Peak(s):  Pikes Peak  -  14,109 feet
"Little Pikes Peak"  -  13,363 feet
"Devils Playground Peak"  -  13,070 feet
Date Posted:  01/22/2020
Date Climbed:   01/11/2020
Author:  supranihilest
 BIG PIKES, "little pikes": A Pretty Cool Trip Report About Some Pretty Cool Rocks   

Welcome to the first edition of the Pretty Cool Trip Report Series©®™ which hopefully, for the sake of everyone's sanity, will also be the last edition of the Pretty Cool Trip Report Series©®™. In this pretty cool trip report I'll be reporting about three pretty cool peaks, Pikes Peak (BIG PIKES), "Little Pikes Peak" ("little pikes"), and "Devil's Playground Peak", the latter of which is barely worthy of the distinction of being called a peak and which I will almost completely ignore in the course of this pretty cool trip report.

Pikes Peak is a pretty cool rock in a pretty cool place called Colorado Springs. The mountain is named after a pretty cool guy, Zebulon Pike, who lived in a pretty cool time and did some pretty cool things like explore Louisiana (assuredly a pretty cool place) and the southern Rocky Mountains. He also did some pretty uncool things, like get captured by the Spanish, but he lived to tell the tale and lives on in the hearts and minds of every red-blooded American patriot through his namesake peak, Pikes Peak, America's Mountain©®™. Pikes Peak is pretty cool monarch of the mountains, towering above everything in its vicinity. Aside from some pretty cool technical routes on its north face Pikes is known for its long hikes, a cog railway to its summit, and a pretty cool road, also to its summit. This road is pretty cool because it lets tourists drive their lifted, shining spotless F-9001 Farm God pickup truck with flame details and tank treads to the summit and claim that they are pretty super-mega badasses for conquering a 14er. Eat your heart out, guys.

In the winter Pikes becomes pretty hard, like most winter peaks. Its most popular route, the Barr Trail, becomes pretty much even more of a sufferfest and most people change routes to the northwest slopes. The road also pretty much shuts down. As it turns out F-9001s can fly in high winds and deep snow, and so to save bald eagle tears and vast wasted natural resources they close the road. Pretty cool fact, I'm sure you'll agree. OK, so I totally made that up. Pretty uncool, me. I drove down the morning of my pretty cool climb and as I drove I got this pretty uncool forecast.

Holy crap.

When I arrived at the trailhead I was greeted by a literally pretty cool temperature of -1°F. As I left my car on a pretty good trench I quickly got warm. My fingers remained numb for about five minutes, and then caught up with the program pretty much known as "not being frozen". I stripped my jacket off as I kept trudging, and it only took me about 20 minutes to reach the actual trailhead. A pretty cool sign pointed the way to some pretty cool places.

Pretty cool.
Pretty good.

I continued on the trench, which was really pretty good, and made good progress. I had left my snowshoes in my car and wore my microspikes instead, which meant I could maintain a pretty good clip the whole way. I passed another hiker and neared treeline as the sun rose.

A MOUNTAIN! Holy crap! But this is not Pikes Peak. It is merely an open slope miles from Pikes Peak. I apologize for the pretty uncool deception.

The views as I climbed the pretty numerous switchbacks were pretty good.

The Sangre de Cristo are pretty pretty.
Some pretty cool rocks with a pretty cool space rock.

As treeline came so too did the pretty cool winds. I'm sorry, that was also a deception. They were pretty cool and pretty uncool. You know how it goes.

Trees growing pretty much at random.

The trench pretty much petered out at treeline, and then I was alone, pretty much just me and the mountain. An open, pretty featureless slope kept me company as I ascended.

Pretty featureless.
Some pretty cool rocks.

As I topped out on the flats of the upper ridge things got pretty real. Winds were pretty high. Temperatures were pretty low. Who knew these things could happen in winter? Pretty much everybody, that's who.

Holy crap. Hell hath frozen over. "Devil's Playground Peak" is on the left with "little pikes" and BIG PIKES in the center.

On top of the ridge were some pretty cool rocks. Pikes Peak is a pretty large granitic pluton and, according to Wikipedia, is made up of Pikes Peak granite, "a coarse-grained pink to light red syenogranite with minor gray monzogranite." Those are some pretty big words that I pretty much don't understand in the least to say that Pikes is one big pretty cool rock. That's your science lesson for the day, on to some pictures of pretty cool rocks.

Some pretty cool rocks.
Some pretty cool rocks.

The trail from this point was easy to follow. It was covered in snow but the snow was pretty much packed into rock hard chunks that I could simply walk across it without much effort. I took off my microspikes so I wouldn't pretty much grind them to dust on the rock.

Thanks, pretty cool space laser, for blasting a pretty cool trail for me.
Some pretty cool rocks.

Weaving through outcrops of the pretty cool Pikes Peak granite I eventually hit the road. This was pretty cool. The trail continued on a more direct path but was pretty snowy so I decided to take the road for a while and see where it led. This proved to be a pretty good choice, because not only did I not get flattened by tourists but I was able to move pretty quickly on the road despite the weather, which by now was pretty much terrible. I hadn't been in weather conditions that warranted I wear a face mask in a long time but my face was pretty much an ice cube without it.

No pretty cool rocks here, folks.
"little pikes" in center with BIG PIKES behind. Other peaks are not named. As much as I rag on tourists it is pretty cool that they have the opportunity to visit such a special and pretty cool place.
Ptarmigan are some pretty cool birds. Oh, and it's pronounced ptarmigan, not ptarmigan, geez.

Tracking the road as it snaked up the peak I came to the bottom of "little pikes"' north slopes. I had apparently pretty much completely missed "Devil's Playground Peak" on the ascent. Oh well, I'll get it on the way down. "little pikes" has around 200 feet of prominence. It'd be pretty easy. I jumped the plowed embankment and went up.

Some pretty snowy rocks.

"little pikes" didn't take pretty much any time. The snow posed no barrier or deterrent. Mere minutes after starting up I was, in fact, up.

Some pretty cool rocks on the summit of "little pikes".

"little pikes" was pretty much not worth it, though the views of BIG PIKES were pretty impressive. As for a peak of its own though it was pretty meh. Oh well. A little more elevation gain pretty much never hurts.

Holy crap.

I descended "little pikes"' south slopes and almost immediately punched into the snow and whacked pretty much the hell out of my knee on a rock. That was pretty not fun. After extricating myself from the hole I encountered rock hard snow slabs that were pretty much like climbing on glass. My boots had pretty much no traction. I traversed east and into some rocks so I wouldn't slide down the slope. Once I reached the bottom I limped over to the road and hiked on it until I was under BIG PIKES' northwest corner, if one can call it a corner. It was pretty much just a rounded heap of pretty cool rock, after all. Those don't have corners.

Pretty nondescript.
Some pretty cool rocks.

I ascended the boulders pretty much directly until I located cairns, and many of them. They were all over the place. It turns out that people climb mountains, including this one. I thought I was pretty much the only one on the entire planet. The trail up BIG PIKES was pretty amazing, honestly, well done and thanks Mother Nature for building a trail and all those cairns just for me. While the switchbacks seemed pretty much endless they weren't totally monotonous like I'd experienced on the Barr Trail a couple of times. I had to be pretty careful since the rock was extremely slick with unconsolidated powder and advection frost.

Some pretty cool rocks covered in pretty cool lil' frostie wosties.

I cruised along the trail happy for the speed I could make on flatter and easier terrain, even if it was longer than simply ascending in a pretty much direct line. Near the summit I abandoned the trail and did make that pretty much direct ascent, at least for a short while, crossing the road one final time and going up and over a guardrail to reach the pretty much flat and broad summit plateau. The summit plateau was a mess of construction. Not pretty much a mess. A complete and utter, total, all-consuming mess. OK, not quite that bad either. But there was a lot of it, and I was surprised to see some engineers driving around up there. How did I know they were engineers? It said so pretty much right on the side of their truck. Not pretty much in this case, either. Directly on the side of their truck.

Not the truck. Not even A truck, in fact.

I sauntered through the construction site and over to the summit sign. The sign I didn't drive up to. Go me.

Not as many snotsickles as I had hoped for, which makes for a weak summit selfie game.

Shortly after I arrived so did another hiker - Bill (climbingcue) - who had finished his 58 list with the day's summit of Pikes. Way to get after it and have such a strong finisher, Bill!

With pretty much nothing left to do on the summit but suffer in the extreme winds I didn't wait long. The summit visitor's center was pretty much closed, so no refuge there. No pretty much, either. It was definitely closed. Binary states and all. In the minute or two it took me to take a summit selfie I had gotten cold, so getting a move on was the only way I'd regain that heat. I had pretty much the same thought process on my descent as I had on my ascent - skip the trail and descend directly - but once again found the trail faster and easier than the obnoxious boulders.

Pretty much an endless ridge. "little pikes" is in the center and "Devil's PLayground Peak" can barrrrreelly be made out just to the upper left of the large, craggy wall on the right.

I took the road to the base of "little pikes" once again, but this time I decided to cut east on the trail instead of take the road. Don't ask me why. My brain was pretty much a tub of frozen yogurt at that point. It was perhaps a bit more difficult but ultimately shorter than the road and I didn't want to reascend "little pikes".

"little pikes" with the trail to the right.

When I got back to where the trail pretty much met the road (actually pretty much this time, because they got close but did not touch) I met up with my friend Whiley, who had come up later and braved the heinous weather to nab the 13ers. We hiked back together and I was glad to have the company of a pretty cool human being, as well as the usual pretty cool rocks.

Some pretty cool rocks.
Guess what these are! If you guessed some pretty cool rocks, that would be wrong. These are some pretty cool rocks.

We scooted along the road attempting to keep warm and bundled pretty much to the gills, if humans had gills, that is. Maybe bundled to the nines, to pretty much butcher another phrase. Humans don't have nines, either, I'm pretty sorry to report. I still had "Devil's Playground Peak" to climb since I had pretty much completely forgotten about its very existence on my way up, and so Whiley and I split at that point and we agreed I'd catch up to her later after getting the most unworthy 13er yet. Seriously, it has pretty much seven feet of prominence, what the heck. OK, sorry, 140 feet of prominence, not going to apologize for this deception, because besides having some pretty cool rocks on the summit this really is not a peak worthy of distinction in any regard.

Well uh... it exists. Yahoo.
Some pretty cool rocks. That flat rock stacked in the middle is the summit, so that's pretty cool.

It took me approximately ten whole minutes from the road to the summit. No peak should take only ten minutes to ascend, come on now. OK, enough complaining. There were a couple of fun Class 2+ moves going down a set of tiered ledges on the northwest side of the peak and then the fun for the day was pretty much over. Time to pretty much bolt as fast as I can in my mountain boots for the relative shelter of treeline.

Pretty much the way down.

The winds continued unabated, once again my constant companion on the mountain. I was feeling surprisingly good though despite the savage weather and size of the day. I'd actually enjoyed how awful a lot of it was. Fellow mountaineers, you all know how I feel. All in all it was a pretty good day. I marched past more pretty cool rocks and into the open tundra below the excitement.

Some pretty cool rocks.
Some pretty cool rocks.

The multiple sets of tracks broken earlier in the day had all been pretty much filled in by the wind-lifted snow. It wasn't until I was pretty much right at treeline that I found the good trench again.

If I didn't know any better I'd say this is the way to go.

Within minutes of entering the forest I was pretty much sweltering. I stopped and took off my shell and insulating jacket, facemask, and ice climbing gloves, which I switched for windproof liners. I ate some food and slammed pretty much an entire liter of ice cold water. It felt damn good. Once I'd had my fill I threw my pack back on and raced down the hill. I hadn't found Whiley and wanted to catch up so we wouldn't be doing the most boring and tedious part of the day simultaneously separate. A mile or so from the Crags Campground we met again, completing the death march shortly after. It was pretty much a great day. And I've only used the word "pretty" and the words "pretty much" and "pretty cool" 140, 49, and 59 times, respectively, in this Pretty Cool Trip Report©®™. 141 times saying pretty now. Pretty cool, huh? No? These words have ceased to have pretty much any meaning? Well, shucks. Back to your pretty much regularly scheduled programming.


Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself)
Trailhead: Crags Campground, winter closure (1.2 miles down from campground)
Total distance: 16.61 miles
Total elevation gain: 5,343 feet
Total time: 8:24:25
Peaks: One 14er, two unranked thirteeners

  • "Little Pikes Peak", 13,363'
  • Pikes Peak, 14,110'
  • "Devil's Playground Peak", 13,070'


Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
Crags Campground (winter closure) Crags Campground 0:22:51 0:22:51 0:00
Crags Campground "Little Pikes Peak" 3:14:50 3:37:41 0:00
"Little Pikes Peak" Pikes Peak 1:10:21 4:48:02 0:00
Pikes Peak "Devil's Playground Peak" 1:30:14 6:18:16 0:00
"Devil's Playground Peak" Crags Campground (winter closure) 2:06:09 8:24:25 Trip End

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

Comments or Questions
Neat trip report
01/22/2020 18:21
A lifted, shining spotless F-9001 Farm God pickup truck with flame details and tank treads does sound pretty cool!
But make it a Tacoma and add a 20 inch lift kit, roll bar, and allllll the LED light bars to blind any & every living creature to make it pretty much cooler.

Tanks are for peasants
01/23/2020 14:43
This is my daily driver, get out the way you pitiful frauds in your F-9001s.

Nukes are for Nerds!
01/23/2020 16:16
My daily driver - one of the last of the oil burner carriers (and I was aboard her when this picture was taken inn 1971)

PS - Pretty cool report!

You win
01/23/2020 17:34
@Jay: Hahaha, you crack me up dude. A Navy man, eh? I'm impressed, that's not a piece of machinery to take lightly. Cool you were on her when that picture was taken too! You'll have to regale me with tales of your sailing days when we do Skywalker and the Arapaho traverse later this year - I still haven't forgotten about my promise to do that with you! Thanks as always for reading, you're a pretty cool guy. ðŸŽ

01/23/2020 19:13
You're the cool one, Ben. I'm just an old guy...

You're too kind
01/24/2020 10:39

Cold and Windy day
01/28/2020 06:24

Nice trip report, it was nice to chat on the summit with you that day...


   Not registered?

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.

© 2023®, 14ers Inc.