Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ice climbing, sort of

I expect that more than a few of my former colleagues from the RAF, despite middle age or retirement, still climb ice and snow, or climb alpine and mountaineering routes that include ice and snow.

Those of us that settled down to other kinds of lives have different challenges. I find interesting physical challenges in farming, construction and renewable energy work, and sometimes the things I do even have recognizably similar kinds of physical challenges as the work I used to do as a military mountaineer and mountain rescue troop.

Our porch roof was pretty slick to begin this morning after a cool night with a dusting of new snow. I discovered this after I had stepped out onto it quite confidently, expecting the same kind of footing as yesterday. I beat a careful retreat and advanced again throwing ice-melt crystals before me like some swami with rose petals. That allowed me to walk without skidding off the roof.

If I had skidded off, the consequences may not have been too bad, assuming I hit one of the deeper spots. But I didn't care to risk it.

Then the last of the ice, by now honeycombed with holes from the ice melt crystals I put down last thing yesterday, was chipped off a bit at a time. Only a little roofing came with it. This roofing will need to be replaced this spring now, whether I like it or not. This latest ice dam problem, and my attempts to fix it, has done too much damage.

Then a trench had to be shoveled for the ladder along the front of the porch where the snow was deep. The roof was too slick, still, to do the work from on top, so I decided to work from the ladder.

After that the ice-melt cable could be attached with the clips provided. This was easy enough to do, although I soaked two pairs of gloves through and got cold wet hands doing it.

The ladder was fun. It had to be pounded down into the snow to remain at all stable. At one point I was half-way up and the thing slid sideways and broke a gutter attachment.

Another job to do in the spring.

But a broken gutter, plus a replacement roof that we knew we had to replace at some point anyway, is better than a porch collapsed under several tons of snow and ice.

And I needed the exercise. And next time the snow falls, I can prevent an ice dam just by plugging in the cable.

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