While visiting a $147-million border fence replacement project in Otay Mesa, California, on Wednesday, President Trump boasted that his beloved wall “can’t be climbed” and claimed that it was recently tested by 20 “world-class mountain climbers,” but climbers say that’s unlikely
“We have, I guess you could say, world-class mountain climbers. We got climbers,” Trump said as he stood beside a newly finished replacement section of the 30-foot barrier. “We had 20 mountain climbers. That’s all they do—they love to climb mountains. 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.”
Trump boasted that the climber test is proof that the barrier is “virtually impenetrable.”
But the country’s top professional climbers told the Daily Beast they have no idea what Trump is talking about.
Not only do they doubt that any professionals, let alone twenty of the top mountain climbers in the game, would assist the Trump administration in a task like this, they also say the wall would not be terribly difficult to scale.
The Daily Beast spoke to the nation’s top-ranked climbing athletes, past climbing and bouldering champions, and sports associations, to seek “clues to the identity of any climber who might have participated in such a test. Not a single person in the tight-knit community of world-class climbers had heard a single word about any border wall experiment.”
“I have never heard of any climbers ever being recruited to try and climb a border wall,” said Jesse Grupper, who won the gold medal in the men’s sport lead category of this year’s USA Climbing Sport & Speed Open National Championships.
“I absolutely have not heard of anyone testing sections of border wall,” said Kyra Condie, who currently ranks second among the nation’s women boulderers. “It would even be hard to find any of us willing to do anything to help Trump and his efforts in any way.”
“Definitely no well-recognized U.S. climbers have taken part in something like that,” said Ross Fulkerson, a seven-time member of the U.S. national team who is currently ranked third in the U.S. “I haven’t heard of any climbers ever helping out with testing.”
“We live in strange times,” said Marc Norman, CEO of USA Climbing, the sport’s national governing body. “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.”
“Spokespeople and executives at the country’s oldest and largest climbing and mountaineering groups, including the American Alpine Club, Mazamas, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Alpine Institute, were similarly at a loss,” reports the Daily Beast.
“Walls continue to activate the basic human sense for adventure and freedom to explore,” said Phil Powers, CEO of the American Alpine Club. “I am not aware of any climbers who have been hired to test walls. I would think if any of our very best had done so, we would know.”