News ID: 280568
Published: 0946 GMT February 12, 2021

Sweden's rooftop snow clearers brave vertigo in white winter

Sweden's rooftop snow clearers brave vertigo in white winter
Rooftop snow remover Andrei Plian works on top of one of Stockholm's Old Town buildings.

With regular snowfalls in recent weeks, rooftop birds in Sweden's capital have ceded their perches to an army of "sweepers" clearing the roofs of snow in the name of safety.

Teetering on the edge of a black tin roof 10 meters (33 feet) above ground, Andrei Plian and Alex Lupu clear a thick white blanket of snow off a building in Stockholm's historic Gamla Stan (Old Town), while their colleague on the street below keeps watch to warn pedestrians passing by, according to AFP.

While to many the job would be vertigo-inducing, for Plian and Lupu — two roofers by trade — it gives them a chance to admire the view.

"Being here on the roof and looking up at the sky, you feel that freedom," Plian told AFP, seemingly ignoring the biting subzero chill.

Secured with ropes, carabiners and a safety harness, he climbs the few remaining steps on a ladder attached to the roof and breaks the serene quiet of the sunny February morning with a clank as his shovel hits the tin roof.

The constant clearing of snow from the city's roofs is first and foremost done for "the safety of the people," but also to maintain the buildings, many of which are hundreds of years old.

"If there is too much snow on the roof it is too heavy for it so you have to take it off," the 36-year-old said.

A 10-year roofing veteran, he moves around fluidly and with confidence. Getting the job done quickly is key as more roofs are waiting, but safety remains a top priority.

"Every time you have to think about safety, it's the number one rule. You don't have room for a mistake here. If you make one mistake it could be your last," Plian said.

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