Spring cleaning at the bell tower

Nathan Martens hangs from the top of the bell tower Friday doing a ‘spring cleaning’ on the windows

The annual cleaning of the glass on the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower was done Friday by Nathan Martens of Crystal Clean/Midwest Vertical of Ames.

Martens has been with the company for two years. He explained he was doing maintenance for a property management company in Ames when he realized it was a dead-end job. He saw an ad for a rope access technician and thought it sounded like a good change. He’s been with the company for two years.

“Knowing the ropes” is not a figure of speech in Martens’ work – it’s essential. He said the job requires extensive training in how to use the ropes. One rope can lift a Ford F150 pickup truck if it’s used right.

The job doesn’t take as much upper body strength as an observer would guess. According to  Martens, a 61-year-old female journalist could do the job if she knew how to use the ropes.

Cleaning the outside of the windows on the observation deck took about three hours, and he estimated another three for the inside.  The Mahanay tower is big to us, but for Martens and Midwest Vertical, it’s a small job. Already this season he and his fellow “rope guys” washed the windows on a 32-story high rise in Chicago.

Vertical access technicians are in demand he said, with glass being used more and more in new buildings.

See the process step-by-step:

The bell tower is open  today, May 20, from 10 am to 4 pm. Beginning next Saturday, the bell tower will be hope from 10 am to 4 pm daily, with occasional additional hours. Adults can ride the elevator to the top (and back down) for $3; children 18 and younger are free thanks to sponsorship by Hy-Vee.

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