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Plebes celebrate around the base of the lard-covered Herndon Monument on the United States Naval Academy campus in Annapolis, Md., Tuesday, May 22, 2012, after they replaced a "dixie cup" hat with an upperclassman's hat at the 21-foot peak. The annual event is a rite of passage that culminates the Midshipmen's first year on campus. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Watch these Naval Academy students climb a greasy obelisk and come down as midshipmen


As part of a unique, time-honored tradition first-year Naval Academy students, known as "plebes" worked to scale a greasy 21-foot obelisk Monday. 

The Herndon Monument Climb is meant to demonstrate the teamwork and perseverance the plebes have learned during their first year at the academy, according to the U.S. Naval Academy's website.

"The plebes build a human pyramid to remove the 'dixie cup' hat at the top of the vegetable shortening-covered monument and replace it with an upperclassman’s hat," the academy's website explains. "After successfully completing the Herndon climb, the freshmen are no longer called plebes but 'fourth class midshipmen.'"

The academy's upperclassmen are responsible for covering the monument in 200 pounds of lard. In 2014, the academy ditched the lard due to safety concerns and the class finished the climb in under three minutes. 

So naturally, the lard was re-introduced the following year. 

It usually takes between one and three hours to complete the task. 

The first recorded Herndon Monument Climb was in 1962 and it took 12 minutes. The fastest recorded time was the class of 1972, which completed it in 1 minute and 30 seconds without any grease.

The longest recorded time goes to the class of 1998 which completed the task in 4 hours, 5 minutes and 17 seconds. 

WJLA contributed to this report. 

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