North Cirque of Box Elder Peak as seen from the Pfeifferhorn.
The North Cirque is the most impressive face of Box Elder Peak. Easily seen from mountains along the Alpine Ridge (Lone Peak, Chipman Peak, Bighorn Peak, Pfeifferhorn, White Baldy, Red Baldy, American Fork Twin Peaks), this face is an excellent ski descent or spring snow climb.
Click for the Full Trip Report on my photography website.
The North Cirque terrain is avalanche prone and must be respected accordingly. Only travel this terrain with skill and experience in assessing avalanche conditions.
Total stats for this route.
Deer Creek Approach from American Fork Canyon
One way-distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation gain: 4,651 ft.
Dry Creek Approach from the town of Alpine
One way-distance: 5 miles
Elevation gain: 5,421 ft.
There are two approaches for the North Cirque route:
1. Deer Creek from American Fork Canyon
Take I-15 to the Highland/Alpine Exit, turn east onto UT-92. Continue east on this highway and you will arrive at the mouth of American Fork Canyon. There is a Forest Service Toll Booth and a $6.00 fee for a three-day pass on the road. Continue up American Fork Canyon. Take the first left fork in the road, and go to Tibble Fork Reservoir. During the winter and spring, the road to Granite Flat Campground from Tibble Fork Reservoir is closed, so park at the Reservoir and hike up the road to Granite Flat Campground. The trailhead begins at the campground.
2. Dry Creek from the town of Alpine
Take I-15 to the Highland/Alpine Exit, turn east onto UT-92. Continue east on this highway. Turn left (north) on 5300 West (Alpine Highway). Continue north and 5300 West will become Main Street. Continue north to Pioneer Road and turn right on Pioneer Road (600 North). Pioneer Road will merge with Grove Drive, turn left. Continue on Grove Drive. Grove Drive makes a sharp, 90 degree turn to your right (there are large yellow arrows to recognize the turn). Continue on Grove Drive and the road will transition from asphalt to dirt and finally deadend at a parking lot, with an information board and a trailhead for the Dry Creek Trail.
Looking down the North Cirque from the summit.
Looking up the North Cirque.
Having followed one of the two approaches to the base of the cirque, here are the following route options:
1. Climb the North Ridge to the summit and ski the North Cirque. This option is better for powder or unconsolidated snow conditions. The North Ridge is class 2. We skinned the whole ridge up to the last 100 yards, where ice forced us to pack the skis and boot to the summit. The North Cirque is 40 degrees at the top, 35 degrees near the cliff bands, and 20-30 on the lower apron of the cirque. There is an obvious drainage down the middle-left of the photo (to the right) that provides the safest passage through the cliff bands. You can always spice things up by moving more to the right side of the cirque.
2. Climb the North Cirque directly. This option is better in the late spring or early summer when the snowpack is solid and fully consolidated for easy hiking/climbing. The North Cirque is 40 degrees at the top, 35 degrees near the cliff bands, and 20-30 on the lower apron of the cirque.
Regular gear and avalanche tools. No ropes. The North Ridge does not require axe/crampons for the ascent. Maybe crampons if there has been a lot of ridge wind and sunny weather that would create an icy surface on the upper summit ridge.
Helmet, ice axe, crampons. No rope necessary, just good self-arrest skills.
Here's a link to my Trip Report