A regression model calibrated on 23 cirques from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, south-central Colorado, suggests that local-scale climatic controls interact with geologic materials to explain intramountain variation to cirque development. Topoclimatic effects maximize cirque development on ridges that project well above the Pleistocene glaciation limit, and in positions that minimize total radiation receipt. If an optimum topoclimate coincides with densely jointed (erosible) bedrock materials, cirque development will be at a maximum. However, cirque development can be deceptively poor in situations where a favorable topoclimate coincides with massive (sparsely jointed) bedrock materials. The interaction between local-scale climatic–geologic controls subsumes their independent effects. Significant correlation between cirque development and an individual process control may not emerge due to complications produced by one or more other controls.