Every year since the 1940’s, members of the Naval Academy freshman class or “plebes” are subject to a unique tradition before being allowed to ascend ranks. They are required to climb a 21-foot tall monument covered in lard by means of a human pyramid.
This year, the challenge was broadcast on Facebook Live and yes, we spent hours drooling over these half-naked chiseled military members as they slipped and slid over one another covered in grease. I mean, what more could you possibly want?
Every year, members of the Naval Academy freshman class attempt to scale the 21-foot tall Herndon Monument in Annapolis by making a human pyramid.
Per tradition, the freshman class is required to remove one of their own plebe hats—known as the “dixie cup”—that the upperclassmen have placed on the top of the monument and replace it with an upperclassman’s hat, thereby signaling their transition from freshman to fourth-class midshipmen. They must conquer this feat by climbing on top of each other and scaling the obelisk that has been saturated in 200 pounds of lard.
This year’s Herndon Monument climb was broadcasted on Facebook Live and we got to enjoy hours of slippery chiseled Navy men and women sliding all over each other.
For the class of 2020, the challenge lasted a glorious 2 hours, 21 minutes, and 21 seconds. There was plenty of slipping and sliding, as well as one excruciatingly close but failed attempt.
Eventually, one plebe named Joe McGraw from a Rockford, IL was able to secure the hat.
The first monument climb took place in 1940, but it officially became a tradition in the 1950’s with the fastest time to date at 44 minutes. The longest time was four hours.
According to WILJA, “the men and women who cooperate in the climb say it’s all about teamwork and the tower of brotherhood and sisterhood that will last past the afternoon.”