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Ice Dam Removal for Ski Resorts & Mountain Towns

Everyone loves a good snow day – heck, we pray for HUGE powder days in these destination mountain towns. However, while most of us are able to retreat to the comforts of the suburbs at the end of the blizzardy day, your favorite ski resort is home to many who live there full-time. For them, the reality of these monster storms is that they experience very harsh winters that are made worse by very heavy ice dams!

This photo is of homes bordering the perimeter of Lake Tahoe in California. It's winter and there are several feet of snow on each home's roof.

Why Ski Towns Have Such An Ice Dam Challenge:

It should come to no surprise that the annual snowfall depths that make these towns so popular are also why they experience some of the country’s worst ice dams. In fact, many of the heaviest ice dams we have ever seen – ones that have collapsed entire roofs, were outside Park City, UT and Tahoe-Donner, CA. Why is that?

  • Continuous Exposure to Heavy Snow: Many of these ski resorts are in areas that face relentless snowfall and freezing temperatures. For example, in California’s High Sierras they can receive over 300 inches of snow per year. That’s 25 feet of snow!! Properties in these areas require daily monitoring for ice dams so they can’t grow into a thousand pound nightmare! It’s because of this monumental snowfall that property owners need to stay vigilant, especially if you’re a vacation rental owner who has inconsistent houseguests.
  • Catering to a Transient Population: Unlike residential properties, ski resorts and vacation rentals cater to guests who are unfamiliar with blizzards, let alone ice dam concerns. They’re in for a few days and gone. This means that your first line of defense, those who exit and enter your property all day, don’t know what to look for. For this reason, it’s very important to communicate what to be observant of so a new ice dam doesn’t go unreported.
  • Preserving Aesthetics: Lots of ski towns can struggle to find the comfy balance between maintaining the picturesque nature of resorts while also implementing practical solutions for ice dam prevention. For this reason, many maintenance activities occur at night, but ice dam removal is best performed during the day. This can become particularly hard to schedule around the insane amount of visitors ski resorts have each day. Sometimes, incorrectly, properties elect to keep guests happy but that inadvertently allows an unsafe ice dam to become a bigger problem. Ideally, you can achieve both, just like avalanche prevention methods, but at the end of the day, safety should prevail.

No matter how busy your property is or what the weather is like, you should have previously discussed different game plans for heavy snowstorms and ice dams. If you can’t prevent them completely, at least be mindful of visitor safety while you’re looking to address the dam.

This photo shows a solid slab of ice over one-foot in depth on a cabin roof. It's an ice dam that will need to be steamed off or the home could risk water leaks or collapsed ceilings.

Proactive Measures for Ice Dam Prevention:

We know that most people won’t learn about an ice dam until they experience one. But in places like these high-elevation ski towns, you need to be proactive and exercise preventative measures.

For example, something we saw firsthand in 2023, was a Tahoe-Donner resident who had his entire second-floor ceiling collapse from the weight of the ice dam on top of his resort property. Unfortunately for him, the snow was past the windows on the first-floor, so when the ceiling collapsed it also shattered the windows below. This caused significant distress for the homeowners inside and it completely exposed them to the snow that now fell inside. Thankfully, they were able to secure the window frames until morning but that’s not a guarantee and it could have been much worse.

To avoid a frightening situation like that, what should you do?

  • Insulation and Ventilation Improvements: Improving insulation and enhancing ventilation is key to maintaining an even roof temperature and preventing the conditions that lead to ice dam formation. This can be more frequent in ski towns because many properties were constructed with logs and/or have wood heated stoves. Both of these traits can be incredibly comfy and charming, but they’re also hard to heat efficiently. That said, even “normal” homes that aren’t log cabins can struggle with effectively heating the space during these ongoing superstorms. Look into a home energy audit when the weather’s warmer to reduce or eliminate attic bypasses.
  • Regular Snow Removal: Especially in areas with heavy snowfall, regularly removing snow from roofs is crucial. This is particularly important in ski resorts and homes where buildings are continuously exposed to snowfall. Doing this is not a young man or woman’s game, so if you’re not physically able to do so, hire this one out. In some cases you can use a roof rake or broom, but if you’ve not had a chance to keep on top of it, they can meet their limits and professional efforts will be required.
  • Professional Assistance: Companies like the Ice Dam Guys® have experience in dealing with ice dams in harsh winter environments, providing professional snow and ice removal services for your roof. We’re fully licensed, bonded, and insured with decades of climbing up and down frozen ladders. Let us take over and you can stay safe and warm inside!

We’re not here to fearmonger and many ice dams are benign pains in the butt that can be removed relatively easily. However, when we do see bad ice dam situations, it’s most often in a place like a mountain town or ski resort. For that reason, we think it’s best to try the above preventative measures vs. waiting to respond in a panic.

This photo appears to be a lodge or resort in the mountains. It has a large stone chimney, several floors, and the roof is currently covered in several feet of snow.

Past Ski Towns the Ice Dam Guys® have worked in:

While it’s certainly not an exhaustive list, we’ve seen the most demand for emergency ice dam removal out west near their famous ski resorts and historic mountain towns.  We’ve removed ice dams from the roof of lodges, homes, and other buildings.

Lake Tahoe
Known for its stunning landscapes and heavy snow, effective ice dam management is vital for the 14 ski resorts on the border of California and Nevada. Ice Dam Guys® has a history of successfully managing ice dams in this region and frequent the communities around the following resorts:

  • Heavenly Mountain Resort
  • Palisades Tahoe (formerly known as Squaw Valley)
  • Kirkwood
  • NorthStar California Resort
  • Sugar Bowl Resort

Thanks to Park City and the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City, Utah has become a popular ski destination that requires diligent ice dam prevention and management due to its snowy climate. Fifteen (15) ski resorts operate locally and a majority of our past work has been near the following skiing communities:

  • Park City Mountain Resort
  • Deer Valley
  • Alta Ski Resort
  • Snowbird
  • Sundance Mountain Resort

Coming in with big-boy numbers, Colorado is home to 32 active ski resorts and most of them can get pounding winters. While the statewide trend is leaning towards drier winters, these high-elevation Rocky Mountains still get solid storms. You can find us most frequently around:

  • Breckenridge
  • Vail Ski Resort
  • Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort
  • Copper Mountain
  • Winter Park

This image appears to show a lodge or complex that's covered in snow and has many icicles from ice dams. What's unique about this image is that the row or chain of icicles go the length of the building which is significant - possibly 50 or more feet.

Ice Dam Removal Experts Available 24/7:

For ski resorts and towns, managing ice dams effectively is crucial for the safety and comfort of guests, as well as preserving the property for permanent residents. Through a combination of preventive measures, regular maintenance, and professional assistance, property owners and operators can ensure a safe and enjoyable winter experience for all.

If you have any questions or need emergency ice dam removal for your ski resort, please call us at 1-800-423-3267 or contact us online. We’re ready to take your call 24/7.

We often experience extreme call volume during peak ice dam season. Therefore, we encourage you to please call us as early as possible.

Mention you read our Ice Dam Awareness: Ski Resorts & Towns and we’ll take 10% off your project!

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