Watch CBS News

Plebes No More: USNA Midshipmen Complete Herndon Monument Climb

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Grab the lard. Monday marks the annual tradition known as the Herndon Monument Climb at the Naval Academy.

Rochelle Ritchie has more on the time-honored but slippery tradition.

It took the freshman class two hours and 19 minutes to make that slippery climb. It wasn't easy, but it was exciting to watch.

It's a race to the top as the Naval Academy's class of 2017 attempted to rid themselves of the title "plebe" to fourth class midshipman. It's a tradition dating back 50 years.

"It certainly was exhausting doing it for two and a half hours so hopefully they can do it faster than that," said Pierce Chilton.

The mission: build a human pyramid tall enough to remove the dixie cup on top and replace it with a combination cover. Sounds easy,  but the Herndon Monument is covered in lard, making it nearly impossible.

Before this climb, one of the freshmen said that an email went out on a strategy that would be used to get to the top--but it doesn't look like everyone got that message.

"Like every plan, once you get past the first step, it starts to fall apart," said James Donofrio.

As the freshman class started to slip and slide its way up the statue, nervous family members watched from the audience.

"He said they'd decided he was going to be on the bottom," said Natalie Samario. "He's tall, he's big, he can hold his own but it's scary to watch."

After two hours, there's success as the dixie cup is finally removed. Nineteen minutes later, Michael Landry ended the climb with the cover finally on top.

"It's all my classmates' work. They helped me get up there and without them, it wouldn't have happened," said Landry.

In 1998, it took that class four hours and five minutes.

Other Local News:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.