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Cirque of the Towers: Beta on Linking NE Face of Pingora and East Ridge of Wolf's Head

Original Post
BJB · · Texas · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 195

Has anyone done this and is willing to PM me beta?  Is it fairly doable with a very early start, or would it be better to break it up into two days? 

It looks like we will have to pitch out NE face of Pingora but we can probably simul most of Wolf's Head.  As I haven't been to the Cirque yet, I'd appreciate any input people have on this.  

Seth Kane · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 113

looking to go car to car or cirque to cirque? I'd plan on simuling a bit to link pitches and moving as quickly as possible, but it's really feasible car to car. 

DavisMeschke Guillotine · · Pinedale, WY · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 210

If you pitch out the NE Face, it's gonna be a long day. Link as much of the easy stuff as possible on the NE Face and simul the E Ridge. Also, rapping off the S Face, not the S Buttress, will save you a lot of time. There are stations set up that will get you down the S Face, but be wary of some big flakes where the rope may get hung up. The nice thing about this descent is that it drops you into the col between Pingora and Tiger Tower. A few short raps off Tiger Tower will place you right at the beginning of the E Ridge. Keep in mind the descent off the backside of Wolfs Head can be spicy with snow on it. Last I heard, there was still some hold over on the descent route but that was four or five days ago. If you try to do it car-to-car, coming off the backside and hiking out the Shadow Lake drainage would be awesome, but you would definitely be hiking on the trail in the dark. Either way, the mileage coming out is about the same. Good luck!

Arlo F Niederer · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 460

Royal Robbins did a traverse of the cirque in the early 70's starting on Pingora (but not via NE face) and ending on Warbonnet. I think it took them about 12 hours. It's described in the old Bonney guide if you have access and I remember Royal doing an entry in the AAJ too.

The suggestion to hike out via Shadow Lake might have merit this year after a heavy snowfall winter.   Usually, people cross over Wolf's Head-Overhanging Tower col to get back to a camp on the Lonesome Lake side. The snow can be scary and downright dangerous without an ice ax if the snow is firm.   If it's just scree it's still a pain in the butt. Going out the Shadow Lake side is 1.5 - 2 miles farther than the Big Sandy side.

If you enter and exit via Big Sandy you are looking at 17 miles of hiking and 19 if you enter Big Sandy and exit Shadow Lake. I don't know how fast you hike but that's quite a few hours of just hiking.

I have seen at least 4 parties not make it to the top of the NE face by nightfall. However, your ticks show that you are a strong climber so perhaps this is not an issue.

The descent off the west side of Wolf's Head is not trivial and takes good routefinding - perhaps it has a few cairns since the last time I climbed it which was a while ago. I wouldn't want to do this for the first time in the dark!

I would give you a better chance of pulling this off cleanly if you were familiar with the routes and descent.

Also, if you are coming from Texas don't underestimate how much the altitude will kick your butt! What you propose is a long, grueling day even if you are fit and acclimated.

Good luck and I hope you are successful!

Gee Double · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 2,264

Decent mission, 12 hours, cirque to cirque....car2car, jingus....

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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