Many in the climbing community were amused a few weeks ago when our POTUS held a press conference on a section of his latest curb wall design – a series of parallel square steel posts with a 5 foot high plate at the top. “This wall cannot be climbed,” he said. Newsweek reported that the president bragged about how “the feds tested the structure by having 20 skilled mountain climbers attempt to scale it,” and no one could.
No one in our climbing community knows any of these 20 climbers. I doubt they exist. More importantly, declaring something impossible for a bona fide climber to climb is challenging them.
So I decided to build an exact replica and hold a contest. Although I am 75 years old, I am still an active climber and hold American Mountain Guide Association certification as a single pitch instructor. It helped that I was also a retired engineer.
We will be hosting the event on land that my wife and I own in the Red River Gorge area of Eastern Kentucky adjacent to the Muir Valley. (We are the founders of Muir Valley, one of North America’s premier rock climbing reserves.) The dates are October 11-12, which coincides with one of the largest gatherings of climbers in the United States. United, an annual event called Rocktoberfest.
[Also Read Marty Vogel, 59, Red River Gorge Fixture, Killed in Climbing Accident]
The configuration and design is dimensionally identical to the 18 foot version of the bollard wall (vertical square steel columns) currently erected along our southern border. With the volunteer help of some climbing friends, I built and erected the section of wall over a four-day period.
To keep the competition as safe as possible, we will belay climbers from a master point higher on the structure in a manner similar to wall climbing speed competitions. Belaying will not hinder or help climbers in any way; it’s just there for safety.
There will be multiple categories, the details of which are still being worked out, as there is no history to draw on. Prizes and trophies will be awarded. There will be no entry fee and each participant will have two attempts in the chosen category, the best time of the two being the participant’s official time.
Correction: An older version of this article incorrectly attributed the quote from the Newsweek article in the first paragraph directly to President Trump.