The initial challenge was getting the lawn tractor and the John Deere commercial lawn mower over to the old house, where they would serve as mobile anchors for the safety rope. Unfortunately, the lawn tractor proved very reluctant to start. After much fussing, it finally did start -- but then it would not move, due to a slipped belt. Rather than spend all day disassembling it to fix the belt, Lisa decided to use the John Deere to tow the tractor to the old house. She drove the lawn mower with me perched on top of the non-functional tractor and towed me over to the old house. She then put the lawn mower on the other side of the house and used the "Messenger rope" that we leave hanging up there all of the time to guide the heavy main rope over the top of the house.
With the safety rope tied off to the heavy equipment, we raised the first ladder up to the edge of the roof. Lisa donned her safety harness. I helped her guide the upper ladder onto the edge of the roof. She then climbed up the rope, tying loops in it at intervals and tying off the safety straps to the rope. Once at the peak of the roof, she hauled the second ladder to the top.
When we say "up on the roof," we're talking pretty high in the air. That house is a two-story-plus-full-attic monster, with a steeply-pitched roof. Here you see Lisa after she hauled the second ladder to the peak of the roof.
The roof may be steep, but it does not shed moss. Lisa is holding the rake with which she will attempt to remove as much of the moss as possible. You may also be able to see the indentations in the roof that show holes and weak spots in the roof. Some of the holes are quite large.
Relying solely on the safety lines, Lisa began scraping moss. Sometimes this also removed weak, rotting shingles. The masses of shingles and moss slid down the roof and to the ground below. I, wisely, stayed far back away from the house. My first job was to send tools up to the roof upon request. My second was to keep an eye out and affect a rescue if needed or summon an ambulance if necessary. Without me there, Lisa wouldn't have dared do this job; it's too dangerous to work alone in these circumstances.
Thanks to the delays with equipment in the morning, Lisa wasn't able to work as long in the morning session as she would have liked before coming down from the roof for lunch and recovery for an hour or so. On her second trip up, she hauled a long electrical extension cord and a leaf blower, which helped remove the older, loose moss from the areas she couldn't easily reach. That moss is stubborn stuff, however.
After a couple more hours of debris removal, including a stint on the other side of the house (I took no photos on that side), Lisa examined the chimney, which she capped off a couple of years ago. The cap was gone. It must have blown off in a storm. She told me to send up rolls of plastic sheeting and duct tape. I'm not very good with knots, so it took me a while to get the rolls of plastic tied off sufficiently for her to raise them to the roof on the messenger rope, but that may be just as well, because it gave her a chance to take a breather sitting on the peak of the roof. Examining the worn spots on my gloves from where the messenger rope abraded it as she hauled away, I found myself very happy to have had gloves for this work. Unfortunately for Lisa, her light rubber gloves tore away halfway through, and they were the last pair we had in stock.
Lisa wrapped the chimney -- top and side -- with plastic and taped it into place. This led to an uncomfortable moment when, while passing the roll of tape around the chimney, she dropped it and couldn't reach it. You can't skip around nimbly when you're more than ten meters off the ground on a slippery roof, even with a safety line. Eventually she was able to retrieve it.
Then it was time for more sheets of plastic and a heavy-duty construction stapler. The minor harm caused by staple holes was nothing compared to the major damage the large holes have been wreaking on the house. Lisa laid down several sheets of plastic and stapled them over the worst of the holes.
By this time the sun was heading for the horizon, and I was starting to worry. I knew it would take a while to take down all of the equipment we had erected. None too soon, Lisa sent the loose bits of equipment back to the ground, lowered the roof ladder to me, and then came down herself. After freeing herself from the safety harness, she untied the safety line and we looped it back onto its carrier -- a board that Lisa cleverly cut to act as a spool for the rope and allow us to easily transport the heavy, 75-meter rigging rope. Working as quickly as we could in the failing light, we moved the tractor and lawn mower back to their shed, carried the ladders and stored them and the other equipment, and headed back to our trailer.
As we were removing the ladders, Lisa remembered that she'd left the roll of tape on top of the chimney. She decided that it could stay there. She wasn't going back up on that roof for anything. And considering how close we cut the time before we ran out of light, I think she made the right call.
Lisa was exhausted and shaking from the stress of spending more than six hours up on the roof. I wasn't much better myself, for all that I spent a lot of time sitting, watching, and waiting to be summoned to fetch tools. Lisa reassures me that I was a valuable team member, for without me, she would have had to keep going up and down to get the right tools and parts. She says she never would have even tried without me there.
The full set of photos from the day on the roof are on my Flickr site.
After a very long day, Lisa sent me over to Lyons to fetch a pizza for dinner, and I gladly obliged. After dinner, I left her to get cleaned up while I went to her father's house to get work from my paying job done.