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Climbing over chasms larger than step size is vital to fruit flies, since foraging and mating are achieved while walking. Flies avoid futile climbing attempts by processing parallax-motion vision to estimate gap width. To identify neuronal substrates of climbing control, we screened a large collection of fly lines with temporarily inactivated neuronal populations in a novel high-throughput assay described here. The observed climbing phenotypes were classified; lines in each group are reported. Selected lines were further analysed by high-resolution video cinematography. One striking class of flies attempts to climb chasms of unsurmountable width; expression analysis guided us to C2 optic-lobe interneurons. Inactivation of C2 or the closely related C3 neurons with highly specific intersectional driver lines consistently reproduced hyperactive climbing whereas strong or weak artificial depolarization of C2/C3 neurons strongly or mildly decreased climbing frequency. Contrast-manipulation experiments support our conclusion that C2/C3 neurons are part of the distance-evaluation system.