After President Donald Trump claimed skilled rock climbers could not scale a portion of his border wall for the U.S.-Mexico border, a Kentucky climber has taken that as a challenge.
Rick Weber, a retired engineer in Wolfe County, built a wood replica of an 18-foot high portion of the border wall that includes 6X6 columns and a 60-inch high plate atop. He is now planning a competition to see if members of the rock climbing community can scale his replica wall.
When visiting a portion of the border wall construction in California last month, Trump boasted that “this wall can’t be climbed.”
“We had 20 mountain climbers. That’s all they do — they love to climb mountains,” Trump said in September. “They can have it. Me, I don’t want to climb mountains. But they’re very good, and some of them were champions. And we gave them different prototypes of walls, and this was the one that was hardest to climb.”
Weber wrote on RockAndIce.com that no one in his climbing community knows any of these mountaineers and questions their existence.
“More importantly, to declare something to be impossible to climb to a bonafide rock climber is to issue a challenge,” Weber wrote.
Since hearing Trump’s claim about the wall, Weber erected his own border wall that consists of four columns spaced 12 inches apart. It’s the same height as portions of the wall already in place at the border. Weber owns Muir Valley, which is a rock climbing park in the Red River Gorge.
Several high-ranking mountaineers disputed to The Daily Beast Trump’s claims that climbers have tested portions of his wall.
“We live in strange times,” Marc Norman, CEO of USA Climbing, the sport’s national governing body, told The Daily Beast. “I am not aware of any of our athletes being contracted to do such work. Ironically, I have heard rumors of climbers being contracted by zoos to test animal enclosures, but that is about all.”
Other climbers said it was “preposterous” or that it would be hard to find professional climbers willing to help Trump.
But these climbers will get a chance to climb Weber’s wall in a competition to take place Friday and Saturday near the Muir Valley parking lot in Wolfe County. Trophies for the free contest will be awarded to the fastest times as well as the cleverest technique and best costume, Weber wrote.
The event coincides with Rocktoberfest, a popular event held at Red River Gorge for professional climbers.
As it turns out, Weber’s wall is not unscalable. Weber wrote on Facebook Sunday that one man needed just 37 seconds to scale it by using just a belay rope.
Weber’s competition follows recent news regarding the border wall, in which Trump privately mentioned fortifying a moat around the wall stocked with alligators or snakes, the New York Times reported.