Watch: US Naval Academy freshmen attempt to climb 21ft-tall greased monument to mark end of first year

Watch as members of the US Naval Academy’s first year class attempt to scale a 21ft-tall greased obelisk in Annapolis, Maryland, in an annual test of ingenuity, perseverance, and ability to work together.

The Herndon Monument, a granite structure, has been coated with a this layer of vegetable shortening, in a move designed to make the task harder.

The annual tradition began in 1950, and sees “plebes” - academy freshmen - build a human pyramid to swap out a hat placed on top of the structure.

It is considered a rite of passage for the new recruits.

The monument is named after Commander William Lewis Herndon, who died during the sinking of his ship in a hurricane in 1857.

Click here to sign up for our newsletters.