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Wash. Monument climber calls job "awesome"

There are plenty of sights to take in when you go to Washington, D.C. But these days, a lot of tourists are looking up as engineers dangle from the outside of the Washington Monument to carry out a delicate inspection.

When a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the East Coast last month, the National Mall's iconic Washington Monument sustained some damage. Inspectors found a crack and closed the attraction indefinitely.

Washington Monument "hero" ranger recalls quake

Wednesday, the National Park Service dispatched a team of engineers to scale down the more than 500-foot tall tower to conduct a block-by-block search for any more cracks that may have gone undetected. Team members will descend in small seats harnessed from inside the point over the next four days.

Carol Johnson, spokesperson for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, says, "They're excited to be doing it and have lots and lots of experience on high structures and historic structures."

While in no apparent danger of collapsing, inspectors found several cracks in the last month, including three to four significant breaks near the top, substantial leaks, a debris field near the base and daylight is visible inside where mortar has loosened. Officials expect an in-depth assessment to be ready next month.

But what is this job like?

Emma Cardini, an engineer with the company Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates who is scaling the Washington Monument, tells "The Early Show," "It's awesome."

"It's not entirely scary," she says. "You have an appreciation for the height that you're at, but it's, for me, it's not so much the fear as just an awesome experience."

She says they view the work like any other job, but it is, "a little different."

"It is the Washington're surrounded by reporters, but other than that, it has the same qualifications that any of our jobs have," Cardini tells "Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge.

Since she's been on the job, Cardini says they've already located some opened mortar joints and a few cracks on the top of the iconic monument.

But just like other workers, Cardini sometimes receives personal text messages on the job. Her realtor, she says, sent her a text message while she was hanging from the structure.

"I returned it," Cardini says. "It was on actually on Tuesday and it was from my realtor. She told me we got an offer on our condo, and I told her that I couldn't give her a call to respond to it, so she would have to suffice with a text back. "

Cardini says she and her team is currently slated to work at the monument through the week, but adds they do whatever the job requires.

Cardini tells "The Early Show" she's part of a team of eight who are all certified to perform this safely in her company.

She says, "We do this frequently as a group, and everyone is quite talented and great to work with."