ANNAPOLIS, Md. — It's what the first year Midshipmen at the Naval Academy look forward to every year, the Herndon Monument Climb.
The plebes, as they are known at the academy, must climb the Herndon Monument and place an upperclassman's hat on top of the monument.
But the 21-foot monument is loaded with lard, and they can't use any tools, just the shirt and gym shorts they have on their backs and the water to cool them off, though that can be annoying at times as well. When Herndon is greased with the lard it has taken sometimes as long as two, three or four hours.
On Monday, the class devised a strategy.
"A strategy was attempted, but it's really hard to coordinate a thousand people to work together, especially like the day of, it kind of becomes a free for all," said a Naval Academy plebe.
That free for all had its ups and downs, literally, until someone was able to remove the plebe hat, or dixie cup as they call it, and replace it with a upperclassmen's cover.
The plebes were hoping for a better day out there, but the weather was in the mid 80's and sunny. It's a good way to finish up what many of them call the toughest year of their lives.
"This has definitely been the most challenging year of my life through academics, physically, mentally with everything we do here there's been so many challenges," said a Naval Academy plebe.
The plebes finished their task with a real respectable time of an hour and five minutes and five seconds.
The legend is who ever places the cover on the monument will become the first one in the class to become an admiral. They've been doing this climb since 1959.
The official time of one hour and five minutes and five seconds is the fastest time in more than 30 years. The class of 1991 did it in less than hour.