Cirque Traverse

Page Type
Wyoming, United States, North America
Route Type:
technical rock climbing, lots of scrambling
Time Required:
One to two days

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Page By:
Cirque Traverse
Created On: May 9, 2003
Last Edited On: May 9, 2003


Approach Cirque from Big Sandy Trailhead as described on main Cirque page.

Route Description

This is an attempt to document a link-up of all the major peaks in the Cirque of Towers: Pingora, Wolf's Head, Overhanging Tower, Shark's Nose, Block Tower, Watchtower, South Watchtower, Warrior 1 and Warbonnet. This link up can be broken into multiple days while camping in the Cirque, but has been done car to car in less than a day. Linking some or all of the peaks is an excellent alpine adventure.

Pingora: Either the South Buttress route (5.6), or the Southwest Face route (5.8-5.9), or a combination of the two (South Buttress into the Southwest Face) allows for maximum climbing and good speed up Pingora. Refer to Joe Kelsey's book for a breakdown of the individual pitches of these routes. Descend the west face of Pingora in 2-3 raps to a small notch/gulley. At the apex of the notch easy 5th class moves will get you onto the ridge that leads to Wolf's Head East ridge route.

Wolf's Head: After climbing the steepest and thinnest ridge section pass the first tower on the north or south to eventually obtain the north side of the second tower. Traverse the second and third towers on the north via ledge and crack systems. Traverse the fourth tower on the south via a good horizontal hand crack. Descend by dowclimbing/rapping to the southwest. Scramble back up the slope to the saddle between Wolf's head and Overhanging Tower.

Overhanging Tower: Scramble up the easy west/northwest face and downclimb the southwest face to the col between Shark's Nose and Overhanging Tower.

Shark's Nose: Can be climbed using either the Northwest Buttress (5.6) or the North Face Right (5.8). The latter would be a scarier solo, if you are trying to move fast. Details about the individual pitches in these routes can be found in Kelsey's book. Descend from the summit (northermost tower) of Shark's Nose by dowclimbing/rapping the Southwest face, constantly angling back up to the notch between Block Tower and Shark's Nose.

Block Tower: Scramble to the summit block and climb one short 5th class pitch (5.7 or 5.8) to the top of Block Tower. Descending from Block Tower to get to the notch between it and Watchtower requires three rappels off of fixed gear. The first two require you to lower yourself over edges to start the rappel. The third should bring you to the notch.

Watchtower: Can be climbed by angling up gullies to the left or right of Watchtower from the notch. Can also be climbed straight on via a few easy (up to 5.6) pitches. The first of which is a nasty, gritty little chimney, just down and left from the top of the notch. The remaining pitches are better, but the rock is still a bit loose.

Watctower-Warbonnet: The remainder of the route requires a lot of hiking and a little 4th/5th class scrambling (especially near the summit of Warbonnet) as you follow the obvious ridge linking the remaining peaks. Descend Warbonnet's South and then Eastern slopes to regain the trail between Big Sandy and the Cirque.

Essential Gear

1 rack (cams to 3.0, a few good nuts), 70m cord (60m will probably do). Sticky approach shoes.

Not a lot of water once you start the link-up. A small lake west of the saddle between South Watchtower and Pylon could be accessed if necessary.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.