Oliver Pattison

documentary photography

Pikes Peak A-Frame repair project

In summer 2022, a group of volunteers with Colorado Mountain Club set out to repair the A-Frame shelter on Barr Trail, the 12.5 mile trail that winds from Manitou Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak (also known as Tava or “mountain of the sun”, according to the Ute People of the Front Range). This is my document of their work.

people working on a construction scene at the Pikes Peak A-Frame
a sunrise view of Almagre Peak from the summit
donuts and coffee at the summit house
tying boots before the hike
talking through the project
a view of the summit house on the top of Pikes Peak
silhouettes of volunteers on the summit at sunrise
volunteers balancing their heavy loads before starting
a portrait of hiker in early morning light on top of a mountain
pausing with a heavy load of roof tiles on the trail
melting ice on the rocky trail
a hiker walking past the Barr Trail dedication sign to Fred Barr
volunteers carrying materials on Barr Trail
a distant view of hikers on Barr Trail with tall rocks surrounding
a smiling volunteer carrying a new support pole on Barr Trail
footsteps in motion on Barr Trail
a sign on Barr Trail marking 2 miles to the summit
sign on the A-Frame MAINTAINED FOR US FOREST SERVICE BY PIKES PEAK GROUP COLORADO MOUNTAIN CLUB
a side view of the old A-Frame shelter support poles
a close view of the rotting old A-Frame shelter support poles
working inside the A-Frame shelter
a foot on a ladder inside the A-Frame shelter
a smiling person peeking over the roof of the Pikes Peak A-Frame
discussing the construction job, next to the A-Frame
throwing off an old section of roof
people working on a construction scene at the Pikes Peak A-Frame
handing off a tool from someone on the ground to someone standing on the edge of the roof
cutting through an old support for the roof with a saw
a photographic guide to the construction effort showing areas that need work
a man turning to smile at those working around him
cutting through a support for the a-frame structure with a saw
finishing cutting through a support for the a-frame structure
carrying sections of roof
hammering in the edge of the roof
cutting a section of roof
a final view of the volunteers at the A-Frame shelter

The A-Frame shelter is a special place. Marking the tree line on Barr Trail, this spot has a scenic view of downtown Colorado Springs, and is a safe resting point before the final climb to the summit of Pikes Peak. Whenever I hike here, I almost always take a stop here to refill water at the creek, and to reflect on the hike ahead. Along with Barr Camp, this refuge for camping and picnicking makes Barr Trail one of the most hospitable and friendly fourteener trails in Colorado.

I took on this project as a part of my interest in documenting Barr Trail and its rich social life. It was impressive to see these volunteers from Colorado Springs and beyond come together to maintain and repair the A-Frame. Since 1964, the shelter has been maintained by the US Forest Service, and since 1999, Colorado Mountain Club has taken on the responsibility, including rebuilding the roof and repainting the shelter in 2008. In summer 2022, 37 volunteers returned for this multi-weekend project.

Bringing construction materials down by foot from the Pikes Peak summit is a massive amount of work. There is no way to bring a vehicle to this point on the trail so these volunteers carried half a ton of materials down the mountain – three and a half miles down over 2000 feet of elevation. Volunteers worked together to repaint the interior, remove the existing roof, install the new roof, and replace the wooden supports.