Still The Coolest College Tradition Out There: The Naval Academy Class of 2018 Finished The Herndon Climb In 1 Hour, 38 Minutes

Skip to about 7:00 for the finish

Last year’s Herndon Climb

WJZ — It’s an annual rite of passage at the U.S. Naval Academy: the Herndon climb. Hundreds of plebes scramble to climb a greased up monument to replace a freshman’s hat with a midshipman’s hat. Marcus Washington has more on how long it took. The day is set at the U.S. Naval Academy for a 60-plus year tradition to continue–the Herndon Monument climb. “Our daughter Leann Marquez is finishing her plebe year, and I’m trying to see if she’s got the guts to get up in all that mess,” her father, Dan Marquez, said. And with a bang, they’re off. Standing at 21-feet tall and covered in 50 pounds of vegetable shortening, the plebes must knock down the dixie cup hat, replacing it with a midshipman hat. As the minutes tick by, they fall–and they fall again, and again–but they never give up. As we reach the 1 hour 30 minute mark, we see a change–plebes close to a victory. And at 1 hour 38 minutes and 36 seconds, they just do it. The shortest time was in 1975. Those plebes did it in 20 minutes. The longest time was in 1998. It took them 4 hours and 5 minutes. With the tradition, the plebes remove their shoes before starting the climb. Many of those shoes are being donated to various charities through the Midshipman Action Group.


Still the best. It’s beyond me how a grease-smothered tradition like this starts, but who cares. Look at the vigor with which they attack that monument. Relentless. Maybe I woulda made something of myself if I had that kind of enthusiasm about anything when I was 18. Nope. Sorry ma. Just a dead-end cube job and a couple blogs a week on a smut site for me. But I digress. Good on these folk for beating last year’s time, and even better on them for donating their shoes to charity. Great work.


PS: I suppose it’s against the spirit of the tradition, but what’s to stop them from just tossing the hat from the ground over and over til it finally sits on top? I dunno, I think I could get lucky once over the course of an hour. No climbing, no grease… sounds like a winning gameplan to me.