Booth Pass. It is the rugged most member of a small massif located west of the main range crest. Also included in this group are obscure Unnamed 12,380(the 39th highest ranked mountain in the Gores) and Unnamed 12,195.
In position and character "Booth Mountain" is classic Gore Range. Its ascent tours aspen glades beneath sandstone cliffs, visits a vigorous waterfall on Booth Creek, flirts with rugged narrow ridges, and ultimately succeeds on surprisingly steep grass ramps. The whole enterprise is a refreshing navigational challenge. If you wish to discover the nuances of this mountain please don't read the route description. The summit view is spectacular, a view of the ragged main range crest roaring across the upper Piney River Valley. From north-west to south-east stretches the alphabet summits. The view of Peak E, Peak F, Peak G and Peak H is especially fine. And nearby The Spider rises like a misplaced monolith. If you like the Gore Range Booth Mountain will remind you why...
Maps and Directions
The 10 mile roundtrip Booth Creek Route on "Booth Mountain".
Booth Creek Trailhead:
"Booth Mountain" is accessed from the Booth Creek Trail head. T get there Take I-70 to the East exit in Vail. At the exet go west about 2 miles to Booth Creek Road (there should be a smallish street-sign looking sign for the trailhead). Follow this for a quarter mile to the small signed parking lot.
Booth Creek Route: >10 miles, 3,600 feet elevation gain, Class 2+ to Class 3.
Follow the pleasant Booth Creek Trail past the falls at 1.8 miles in. To view the falls take a brief detour to the west. Warning: from the falls the way back to the trail is steepish. Past the falls climb in to a meadow and stream confluence at 2.45 miles. Here leave the main trail and locate a fainter use trail accross the creek to your left. This trail is essential to reasonable passage but it does grow faint in places and it is scouged by a bit of deadfall. Around 3.15 miles follow the ever fainter trail up a subsidiary stream coming in from the right. This will position you on route to West Booth Pass. From the pass it is possible to either follow a ridge crest (3rd class) or cut across a gentler saddle. From the saddle the easiest route is across a talus skirt and up a grassy ramp to a the south face before scampeing up the solid summit rocks. A rougher alternative would be to continue from the pass up the south ridge to where it turns left as a short rough and exposed east ridge. This would likely be class 3-4. Whatever your route I think the mini routefinding challenges this mountain offers will be appreciated.
No permits or fees are required. Like all wilderness areas no mechanized or motorized vehicles are permitted within the Eagles Nest boundaries.
Wilderness is land set aside as part of wild America, where man can be a visitor. The natural environment has not been disturbed. Travel is restricted to foot or horseback. No mechanized equipment is allowed.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service at the # below:
Eastern Portion of the Wilderness:
Dillon Ranger District
680 River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
Western Portion of the Wilderness:
Holy Cross Ranger District
P.O. Box 190, 24747 US HWY 24
Minturn, CO, 81645, Phone: 970-827-5715
When To Climb
This mountain could be inaccesible in winter due to its position. The Booth Creek Route travels beneath several avalanche runs. For that reason ascent is reccomended for June through October.
Camping is available up the Booth Creek Trail, with notable spots near the noted "Trail Junction".