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Climbers Rappel Washington Monument To Assess Damage

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Workers rappelled down the outside of the Washington Monument on Tuesday in order to assess the damage from the 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August.
NBC Washington
Workers rappelled down the outside of the Washington Monument on Tuesday in order to assess the damage from the 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August.

The National Park Service prepared for an ambitious stunt at the Washington Monument Tuesday morning, but it's a stunt with a purpose. Weather permitting, a team of specialists with the National Park Service are going where no man has gone before.

"Climbers will rappel all four faces of the Washington Monument to perform a close range survey of the exterior surfaces," explains Parks Superintendent Bob Vogel.

Until this point, they've only had workers on scaffolds outside of the monument, buton Tuesday they'll be dangling from ropes 555 feet in the air. The climbers will communicate by radio with colleagues on the ground who will be documenting what the climbers observe. 

Vogel says the climbers will begin by crawling out of a trap door at the very top of the monument, then rappelling slowly down the sides in search of cracks and openings caused by earthquake and heavy rains from Hurricane Irene in August. 

The first phase is expect to take about five days to complete. The second phase includes an emergency weatherization of the exterior cracks in the monument to protect it from rain and snow.

The monument remains closed to the public during the assessment.

On Monday, the NPS released footage from inside the Washington Monument during the August earthquake.

View more videos at: http://nbcwashington.com.

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