ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — It’s a right of passage for the U.S. Naval Academy class of 2022, the Herndon Monument climb and they are plebes no more.

First-year students at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis have completed their final hurdle of the year. After finishing The sea Trials last week, the Herndon climb was the final test for the class of 2022

Christian Schwein said he didn’t expect to be the one to cap the Herndon Monument, but his mom knew he was built for success.

“I told Christian all along and his friends, you’ve got to use him! He’s so tall and skinny and he doesn’t weigh a lot. This is what he’s made for!” said Sue Schwein.

She and hundreds of families watched as Monday afternoon, the Naval Academy Class of 2022 got to work on a right of passage — to climb the 21-foot tall Herndon Monument and remove the plebe hat or “dixie cup” from the top. The obelisk is covered in vegetable shortening, which makes the already challenging task, more difficult.

“I’m excited, I’m so excited to not be a plebe,” said Lydia DiPaolo, an English major.

The Herndon Climb is a combination of tradition — sweat, grit and 50 pounds of grease.

“We all gathered here at 6 a.m. to start putting the vegetable shortening on the thing. We had like ladders and climbing up and just work from the top down to the base,” said Kat Castaneda, a midshipman in her third year.

Plebes worked from the base up.

“We tried, we had a lot of strategies going into this but it’s hard to, as I said, implement them when everyone’s falling apart. We’re just trying to get out there on each other’s shoulders,” said Charles Crispi, a operations research major.

Trying to replace the Dixie Cup with a combination cover.

“It’s hot, it’s sweaty. You’re touching everybody, everybody around you. It’s kinda nasty but you get past that,” said Noah Martinolich, a mechanical engineering major.

“Falling is the scary part. When you’re down and everybody is on top of you, that’s what’s hard,” DiPaolo added.

This year the plebes knocked the dixie cup off the top of the monument and replaced it with the combination cover in 1 hour and 5 minutes. Last year it took the plebes two hours.

 

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