Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 42.78060°N / 109.2322°W
Activities Activities: Mountaineering, Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Elevation: 12165 ft / 3708 m
Sign the Climber's Log


View of Pingora and Wolf s...

Wolfs Head is a narrow, ridge-like formation located within the heart of the Cirque Of The Towers in Wyoming's Wind River Mountains. Specifically, this fin-shaped mountain lies within a triangle formed by Pingora (11884 feet), Bollinger Peak (12232 feet), and Overhanging Tower (12164 feet). The peak derives its name from lupine-like shape of its tallest gendarme when viewed from Shadow Lake. In addition to its ultraclassic East Ridge route, Kelsey's guidebook lists seven other routes on this mountain (all technical) ranging in difficulty from the 5.0 rated West Face to a 5.10+ South Face, Center route. The rock quality on most of the mountain is (acc. to Kelsey) high quality granite.

Great climbing in the Cirque of the Towers, WYLocal Group (S. Abegg photo)

Getting There

Wolfs Head
Penelope May-Smrz on the wonderful...
Cirque Of Towers
South Face Of Wolfs Head

Alan Ellis has done an excellent job of describing the "normal" (as in the shortest and the most popular) approach to The Cirque on his Cirque Of The Towers page. Directions to trailhead as well as hiking directions are included in great detail. We have used these (exclusively) and had no issues.

Whether you're doing the East Ridge route or several of the more techincal routes on the south face of Wolfs Head the approach is very similar (except for last few, obvious hundred yards). Once over Jackass Pass and in The Cirque, hike up towards the obvious gentle, boulder covered slopes beneath the south/southeast face of Pingora. You're heading straight for the south face of Wolfs Head (clearly visible from most points in "downtown Cirque"). If you're lucky, you'll pick up a nice climbers' trail. The trail tends to stay on the right of this gentle slope but vanishes intermittently in the boulder fields. It becomes more pronounced higher up you go. In other words, the trail shadows the south buttress of Pingora on its immediate west side. If you can't find this trail, don't worry. This particular boulder-hopping exercise is not that bad. You'll probably see the trail on descent (at least half of the work will be easier).

Red Tape

starting up the exposed east...
Airy traverse

There are no permits to park at the trailhead and no permits required for overnight stays in the Cirque (or Wind Rivers in general). However, due to its overuse ("contamination with human fecal matter"), camping within 0.25 miles of Lonesome Lake is now prohibited. Additionally, stay 200 feet away from water sources when picking your campsite.

As a bonus, you might consider packing up and taking out your solid waste. It's really not a big deal and you'll feel like a hero for doing your part to clean up The Cirque. The fact that grazing at large seems to be allowed in the area offers a counter-argument to this point. It's your call.

When To Climb

East Ridge
starting up the exposed east...

Standard "alpine season" for western US applies: June - September are optimal. Outside this frame, extra time/effort/committment might be required to access and climb in The Cirque.

Note that "afternoon" thunderstorms are the norm here. "Afternoon" varies from about 2pm to about 7pm (to about never on some days I suppose). During our 5 day stay in August, we got hosed on a regular basis every day (and on few lucky days twice a day!).


East Ridge

See "Red Tape" section above. No permits required. Don't camp within 0.25 miles of Lonesome Lake. Otherwise, keep more than 200 feet away from other water sources. Practice low impact back country behavior. The area (Cirque) is reputed to have bears. There are certainly marmots and rodents. In the least you should hang your food off the ground - might consider brining a bear canister (think of it as a good additional work out on your way in/out :)

Car camping is available at the Big Sandy trailhead campground for $8.00/night from June 20 to September 10. There is no fee before or after those dates. There are 12 sites with pit toilets, no water and no showers. Check here for other Forest Service campgrounds in the area. This information was copied from Alan Ellis' Cirque Of The Towers page.

Mountain Conditions

Alasdair on the thin part of...

Cirque Of The Towers is located within the Bridger Wilderness of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The relevant administrative office is located in Pinedale, WY:

Bridger Teton National Forest
Pinedale Ranger District
29 East Fremont Lake Road
PO Box 220
Pinedale, WY 82941



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.