Tom Ross: Who shovels for plowers? |

Tom Ross: Who shovels for plowers?

Incessant storms lay seige to Yampa Valley Households

Steamboat Springs — There are three distinct types of people in Routt County this morning. Which are you? — There are three distinct types of people in Routt County this morning. Which are you?

— There are three distinct types of people in Routt County this morning. Which are you?

There are people who don’t concern themselves with removing snow from their driveways because they don’t have a driveway – they have a parking lot. They are the fortunate few. A friendly snowplow operator arrives at 3 a.m. to push the latest 12-inch dump out of the way. Unfortunately, the snowplow has a startlingly loud back-up warning signal that emits a “beep-beep-beep” every time the plow is put in reverse. You can spot parking lot people at work because they have a nervous twitch.

At some high-end addresses, a heating element embedded in the concrete melts the snow in residential parking lots and sends it on its way into the storm drain. This practice represents a terrible waste of precious fossil fuels and undermines the war effort. However, it does serve the purpose of eliminating the snowplow back-up warning beeper.

People in the second group pay someone to plow the snow out of their driveways. They don’t have to exert themselves except to shovel off their piddly little front stoops. However, every time they flip on the deck light at 10 p.m. and see snowflakes the size of feathers falling out of the heavens, they also see $20 bills disappearing into the sky. Even if they are skiers, members of this group are having a difficult time praying for more snow this week.

The third group of people comprises the soldiers in the do-it-yourself army. They are gallant warriors who tug on coveralls and snow boots every morning, gather up their fearsome weapons and wade out into the billowing drifts to do battle before breakfast.

Recommended Stories For You

I belong to the latter.

People who intend to tackle snow removal on their own in this climate need to own at least six implements. First and foremost, they need a snowblower that starts dependably – after 12 years of heavy use; mine started on the first pull back in October. My snowblower’s name is Charlemagne.

Second, you must have two snow shovels – one for the front of your house and one for the back deck. This may seem like a luxury, but a few more weeks of this incessant snowfall, and you won’t be able to walk around the house to shovel the deck. And you don’t want to carry a snowy shovel through the house.

Another useful weapon, err, implement, is a sturdy push broom for those cursed half-inch snowstorms that tend to build up and turn into ice in the driveway. I had a good broom entering the winter, but I carelessly left it leaning in the frame of the garage door. When I hit the button to close the garage door, it jammed the metal handle and bent it in the middle. I snapped it off and wedged the stub of the broom end in one of the holes in the rail of my old pickup. Now I have the manliest windshield brush in the valley, and everyone knows it.

Another item you must have is a thin-bladed but sturdy ice scraper for the driveway. You can get by with a garden shovel, but serious snow removal technicians purchase a tool that resembles a long-handled cold chisel made of about 20 pounds of high molybdenum steel. Come March, you will take great satisfaction in ice-busting.

Finally, as we learned Thursday, snowblowers are not prepared to handle 14 inches of slush. The glop that fell on the first day of the month was perfect for solidifying the base on the ski trails. However, that kind of snow clogs the auger of your snowblower. After work Thursday, I drove to the hardware store and purchased a large Swedish snow scoop.

I used the scoop to shove all of the slush into a giant pile in the front yard. It’s about 7 feet high, and I have named it Slayton Peak after my great-grandfather. If Congressman Salazar will endorse the effort, I intend to submit the name “Slayton Peak” to Congress next session for inclusion in official U.S. Forest Service maps of the region.

I was relieved to awaken Friday morning and learn that the city’s road grader, which uses its giant wing to scrape snow off the road shoulder, had not pushed all of that slush into the entrance to my driveway. It was going to be a back breaker, but the operator lifted his wing at the last moment and spared me. All the smiling and waving I’ve done the past month surely must have paid off.

I want to leave you with this thought: Have you ever wondered who clears the snow out of the driveways of snowplow operators? Do their spouses go into battle for them? Or do those poor devils go home after a long shift and fire up their own snowblowers?

It’s going to be a long winter, for snowplow operators and the rest of us.