Located in the southern end of the massive Wind Rivers wilderness area, the Cirque of the Towers is an alpine circle of cliffs and mountains carved by glaciers sometime in the last ice age. This amazing area is fairly remote (ie not many roads), but is only a couple of hours off of I-80 out of Rock Springs Wyoming.
The Cirque of the Towers is mostly famous because of its rock climbing
. The cirque is filled with spires and towers of granite, all with massive vertical cliffs (1000 ft+) that line the inside of the cirque. The most famous of the climbs are Pingora
climb) and the nearby Wolfs Head
is a massive knob that rises out of the center of the cirque to dominate the view from everywhere. Wolfs Head
is on the ridge that connects Pingora
to the outside rim of the cirque.
My dad said climbing Wolfs Head
was interesting, as it really should be harder than a 5.6 climb. The extreme exposure is incredible, but more incredible is the near perfect positioning of handholds and footholds. Where you need one, there is one and not a single knob more than that. Pingora
is truly spectacular climb in every sense of the word, and both climbs are included in the “Fifty Classic Climbs of North America
The cirque is a very popular spot for climbers and weekend enthusiasts. I recommend not camping in the cirque as it tends to be a bit too popular, and instead travel along its river outwash and camp at a lake several miles away. To hike the quickest way in it’s around 10 miles one way, which can be done in a single long day. Backpacks are a burden, mainly because rock climbing requires many pounds of extra equipment. Llamas and horses frequent the trails of the region, and even the occasional pack-goats can be found.
I recommend hiking through the cirque, as it is very beautiful, and the cliffs are awe inspiring. If you feel like climbing a mountain on the edge of the cirque for a better view, Mt Mitchell
is located to the left of the main trail off of Jackass Pass
, on the route in from Big Sandy
(the main entrance point/campground) and is only about a 4-5 hour climb. My group
decided to leave a day early for pizza and a shower
instead of climbing it, but go with what feels good!
The cirque isn’t for those who seek solitude, but rather those in search of breathtaking views or famous climbs. Solitude comes easier the further away from the cirque you get, even a day hike down the valley will drastically reduce the number of campers you encounter.