South Ridge

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Most of a day
Class 4 with a couple of class 5 moves
Rock Difficulty:
Class 4

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Created On: Aug 27, 2006
Last Edited On: Aug 18, 2007


Combining the two peaks and using a loop route makes the most sense. The views from both peaks are stunning. An approach via the saddle just west of The Fly and a descent from the summit of The Fly down its southeast face to Booth Lake makes the loop. A great trail from Booth Lake will escort you all the way back to the parking area. Also, the ribbed west faces of The Fly and The Spider can retain snow into mid July.

10 miles and 4,500-ft for both summits

From the Booth Lake Trailhead at 8,440-ft hike the easy Booth Lake Trail 1.7 miles & 1,300-ft to Booth Falls. On weekends this section of trail is typically very busy with a mixture of Vail residents and tourists hoping to make up to the falls. Past the falls, the trail is normally not very busy. Continue hiking past the falls another .07 mile to an open meadow at 10,310-ft. Leave the comforts of the Booth Creek Trail and cross the meadow and look for a faint trail that leads up the bank on the opposite side of Booth Creek. Locate a place to cross the creek and pick up the “secret” trail. Be aware that crossing the creek in May through June will be difficult.

Once on the trail, stay on it while it fades in and out for the next mile. The trail is much easier to stay on while descending rather ascending. If you choose to forgo the described loop route, locating and staying on the trail while on your descent will be easy. Keep your TOPO handy and generally head northwest. It’s more of a game trail than a real trail.

From the Booth Creek crossing hike .73 mile northwest. The objective is to get up into the basin just south of Point 12,165, so hike the trail on the right side of an unnamed creek until you reach the meeting place where another unnamed creek descends down from the basin below Point 12,165. The two unnamed creeks will meet together. From here, leave the trail and ascend east up the wooded slope, staying as close to the creek as possible until you reach the tundra-covered basin above.

Hike the tundra filled basin generally north .65 mile to an obvious saddle that resides in between The Fly and Booth Mountain. Extra credit, Booth Mountain is an easy class 3 ascent up its southeast ridge. This is also the spot where you get your first view of the route up The Spider.

Locate the low point between The Fly and the Spider and begin a tough class 3 traverse across the west face of The Fly, generally heading for the low point in The Spiders south ridge which connects to The Fly. The traverse first descends then it finishes with a steep ascent. Also, The Fly’s west face is ribbed with deep inset gully’s which makes for a lot of cliffed-out mini traverses on narrow, grassy benches. Lot’s of surprises here.

Once at the low point of The Spiders south ridge and basically on its crest, begin a class 3 and 4 ridge run. The ridge may look intimidating because for a lot of us, it is intimidating. I’m here to tell you that it does go. But, there are a few places where the run is blocked by rock towers. These towers can and should be climbed. There may be a way to down climb and around the towers but it certainly looked like a lot of work, plus a lot of unknown. One in particular, requires a very committing class 5 move or two. If you are short, climbing this tower may require you to find another way up. From a tiny exposed foothold, I used all of my 5’11 to locate a good hand hold to pull myself up.

For The Fly, descend your ascent route from the summit of the Spider back to the tiny col just north of The Fly’s north face. Climb class 3 rock to its summit.

From the summit of the Fly descend its east ridge and look for an escape route down the southeast face. This face holds snow way into June and into early July. Once at Booth Lake, locate your Booth Lake Trail and the rest is history.