Washington Monument rappelling to continue as weather lets up

An engineer examines the pyramid of the Washington Monument for damage. (Photo: NPS)

With calmer winds and new safety measures in place, the repelling engineers are back to scaling the Washington Monument, checking by hand the structure’s 36,491 stones for earthquake damage.

“We start out with a visual assessment to see just what the conditions are,” said engineer Dan Gach. “We're looking for cracks, we're looking for displacements, signs of distress. And then we are documenting that with digital photographs on the iPads.”

The hammers the climbers use are soft and designed to test the stones. They're also collecting loose pieces.

The work's been stopped since Friday, when one of the engineers was blown about 30 feet off the monument by a wind gust. Today, adjustments were made to the ropes to limit the amount of horizontal movement that can occur.

While his wife Carmalita is happy watching from the ground, Curtis Nelson is still trying to get to the top. Thirty-three years ago, when he was visiting D.C. as a kid, the Monument was closed too.

“We're here again looking at it from the outside,” he said.