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Ice dams be damned

ASPEN ” I skied with my daughter at Aspen Mountain on Saturday, enjoying the first sunny day in what seemed like an eternity.

I was thinking to myself, “I can’t think of a better place on the planet to be than on the Lift 1A side of Ajax with snow conditions like these.” But after a few hours of skiing, a little voice inside my head began saying, “You’ve got to save your house, you’ve got to save your house.”

The nagging wouldn’t stop. So after one last run down Norway, we called it quits at 2 p.m. and headed downvalley, where mammoth ice dams on the edge of all roof pitches awaited.

I probably had quite a bit of snow on my roof during the winter of 1995 and assorted other times, but I cannot remember this much snow combined with a sustained cold period. Usually the snow melts off the roofs of houses in the banana belt. Not this winter. The ice ridges on the north-sloping aspects of my roof look like perfect replicas of Hoover Dam.

So, when the weather finally warmed up last weekend, I prepared for battle. Despite the great skiing conditions, I couldn’t stop worrying about melting water penetrating our roof, soaking insulation and ruining sheet rock. It didn’t help when we shared a chairlift ride with a homeowner from West Buttermilk who told a horror story about water pouring through his light fixtures.

Once home, I attacked the ice dams with a vengeance. Those on the southerly roof aspects broke apart with little problem. My spirits soared when the drips in my garage stopped as the water once again rolled off the roof.

Alas, my luck ran out on the north side of the house. Herculean blows with a hammer barely even chipped those damned dams. So, I cut short a ski tour on Basalt Mountain on Sunday for another skirmish. I wielded hammer and chisel and carefully whacked away again. Patience paid off by removing 2 inches of the dams closest to the roof’s edge.

I don’t know if I “saved” my house, but I’ve done what I could. Hopefully I won’t hear any more nagging voices while enjoying the terrain off Lift 1A.

Snowmass, Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands all received 2 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Wednesday morning snow report. Buttermilk picked up 1 inch.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Wednesday, Feb. 13:

The avalanche danger for the Aspen zone is rated considerable on slopes facing north through east through south near and above treeline. You will find pockets of considerable danger in steep cross-loaded or wind-loaded areas of slopes facing northwest, west, and southwest at these higher elevations. Below treeline today, expect to find moderate avalanche danger on all aspects. Extra caution will be required on those slopes facing southwest, south, and southeast where triggered avalanches have the potential to fail in deeper weak layers.

Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/ for the full report and information on conditions statewide.


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