High Winds Shut Down Washington Monument Inspection

Sunday, Oct 2, 2011  |  Updated 12:47 PM EDT
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A wind gust tossed one of the engineers inspecting the Washington Monument 30 feet off the wall on Friday.  Erik Sohn said he kind of liked the experience.

A wind gust tossed one of the engineers inspecting the Washington Monument 30 feet off the wall on Friday. Erik Sohn said he kind of liked the experience.

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The team of daredevil climbers inspecting the sheer faces of the Washington Monument suspended operations on Sunday in the name of safety.

The National Park Service together with the Difficult Access Team from architectural firm WJE made the decision to stand down after consulting Sunday's forecast, which called for high winds on the National Mall.

"Safety is always our first concern," National Mall superintendent Bob Vogel said.

The team made some changes to their security procedures, after gusting winds tossed one of the climbers from the west face of the monument to the south face on Friday.  Erik Sohn, a member of the climbing team, was lifted 30-feet out from the monument.  He was uninjured in the incident.

Dan Lemieux, manager for the WJE architectural firm that is conducting the inspection, said "minor adjustments have been made and reviewed with the team."  The changes came out of interviews conducted with Sohn and other team members.

Lemieux said that events like the one that happened on Friday do not scare his team of climbers.

"It is the hours of training and actual experience in the field that typically allows our DAT team to react calmly and effectively to those events," he said, "and continue their descent safely and without injury."

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