In a display of unwavering determination and collective teamwork, a group of U.S. Naval Academy freshmen assembled Wednesday in Annapolis, Maryland, to partake in the revered tradition of the Herndon Climb. Dating back to 1950, this time-honored ritual involves scaling the towering 21-foot-tall monument. Beyond being a test of physical prowess, the Herndon Climb serves as a powerful testament to the enduring spirit of collaboration and unity that defines the Naval Academy’s cadets year after year.
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Each year freshmen, or plebes, work together with one objective: climbing the monument covered in lard to remove the “dixie cup” hat at the top. The time-honored tradition not only serves as a physical milestone but also marks the end of the classes’ first year at the academy.
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This year it took Midshipman Fourth Class Chris Paris 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 51 seconds to get to the top. Though he didn’t get there alone, and he never would be able to. The climbing of the slippery 21-foot-tall monument takes the whole class.
Plebes no more!#USNAClassof2026 finished their #HerndonClimb in 2 hours, 31 minutes and 51 seconds!
MIDN 4/C Chris Paris of 28th Company from Louisville, Kentucky capped the monument.#GoNavy pic.twitter.com/XIfTdDvNyY
— U.S. Naval Academy (@NavalAcademy) May 17, 2023
As the class completed the milestone they were cheered on by alumni, family, and even some civilian onlookers who surrounded the event to watch the class take on the monument covered in over 50 pounds of slippery lard.
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This years time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 51 seconds comes in better than last years. As last years class was only able to take the cap after 3 hours and 37 minutes of struggling. With this time-honored tradition out of the way, the freshmen have earned their new fourth-class midshipmen titles with all their hard work!
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