05 June 2011

"Plebes no more"

The Herndon Climb is a long-standing tradition of the US Naval Academy. Before a freshmen class (called plebes) advances to the next class, they undertake the challenge of climbing the Herndon Monument, to replace a plebe's hat (called a dixie cup) with a midshipman's hat. From USNA FAQ
The Herndon Monument climb is a tradition for former plebes, and is also known as the "Plebe Recognition Ceremony." After the graduation ceremony where the plebes are promoted to Third Class rank, the 21 foot Herndon monument is coated in lard and one of the white plebe "dixie cup" hats is placed at the top. The former plebes must work together to climb this monument and replace the "dixie cup" hat with an upperclassmen's hat. Tradition states that the plebe who reaches the top will rise to the rank of admiral first. As any observer can recognize, climbing to the top of Herndon takes a lot of teamwork and perseverance. Ascending Herndon serves as a review for young midshipmen, reminding them of the values of teamwork, courage and discipline that are instilled throughout the year. The fastest time ever recorded for a midshipmen class to accomplish this goal was 1 minute and 30 seconds in 1969. The slowest time was 4 hours, 5 minutes, and 17 seconds in 1995.
Last year's climb was not greased, as a safety precaution. A new superintendent this year, allowed the grease to return.

See report by ABC2 Baltimore

See also reporting in The Capital (Annapolis).

(photo from Kill Your Time)

(photo by Getty via RTE)

Excellent amateur footage via YouTube showing that the t-shirts are used to wipe off the lard

Despite many years of tradition, each new class still seems to use the same strategy.

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