|Cirque of the Towers
A superb alpine climbing area with some of the most stunning scenery in the Winds. Home of the classic Northeast Face on Pingora and East Ridge of Wolf's Head.
Summitpost.org has excellent information on the Cirque of the Towers.
An arduous hike in over Jackass Pass from the Big Sandy trailhead.
Note: people with recent experience climbing in the Cirque of the Towers, please feel free to add additional info on access, hiking, camping, and other logistics.
32 Total Routes
['4 Stars',9],['3 Stars',13],['2 Stars',8],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
Browse More Classics in Cirque of the Towers
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Cirque of the Towers:
Featured Route For Cirque of the Towers
Black Elk 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c WY
: Wind River Range
: ... : Warbonnet Peak
Black Elk was the "hardest route in the Cirque" for over 20 years. While technically not in the Cirque (see location below), it is one of the best routes in this area of the Winds. (Please note that the pitch lengths are estimates from memory and if anyone has better estimates, please post them in comments.)P1 Scramble up ledges from the left side of the northeast face. Stay low when you have the option. The route finding for the very beginning of the roped climbing was a bit difficult. I ...[more] Browse More Classics in WY
Local Information for Cirque of the Towers
Latest Regional Forum Messages
|By Andrew May|
From: Sandy, UT
Aug 15, 2006
The Cirque is a truly magical place with superb scenery and excellent climbing on solid rock. The climbing is excellent and takes gear well. Especially small nuts and hexes.
Be prepared to start early in the morning since afternoon storms are quite common. The are many great campsites within a few minutes walk of fresh alpine streams and soft places to pitch a tent. Bring sunscreen as the sun is quite intense.
Route finding can be quite tricky even with the Kelsey guidebook so plan on spending a little time finding your route.
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Aug 22, 2006
Some good info to know: ignore the first part of the three sets of joe kelsey's horrible driving directions to get to the cirque (Big sandy opening is your access point), from 191 in boulder take 353 towards the winds and just keep going until you see signs for big sandy opening/campground. Kelsey's guide mentions a left hand turn when the road turns to dirt, ignore that comment, just keep going on the dirt, its something like 40 miles to the big sandy opening from boulder. We tried the second and third options of driving directions and got lost until we asked the folks at the general store in boulder. 5$ a night camping at the trailhead, expect plenty of company there. No permit required at the cirque, very nice feature. Bugs were minimal mid-august, we brought ice axes and ended up using them to dig our latrine. No one else brought them either that we noticed.
Sep 18, 2006
An awesome place, but the bugs are horrendous!
|By Andrew May|
From: Sandy, UT
Oct 2, 2006
Kelsey's directions did suck! We were lost for a while too. I personally felt that route-finding was super difficult, very vague even with the guidebook. We ended up having to bail about four pitches up on Sharks nose, not fun.
We didnt have any problems with bugs though, we were there in early August. Perfect time to go IMO.
|By Steven Lucarelli|
From: Moab, UT
Jun 28, 2007
I don't see any problems with the guide book, it keeps the area adventurous. You just need to have the experience to know how to compare the book to the rock. Supertopos are great but only for certain areas.
|By Andrew May|
From: Sandy, UT
Nov 5, 2007
I was simply voicing my opinion that the guidebook was a little vague. Do you think that a place that requires an hour on a dirt road and a 13 mile hike will make the Cirque less wild?
|By Dave Stewart|
From: Boulder, CO
Feb 5, 2008
Are there any routes that go up the obvious buttress on Watch Tower? I was in the area last fall and the face looks amazing. The guide book mentions a route around to climber's right but not much else. Any FA potential?
|By Lynn S|
Aug 17, 2008
Spent last week in the Cirque, great weather until early Thursday evening and then some snow. The bugs were pretty minimal prior to that so the cold weather Friday and Saturday may knock them way down.
This was my first trip into the Cirque and it is stunning! Took my 15 year old son in for his first real taste of alpine climbing, he loved it. Wolf's Head is one of the coolest 5.6's I have ever been on, massive exposure for sure, a must do.
Jul 13, 2009
I would recommend an ice axe for any parties w/ goals of climbing routes in the Wolf's Head / Shark's Nose / Overhanging Tower area. This (2009) season is unique (snowed through much of June), but there is a TON of snow up there, and any descents down any of those gullies will be quite hairy when there's snow. You don't want to have to make snow bollards in bullet-hard snow for rapping couloirs in the middle of the night...
|By Kurt Montgomery|
Jul 19, 2009
Alec was there still significant snow in and around the camping area's and do you have any pictures from your recent trip. Thanks for any help you can give.
|By mark felber|
From: Wheat Ridge, CO
Jul 28, 2009
For Kurt Montgomery, I got back from the Winds today, an ice axe no longer looks necessary for Wolf's Head (I was on Pingora). That part of Wyoming had an impressive heat wave last week that reduced the snow pack to an insignificant level.
For all, there is a new (2008) guide book to the Cirque of the Towers and Deep Lake by Steve Bechtel: www.firstascentpress.com/cirque-guide.html . Very detailed and well written.
The Big Sandy/Cirque of the Towers area seems to have been discovered by the masses. Walking out yesterday I must have passed at least 100 people hiking in to Big Sandy Lake or the Cirque, including at least one group of a dozen or so in matching shirts, like some kind of uniform. The Big Sandy parking area was packed, 50-60 vehicles. Most of them were probably camping at Big Sandy Lake and fishing or doing day hikes from there, but anyone planning on stopping for the night somewhere on the way to Cirque of the Towers would have had some competition for a campsite. The Cirque itself was pretty full over the weekend, but I was still able to find a secluded spot. Yesterday's parade may have been a bit anomalous, but I was told by a long time regular that the crowds have definitely been increasing lately. Definitely brush up on your low impact travel and camping techniques if you go to the Winds.
I was instructed to move "another 10 feet" off the trail by a horse packer after I had already moved off the trail to let his string of 6 horses pass, which didn't sit too well with me. Shouldn't he train his animals better?
|By Chris Owen|
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Jan 13, 2010
Got rained on for a week straight back in the early 90's, but had a great campsite complete with cave, where I sat and read "Lord of the Rings" - surrounded by mist wreathed towers of dark, wet rock, and the booming o thunder, I almost felt like I was in Mordor, huddled in a cave waiting for the weather to clear - it eventually did.
Jul 14, 2010
I am heading to the Cirque in late July, any word on the snow and bug conditions. I am also looking for an easy alpine route for me and my 14 year old son, any ideas?
|By Jim Lamancusa|
Aug 31, 2010
Can anyone update me about the wag bag situation in the Cirque? Is it required to pack out your poop? Do they have wag bags at the trailhead?
I read in a guidebook that it is manditory, but it seems really unlikely that the "masses" that go to the Cirque are all packing out their poo.
Any advice would be very welcome.
From: Bishop, CA
Mar 17, 2013
I just received my Winds topo maps from Beartooth Publishing. The south one south one (1:50,000) covers the Cirque. It's nicer than the Earthwalk Press one. Shipping fees are nominal from Beartooth directly.
|By Lee Jenkins|
From: Buena Vista, Colorado
May 15, 2013
Can anyone provide details on where to camp in the Cirque? Maybe even GPS data? Heading there in July for the 1st time.
|By Nick Stayner|
From: The Magic City
May 16, 2013
Lee- the camping options are obvious once you descend into the Cirque.
From: Boulder, Colorado
Jun 10, 2014
Does anyone have current beta/conditions in the cirque. Cheers!